In a perfect world, your partner would listen to everything you have to say, respect and understand you, cherish your ideas and opinions, and feel pretty compensated for the time they devote to supporting your life. But that’s not always what happens in a marriage. You may find yourself in an unbalanced relationship where one person gives more than the other or feels unappreciated for their efforts.
Dealing with an emotionally unavailable spouse or partner can be incredibly challenging. Over time, being on the receiving end of your partner’s cold shoulder or rejecting behaviors can chip away at your self-esteem and mental health. The situation can feel hopeless, but that doesn’t mean you must constantly beg for attention from a spouse who seems uninterested in connecting with you. In this article, I’ll discuss why you might feel this way and deal with the situation.
Why Might You Feel That Your Partner Is Not Paying Attention?
It’s tough not getting the attention you long for. But did you know that there are reasons why a partner might not want to give in to your needs for attention? Let’s look at them and a few signs to identify them.
Taking for granted
“Taking for granted” is a broad term. It can mean that your partner fails to acknowledge the acts of kindness and love you perform daily, or it can mean that they’ve become so accustomed to feeling lucky to have you that they no longer feel the need to “try” in the relationship. Either way, it can be painful.
It can be challenging to define, but when it happens, you know. You may feel that your efforts in the relationship don’t matter or that the other person does not appreciate them. You might hear yourself saying things like:
- “He doesn’t even notice when I get home each day.”
- “She takes me for granted. Nothing I do matters.”
- “I don’t know why I care for her because she doesn’t appreciate it.”
- “I just feel so unappreciated in this relationship.”
Here are a few signs that your partner may be taking you for granted or not respecting you as much as they should.
- They don’t want to meet your family or friends.
- They don’t consider your opinions.
- They don’t listen when you talk with them.
- They don’t care about your hobbies.
- They frequently lie to you about anything, big or small.
- They’re always looking for a way out of plans with you.
- You have to beg to hang out with them.
- Your partner is not mindful of how often they cancel plans with you.
- Your partner only texts or calls you at the last minute.
- They think it’s normal and okay to cancel plans at the last minute — often without an apology.
- You feel like they’re only interested in sex.
- They don’t communicate with you regularly.
- They never ask about your day or what’s going on in your life
- The relationship is lopsided.
- They take advantage of your time and resources without considering how they affect you.
- You feel like they are no longer interested in learning about what is important to you.
Every relationship has its ups and downs, but if you notice the signs mentioned above, your partner might take you for granted.
Having different expectations
In every relationship, you learn more about your partner. Some things are deal-breakers, and some aren’t. Sometimes, you may need to talk with your partner about their expectations. You might be surprised to learn that your partner has different expectations in the relationship.
Nothing is more complicated than thinking you are on the same page, only to discover that your partner is not on the same page as you. This can happen at any stage of a relationship or marriage. It can happen with new couples when they move in together and realize it was a mistake. It can also occur with couples who have been married for years. It’s essential to communicate your expectations to avoid getting hurt.
Below are ten examples of common deal-breakers partners may have in a relationship:
- They want kids, and you don’t.
- They want an open relationship, and you don’t.
- You want to live together, but they don’t.
- Your religion or lack of religion is an issue for them.
- Their family doesn’t accept you based on your race or religion.
- They have children from a previous relationship, and you feel like you are always second place to their kids.
- The person has a lot of debt that makes you uncomfortable because it affects your life together.
- One person wants space in the relationship, while the other wants a lot of closeness and intimacy.
- Your partner’s career goals do not fit yours or vice versa (one person wants to travel worldwide, while the other wants to stay home).
You’re two different people with two different sets of expectations, and you’re expecting the other person to change.
How Does Lack of Attention Affect Mental Health and Relationships?
It can be exhausting and upsetting when you feel you need to beg your partner for attention. If this happens often enough and becomes pervasive in your relationship, it can lead to anger and resentment towards your partner. Eventually, you may reach the point where you’re tired of begging for attention from your partner, which can affect your mental health and relationship with your partner.
