EMOTIONAL NEGLECT: Signs of Emotional Neglect in Relationships & How to deal with it

Emotional Neglect

Emotional abuse can manifest itself in a variety of ways. It could be one person attempting to exert authority over another. It is a sort of deception in words that is frequently referred to as gaslighting. One person may belittle another person regularly. Emotional neglect is on the other extreme of the spectrum. Emotional neglect occurs both in a relationship and marriage.

Two people communicate words and thoughts in a relationship. They are in contact with one another. They share their feelings. As they spend more time together, their bond grows stronger. What happens to the relationship when one party fails to share himself? When a relationship fades naturally, each person goes their separate ways. Sometimes, the two people stay together in a one-sided relationship, with one person requiring support from the other but not receiving it.
A person who has been under emotional neglect from another person may experience the following:

  • empty
  • unwanted
  • separated from others
  • as if she is apart from everyone else

A person who has been emotionally neglected may frequently turn inward, blaming herself for the issue she is experiencing.

What is Emotional Neglect?

Emotional neglect is a relationship pattern in which a significant other continuously disregards, ignores, invalidates, or ignores an individual’s affectional needs.

What Is Emotional Neglect in a Relationship?

Marriage is built on the promise of being there for each other and sharing life events. The success of a relationship between life partners is founded on physical intimacy and a strong emotional bond. The latter often reveals itself as a grey region where most marital troubles originate.

When a partner begins to believe that their voice is not being heard, they are experiencing emotional neglect. From there, any marriage can quickly collapse and hit rock bottom.

When a partner pays little or no attention to their significant other’s emotional needs or fails to respond to their advances for emotional closeness, this is a classic incidence of emotional neglect in a marriage.

Emotional neglect in marriages or relationships sometimes entails putting up barriers between each other for no apparent cause.

Because there are no obvious indicators of emotional abuse, many couples fail to recognize it as a problem. However, the influence of such relational dynamics can be more profound and serve as a catalyst for other issues in a marriage.

Common Examples and Signs of Emotional Neglect in Marriages

While it might be difficult to spot emotional neglect in a marriage, there are several warning signs that can help you do so. O’Leary, an associate marriage and family therapist who currently practices with Estes Therapy in San Diego, California, highlights the various ways this behavior can manifest in a marriage, such as rejecting your partner, ignoring your partner or their attempts to connect, or disregarding the vulnerabilities they share or the boundaries they assert. Some common signs of emotional neglect are:

  • You feel alone in your relationship.
  • You prefer to spend time alone than with your partner.
  • When you try to talk to your partner, he or she shuts down.
  • You aren’t sure what your partner expects from you.
  • You do not engage in social activities as a couple.
  • Your go-to person is a friend, not a partner.
  • You consistently disregard or suppress your emotions.
  • You’re uncomfortable with your family and friends.
  • You procrastinate on long-term decisions and are hesitant to proceed with things like having children or buying a home.
  • There is a lack of physical intimacy.
  • You don’t feel like you can be yourself with your partner.
  • You do not trust your partner.
  • You feel like you’re living two lives despite living under the same roof
  • Your partner does not read or acknowledge your nonverbal distress signs.
  • Your partner actively avoids or refuses to participate in activities that make you happy.
  • You’re expected to make room for your partner’s emotions, but he or she won’t make room for yours.
  • Your partner constantly stonewalls you.

How Emotional Neglect in Childhood Affects a Family

As a psychologist who deals with adults who experienced childhood emotional neglect, I’ve seen how it affects people’s relationships with their families of origin. It often results in adult children who are aware that something is wrong with them but have no idea what it is and who is also perplexed by their sentiments about their relatives.

8 Warning Signs of Emotional Neglect in Your Family

  • Your family discussions are usually superficial, which means they are rarely about emotional, meaningful, unpleasant, or negative things. It may even get tedious as a result of this.
  • You occasionally have unexplained bitterness or animosity toward your parents (which you may feel guilty about).
  • You go to family gatherings hoping for a good time but usually leave feeling empty or disappointed.
  • Difficult or interpersonal issues in the family are frequently overlooked rather than being addressed immediately.
  • It appears like your siblings are competing against one another, but you’re not sure for what.
  • Affection in your family is conveyed through action (doing things for others) rather than words or emotional displays.
  • Feelings–perhaps simply negative emotions, but possibly all–appear to be forbidden in your household.
  • When you’re with your family, you feel shockingly lonely or excluded.

Members of an emotionally neglected family suffer as a result. They suffer as a result of what is unspoken, unshared, undiscussed, ignored, and invalidated. If your family is emotionally neglectful, you may notice some of the following indications whenever you spend time with them if you pay attention.

