Ignored by your partner? Here’s 5 steps to consider
Do you feel ignored by your partner? Does it seem like your mate emotionally and/or physically neglects you? Has this experience made you question the strength of your relationship?
If the answer is yes, you wouldn’t be alone. A common reason couples seek out therapy is because of this very issue.
When you feel ignored, particularly if it has been going on for a while, it has a way of discoloring the entire relationship. As time goes on, this can lead to:
- Problems with self-esteem
- Questions about fidelity
- Irrational thinking
- A sexless relationship
- Relational collapse
Does any of this sound familiar? If so, can anything really be done to create positive change?
The answer is maybe. Because each couple is different, there’s no way of guaranteeing anything. That said, there are five things you can do that may be helpful.
Before continuing, it’s important to not make assumptions about why the neglect is happening. Instead, I want you to focus on the what.
What can be changed?
As you review the material below, I encourage you to do so with an open heart. Visualize leaving the hurt you feel at the doorstep – if just momentarily.
In this way, you can approach the situation with a fresh perspective.
Check it out.
1. What are the behaviors?
Before anything can happen, it’s critical to assess exactly what is happening. Does your mate avoid real dialogue? Does the person minimally touch you? Is it a combination of both?
The reason you want to identify your feelings is for one simple reason – to have a clear picture of what is going on.
Whatever the case, jot them all down. Doing so will help with what comes next.
2. What is causing your feelings?
If change is to take place, you’ll need to link the material you have recorded above with your emotions. In other words, how does the behavior of your mate influence your feelings?
For example, does the lack of touch make you feel unattractive? Does the lack of interest in your life make you feel unwanted? Are you giving affection and finding it goes unreciprocated?
The more concrete you can be with your feelings, the better.
3. Assess your own stuff
This step is important and shouldn’t be blown off. If the possibility of change is to happen, you must look at other life factors that may be impacting the intensity of your feelings.
Examples include a recent loss, depression, anxiety, or changes in medication.
I’m suggesting this step as a precursor to any conversation with your mate so that you can talk about what’s going on from a rational place.
This is not to say what you are feeling isn’t real. Instead, the suggestion is being offered as a way of offering rational thinking to a dynamic that can often seem irrational.
4. Talk with your mate
This one is hard. That said, now that you have completed the steps above, you’ll be in a stronger place.
You’ll also be able to:
- Talk without getting defensive
- Explore without blaming
- Avoid attention-getting behaviors
- Make demands that aren’t realistic
- Inquire as opposed to accusing
- Listen with an open heart
It is entirely possible your partner may be unaware of how their lack of affection or attention (or both) may be impacting you.
It’s also possible you don’t know what may be happening with your partner.
For example, are they under stress you didn’t know about? Is your partner deeply depressed but too embarrassed to admit? Are they struggling with body image issues, causing them to feel “ugly”?
Finally, under this point, your mate may share things you have been doing (or not doing) that feed into the problem. Be open to listening.
By jointly owning the issue, the chances of creating positive change are much stronger.
Doing so also ends the pattern of silence and opens a pathway for dialogue.
5. Create a plan for change
After having the discussion (which may need revisiting), it’s time to put words into action. I am the first to admit this is easier said than done.
However, if the both of you want to transform the current dynamic, it’s important that both of you mindfully engage in activities designed to grow your connection.
- Set aside time each week for “check-ins” to explore what’s happening.
- If need be, plan sexy time. Even if it doesn’t feel organic, it re-establishes a physical connection.
- Planning dates outside of the home and away from mobile phones, tablets and children.
- Create goals together and revisit progress regularly
You can customize the points under this step to meet both of your needs. The key thing to realize is that purposeful dialogue, empowered by love, is essential to healing the rift.
It may be that none of the steps described above will work for your situation. This point is particularly true if cheating has been going on.
But if you are tired of feeling ignored, you owe it to yourself to at least try.
If you need a resource to help you with some of what’s been described above, I encourage you to pick up a copy of The Five Languages of Love by Chapman (See Amazon).
Lastly, it’s possible that you’ll need to draw upon the expertise of a couple’s therapist to get to the heart of the matter.
And that’s OK.
You’ll at least have a starting point in which to begin counseling.
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