Impact on mental health
If you feel like your emotional or physical needs aren’t being met, it can lead to feelings of rejection and neglect. These feelings are often accompanied by anger, depression, and jealousy. In addition to emotional damage, negligence in a relationship can also lead to physical issues such as weight loss or gain, sleep problems, and stomach problems like ulcers and acid reflux due to stress.
If the relationship continues, what will likely happen is that you’ll grow resentful of your partner for neglecting their emotional responsibilities, or worse: You’ll begin to feel responsible for them.
Impact on relationship
It is easy for people to overlook the subtler forms of control in relationships, and being ignored can be a frustrating experience. It makes you feel as though you don’t exist. The more you chase and are eventually rejected, the more you will feel hurt. The more hurt you feel, the less likely you will be to try again or put yourself in the position of being rejected.
What to Do if You Feel You’re Begging for Attention?
It’s normal to be needy sometimes, but if you constantly feel like you need your partner’s attention and reassurance, it can be problematic for your relationship. If your partner has a history of withholding love and affection, it’s time to change your relationship.
- Practice self-care.
It would help if you took responsibility for your happiness so that you’re not always looking toward your partner to make you feel better. When you care for yourself, your confidence will increase, which will help you focus more on the positive things in life instead of feeling sorry for yourself.
- Communicate with your partner.
It will help if you communicate openly and honestly without fear of being judged or attacked by one another. Suppose you feel like something is bothering either of you. In that case, both parties must listen carefully and calmly instead of ignoring the situation and letting resentment build over time.
- Give each other space.
A healthy relationship doesn’t mean that both partners live in each other’s pockets 24/7 – couples must spend time apart. It could be going out with friends on weekends or having lunch during work hours.
- Focus on what you can control.
It may seem obvious, but sometimes we get so caught up in our partners’ behavior that we forget to focus on our actions and reactions. This can be frustrating — especially when you feel like your partner might be intentionally ignoring you — but focusing on what you can control and setting boundaries will be more helpful than pressuring them to change their behavior.
- Avoid begging for attention.
People seek attention for many different reasons. Some of us are insecure and must be reassured that we’re loved, liked, or respected. Some of us want special treatment because it’s nice to feel important. Others are just bored and want a little entertainment.
Whatever the reason, there are healthy and unhealthy ways to get your desired attention. Begging for your partner’s attention may be an unhealthy method for gaining attention that can do more harm than good in a relationship.
Begging for your partner’s attention portrays the message that you’re not worthy of their time or energy and affect your self-worth. It demonstrates that you don’t believe they’ll give you what you need without asking them to do so.
- Appreciate the positive behavior.
This is an essential component of most parenting styles, and yet, it’s also a common mistake that couples make when in a relationship. Too often, they focus more on the negative than the positive.
So, instead of letting them know you appreciate their efforts to give attention and affection, you may be more likely to nitpick what they’re not doing right. That can create a vicious cycle where one partner chases after the other to get things “right,” only to have their attempts fall short and end up feeling invalidated or unloved.
As a couple, you can practice positive reinforcement to help your partner feel loved and appreciated for their efforts. For example, if your partner tries to spend extra time with you by arranging date nights at home, praise their attempts and thank them for making it happen, even if they waited until the last minute. Or, if they try to be more attentive by sending you cute text messages during the day, they forget to follow up when it’s clear you need support.
- Go for a therapy session.
If you and your partner aren’t still communicating well, it can hinder resolving issues. If the situation remains the same despite the efforts, maybe it’s high time to seek professional help. Many couples seek relationship counseling when they are at a crisis point in their relationship. But even if you’re not having significant problems, seeing a therapist can be beneficial before things get to that point.
A healthy relationship requires both partners to be able to give and receive. If you feel like your partner is taking without giving, it may be time to re-evaluate the relationship. Remember: respect, understanding, and good treatment are part of a healthy relationship.
While many of these tips seem obvious, they’re frequently the hardest to act on. Let’s be realistic: if you haven’t already asked yourself the question, “How can I make my partner feel more emotionally connected?”—you probably won’t do it after reading this article. But even if you don’t end up trying any of these solutions, there’s no harm in thinking about them and considering why your connection might be so fragile. Hopefully, they provide a good jumping-off point for personal reflection at the very least.