Abuse/neglect isn’t always about the physical. It’s important to look for the signs of emotional neglect in a relationship, too.
A truly loving relationship is mutually beneficial. You want to build up your partner to make them feel good and support them to be the best they can be. You do so because you love them. It makes you feel good to see them doing well. However, not all relationships are like that, making the recognition of the signs of emotional neglect in a relationship essential. Because sometimes relationships turn toxic.
This can be down to one partner lacking empathy, not being particularly interested, or simply having narcissistic tendencies that aren’t so obvious, or it can be because events within a relationship have caused it to completely break down.
Whatever the reason, an unhealthy relationship can run you into the ground, zap away your self-esteem, and cause you to feel completely alone.
Emotional neglect is just as damaging as physical abuse. They are both things which should never be present in a relationship. Sadly, many people find themselves in this very situation.
Sometimes the neglect is so carefully disguised that you can go for months or even years without realizing that you’re being subjected to emotional abuse or neglect. For that reason, understanding the signs of emotional neglect in a relationship is key.
#1 Regular bouts of gaslighting. This one isn’t so easy to spot straightaway, mostly because gaslighting is extremely subtle. It’s a form of manipulation that narcissists regularly use. Unfortunately, it’s too common. Gaslighting means that you cause someone to doubt themselves, sometimes to the point where they doubt their own sanity.
For instance, your partner might arrange to meet you after work at your favorite restaurant at the end of a busy working week. You get excited, wait outside the restaurant as planned, only for them not to turn up. When you call to ask them where they are, they deny any knowledge of arranging the meeting. They make you question whether it actually happened or not.
Over time, gaslighting is extremely dangerous and certainly one of the signs of emotional neglect in a relationship to be aware of.
#2 Saying one thing and doing another. Inconsistency is not attractive. Sometimes it’s carefully hidden and erodes away at your happiness in a relationship. If your partner is regularly saying they’re going to do one thing, but then they do the exact opposite, it’s not only frustrating, but it’s a sign of disrespect and emotional neglect too.
#3 Simply not listening to what you say. If your partner often cuts you off mid-sentence, changes the subject, or doesn’t listen to you at all, they don’t respect you. Everyone is allowed a voice. Everyone deserves to be listened to. If your partner is constantly cutting you off and just not listening, it’s one of the major signs of emotional neglect in a relationship.
#4 Often putting you down. This sign can either be in private or in front of others. The damage is the same either way. In a healthy relationship, you want to build up your partner and make them feel good. You see the best in them. If your partner is always pointing out your negative traits or pulling you down, it’s not a sign of a healthy relationship. [Read: All the ways manipulative people emotionally mess with your mind]
#5 Blaming you for every little thing. If you often find that whatever goes on in life is always your fault, the chances of that being true are slim. You are not to blame for everything. Sure, we all do things occasionally and it’s our fault when the outcome is negative. But if your partner is making you feel like you’re to blame for everything, that’s a huge red flag. Healthy relationships create a sense of safety. Even if you do make a mistake, you work through it together.
#6 They make you feel like you’re worthless. This is one of the major signs of emotional neglect in a relationship. And it is certainly one of the side effects of gaslighting. Narcissists often make their partners feel like they’re worth nothing so that they stick around and don’t attempt to leave for someone else.
#7 Never sitting down to talk. Not everyone likes deep and heavy conversations. Nevertheless, sometimes you have to talk about things in some way. If your partner simply refuses to acknowledge a problem in the relationship, never wants to sit and talk about important things, and always brushes it off as not important, it’s a sign of abuse over the long-term.
When you neglect your partner, you fail to give them what they need from you. If you need to discuss something and your partner flatly refuses, they’re neglecting your emotional needs.
#8 Not being there for you when you really need them. Everyone struggles sometimes. If you just need a hug from your partner and they’re never there for you, they’re neglecting your basic needs. In a relationship, it’s important to be each other’s biggest fans. It also means being there when someone is having a bad day or struggling with a particular issue. [Read: Am I being taken for granted? 16 discreet signs to watch out]
#9 Never meeting your eyes. You might think that eye contact is nothing special, but when your partner never looks you directly in the eye, they’re basically showing you that you’re insignificant to them. It’s also a sign that they’re hiding something. It does nothing but make you feel worried and potentially paranoid. That’s not a good state to be in.
#10 They make everything about them. We can all be selfish or self-absorbed occasionally, but if everything is always your partner’s needs, they’re failing to meet yours. Everything should be equal. While it’s normal for the balance to tip slightly if your partner is going through a rough time, it should never be over a prolonged period of time. [Read: Selfishness in relationships and 15 ways to do the right thing]
#11 Giving you the cold shoulder. If you say or do something which your partner doesn’t like, do they give you the cold shoulder or come over all passive aggressive?
This is a common thing to occur in abusive relationships. It neglects your emotional needs because they’re not opening up and talking to you. A supportive partner will communicate when they’re not happy about something, in a way which is constructive and non-blaming.
#12 They don’t make an effort with your nearest and dearest. We all want our partners to get along with our friends and family members. Even if your partner isn’t the greatest fan of someone in your inner circle, they should make an effort and not allow it to show. If your partner doesn’t even try, they simply don’t care. This is one of the signs of emotional neglect in a relationship over time. [Read: 20 signs you’re a people pleaser and don’t even know it!]
#13 You regularly feel alone, even when they’re next to you. This is a huge red flag. Someone who isn’t having their emotional needs met will always feel lonely, even if the person they love is next to them. If you never feel loved and supportive, it’s time to question the relationship.