How emotional neglect is ruining good relationships
Written by: Seada
Emotional neglect is the opposite of emotional abuse. I would like you to pull out a family photo and examine everyone in the picture. You will recognize the smiles, silly faces, hugs, and perhaps clothing and other apparent articles. Now, take a moment to examine all the white space in the family picture. The background seems invisible and unmemorable. Emotional neglect is very much the invisible background; it is often under-diagnosed and overlooked due to its silent nature.
A few signs of emotional neglect are:
- The emotional support in your relationship is one-sided (one person does most of the work, while the other makes little effort).
- Life demands take priority, making you feel unworthy of the same attention given to other things.
- You feel as though you’re walking on eggshells whenever the topic of discussion is about the relationship.
- Arguments have intensified, typically over irrelevant matters. The real concerns are suppressed as you begin to scapegoat your frustration onto your partner.
- Loneliness is experienced inside of a relationship. Loneliness is one of the greatest warning signs of an emotionally neglectful couple.
- Topics of conversation seems to be dull to one partner, and if conversation does become of interest, the conversation gravitates back to the uninterested partner.
- It’s a challenge to initiate spending quality time. Quality time may be reduced to practicing individual interests while being present in the same room.
There are no quick fixes to repair emotional neglect, but there are ways to improve the quality of your relationship:
- Priorities. Who or what comes first in your life is often a question left unexamined. Life demands will always be present, but at some point they may begin to hurt your relationship.
- Boundaries. Are you saying “yes” too often to people who have nothing to do with your personal life? If so, how has being an accommodator damaged the romance in your relationship?
- Communication. One of the greatest issues in relationships is a lack of skills to have a meaningful conversation. We play the blame-game too often; it becomes the source of our pain. What if we complained without blaming our partner? Complaining without blame tells your partner you are hurt and you’re looking for a resolution (ask for what you need within appropriate limits).
- Effort. Making an effort is difficult right? If you’ve answered yes to this question, you should note you may not be as motivated as you wish you were. Honesty is the best way to revisit your commitment and love towards your partner. Complaining without accepting some amount of self-responsibility is an act of selfishness.
The above mentioned strategies are generic modifications you can make to produce some insight about emotional neglect in your relationship(s), but it is not an exhaustive list of ideas. It is wise to consider taking time away from distractions to journal your heartfelt concerns in order to examine the needs in your relationship. What do you do with the information that you’ve identified? If you’re stuck or uncertain about this question, I would advise you to consider researching (individually and as a couple) strategies to improve the quality of your relationship.
Remember, nothing we envision comes easily; however, a clear plan of action, accompanied by effort, will provide the desired outcome. Consistency is key to success.