Humiliation, insults, accusations, and domestic violence are the most common forms of abuse in relationships. But there is another form of violence which is distinguished by its "invisibility". This type of abuse is called emotional neglect. What is emotional neglect in a romantic relationship? In fact, this is disregard of the emotional needs of a partner and depreciation of the feelings and experiences of a loved one especially in the event of some life problems and difficulties. Let's take a closer look at emotional neglect and find out how to deal with neglect in a relationship.
When does neglect in a relationship appear?
Why do people look for a loved one and create couples? Obviously, they do it for the sake of positive emotions and mutual support. After all, there is a special spiritual connection that is formed between lovers even if you meet a single woman online. But it happens that, after many years of living together, partners not only lose interest in each other but also refuse to help and support their loved one in every possible way. Why does this happen? There are several possible triggers for emotional neglect.
Emotional burnout. This is one of the most common prerequisites for the appearance of neglect in a couple. It is a kind of body response to overpressure. In such cases, a person often shields oneself from other people's problems – this way, the body tries to preserve the remnants of energy.
Low empathy. Empathy is the ability to empathize with others that triggers the mechanism of caring for beloved people. Accordingly, low empathy can be a key reason why the feelings and needs of a loved one are perceived as unimportant.
Substance abuse. The systematic use of alcohol or drugs reduces the ability for normal social interaction.
Signs of emotional neglect in marriage or dating
Emotional neglect is rarely discussed even among professional psychologists. Most people do not even know about such a problem, because unlike psychological, physical, or sexual abuse, emotional neglect is difficult to identify. But still, there are some clear signs of emotional neglect in a relationship.
1. A partner's unwillingness to spend time together
Emotional neglect implies a constant lack of time to communicate with a loved one. Thus, your partner finds all sorts of excuses just to avoid meeting and dating you. As a rule, a neglector refers to desperate busyness – work, friends, family, or something else. Your phone calls are quick and the answers of your partner are laconic. In addition, the neglector is not interested in your affairs and life at all and does not want physical intimacy. You may have even noticed some signs of cheating in relationships.
2. You feel like you're in a one-sided relationship
It seems to you that you are the one who always speaks in your couple. You no longer feel that a loved one has at least a drop of interest or trivial respect for what you are saying. Your significant other seems to ignore all your words or even postpones the conversation "for later" in the obvious hope that this "later" will never come.
3. You can introduce specific emotional neglect examples
Perhaps you remember how your partner refused you support even though you really needed it? Or maybe you have heard the phrases: “don’t make things up, it doesn’t hurt”, “don’t pretend, you don’t feel so bad”, “you don’t need it at all”, or “you don’t really want it”? All this is a clear sign of emotional neglect in a relationship.
4. Your partner shrinks away from any responsibility
In a healthy relationship, partners always try to help each other in all sorts of things to prevent the physical or emotional burnout of a loved one. But since neglectors do not care about the feelings of their partners, they often shirk their duties on a loved one and avoid any responsibility. For example, this often happens in families after the birth of a child, when all responsibilities for domestic work and raising children fall on the shoulders of a wife and a husband refuses to help and support the beloved woman. This is one of the most obvious signs of emotional neglect in marriage.
5. You feel lonely
If you feel lonely even though you are already in a relationship, this may be one of the symptoms of emotional neglect on the part of your partner. After all, everyone needs emotional release from time to time, and couples in love always want to feel love, care, support, and understanding of a significant other – this is what makes them feel needed for each other. But in the case of emotional neglect, you do not receive the desired care and support from your partner, consequently, you feel lonely.
Negative effects of emotional neglect
As a rule, "quiet" violence in a relationship is the first step towards more aggressive forms of abuse. The victims of neglectors, who are constantly told that their needs are not important, their dreams are laughable, and their efforts are insufficient, gradually lose faith in themselves and start taking neglect as a natural homage. This, in turn, leads to a number of serious consequences:
deterioration in health due to the chronic pressure and stress and inability to receive medical care;
the habit of “not noticing” one's own problems defined by the neglector as “unimportant” and “not worthy of attention”;
social isolation, inability to realize one's own personal, creative, and professional potential due to insufficient material and emotional resources;
financial and emotional dependence on the neglector which develops according to the principle of the Stockholm syndrome;
launching a "chain of violence" against weaker people, when neglect is perceived as a norm of communication and is "transmitted", for example, from parents to children;
psychological disorders and suicide as an extreme form of self-aggression that develops as a result of a long term occupancy in a traumatic situation.
How to fight with neglect in a relationship
The victims of neglect often mistakenly think that they cannot change anything and that their relationship is doomed to fail. However, this is far from the case. It is possible to overcome emotional neglect in a relationship and these tips will help you to do it!
Sort things out
You have already taken an important step in dealing with neglect in a relationship: you noticed a problem. Now, it is worth analyzing it. But be prepared for the fact that it will be more difficult to identify the reasons for such behavior than if your partner was engaging in emotional abuse. In the second case, the patterns are usually obvious, as well as the reasons for such repulsive behavior. But things are more complicated when dealing with emotional neglect, so arm yourself with patience and think about what could cause such behavior of your loved one.
Talk to your partner
In a healthy relationship, partners know how to solve problems together, discussing everything with each other. After all, sincerity and honesty are the foundations of a happy romantic relationship. Therefore, you should talk to your loved one about neglect in your relationship. That being said, be honest and tell about how you feel when the partner depreciates your feelings and needs. After that, try to find a solution to the problem together with your loved one.
Learn to feel better about yourself
A self-respecting person will never allow emotional neglect in a relationship and submit to the influence of other people to the detriment of one’s own opinion and interests. So, one of the ways to fight with neglect in a relationship is to raise self-esteem and work on the feeling of self-worth. You can find a lot of useful information on how to do this on the Internet or seek help from a qualified specialist. This will bring you many benefits not only in romantic relationships but also in building social bonds in general!
Find a common hobby
Common interests and hobbies bring people in love much closer and give them an opportunity to spend more time together. Moreover, it is a good way to learn more about each other as you will communicate and have fun while doing something that you both really enjoy. Accordingly, a common hobby strengthens romantic relationships and helps people in love to understand their beloved better.
Seek help from the dearest people
Social bondings allow you to get an objective assessment of the situation and, if necessary, receive help and support. You should remember that asking for and accepting help is not shameful but absolutely normal – just like “washing your dirty laundry in public”, trying to figure out what is happening in a love relationship with your partner. Supportive family and friends always have your best interests at heart and can act as a “bridge” to disengaging from the abusive relationship. Uniting with those who love you, you can become a tower of strength for each other, which means that you will be able to overcome even the most serious life difficulties together.
Couples in love face many difficulties in their romantic relations, but emotional neglect is one of the problems that can destroy love and put an end to even the strongest relationships. In fact, this is a passive abuse that is very difficult to distinguish. In addition, it can lead to a number of negative consequences not only for the victims but also for neglectors themselves. But still, it is possible to fight with neglect in a couple. Therefore, if you find yourself in a relationship with a neglector, be sure to use the above-mentioned tips and everything is going to be alright! We wish you empyrean love and happiness!