Children of Emotional Neglect as Adults

Emotional neglect signs are typically undiagnosed until they occur in young adulthood. Adults who were emotionally neglected as children frequently have issues but are unaware of their origins. They frequently struggle to understand who they are, what they expect of themselves, and what others expect of them. A classical pianist, for example, may be technically superb, but his music fails to move others. A high-achieving CEO who is an expert in his area and has a high IQ also has poor emotional intelligence (EQ).

Adults may exhibit the following symptoms:

  • Difficulties identifying and expressing emotions
  • Feelings of guilt and humiliation are common among easily embarrassed people.
  • Inability to empathize
  • Difficulty putting one’s trust in others
  • Highly critical/judgmental of oneself and others
  • Worrying sentiments, excessive concerns, and dissatisfaction
  • Feel the urge to please others
  • Difficulty in requesting assistance or support
  • Rage directed at oneself, as well as anger directed at others
  • Feeling like a fraud, as if you’re hiding behind a mask, or as if you’re disconnected from yourself
  • Perfectionism combined with a high sensitivity to thoughts of failure
  • Sensitivity to rejection sentiments
  • Others perceive you as remote, aloof, or haughty.
  • Feelings of emptiness, dissatisfaction, or a lack of joy are pervasive.

Many people are unaware of the physical implications of suppressing or disconnecting from emotions. It puts more strain on our bodies and raises the risk of heart disease and diabetes. It weakens our immune system, making us more susceptible to disease, stiff joints, and bone fragility.

Common Causes of Emotional Neglect in Marriages

The specific causes of emotional neglect may differ from one relationship to the next, but the underlying theme is a change or transfer in the support one partner gives to the other. This could include one partner starting a new job or a new mother focusing on her infant. Of course, emotional neglect in a marriage can sometimes be caused by an extramarital affair.

O’Leary also notes that the source of emotional neglect could be deeper. “Emotional neglect often stems from an individual’s own attachment injuries. If someone never learned how to have a supportive, healthy relationship in childhood or adolescence, they will struggle to make that change in adulthood.” However, these behaviors do not mean finding a path forward won’t be possible. “Struggle does not mean unable; however, it will take work, but the way you interact with others and within your relationships is malleable,” according to her.

5 Ways to Handle Emotional Neglect in Marriage

Complaining that “my hubby is not emotionally supportive” will not help your issue. If you want to continue in the marriage despite a fading connection with your spouse, you must take matters into your own hands and find strategies to cope with this emotional neglect.

Here are 5 strategies for dealing with emotional neglect that may help you keep your marriage from breaking apart.

#1. Solve the challenges in a constructive manner.

Choose an acceptable moment to speak with your spouse about the challenges that have arisen in your marriage as a result of his emotional neglect.

Try to maintain a compassionate and caring approach while listening to his side of the tale. You must both work together to find a long-term solution to this situation.

#2. Avoid playing the victim card.

Your husband’s actions have caused you a great deal of pain and emotional distress. Even so, try not to play the victim card throughout your chats in order to restore harmony in the partnership.

Furthermore, encouraging honest, open talks may assist you in identifying any flaws in your methods that may be provoking his emotionally absent frame of mind.

Instead of crying, try to figure out why this is occurring.

#3. Rekindle the flame of love

Spend time together, go to social events as a pair, plan date nights

to relive the fantastic times you’ve had with each other and make your husband fall in love with you all over again

Chances are he genuinely loves you, but he has drifted apart due to a variety of challenges in his life.

#4. Consult with a therapist

When a marriage is going through a hard patch, it can be difficult for the spouses to resolve a conflict on their own since egos come into play, and you may not be able to take an empathic view of your partner’s perspectives.

Seeking aid from a therapist or a marriage counselor in such a situation as emotional neglect is always recommended. There is no shame or stigma associated with it. In reality, it indicates that you and your spouse are both willing to work on your marriage through relationship counseling.

#5. Take your time

If you still love your husband and can’t face the thought of losing him, your best choice is to be patient as you go through the process of healing and repairing your relationship. Your husband will eventually find his way back into your heart and spirit.

As Pragati Sureka points out, emotional neglect can occur in a marriage, but how you cope with it is entirely up to you. If you notice indicators of spousal neglect in your marriage, you should make the necessary efforts to repair it.

What Is Considered Emotional Neglect?

If your spouse spends most of his time alone, seldom sets plans with you, rarely shows you care and concern, and you feel lonely in the relationship, this could indicate emotional neglect.

Can You Give an Example of Emotional Neglect?

When a spouse rarely communicates with you and shares all of his joy, grief, and problems with his friends and colleagues, this can be an indication of spousal neglect.

Is It Possible for a Marriage to Survive Without Emotional Intimacy?

Without emotional closeness, a marriage cannot survive. People can survive a sexless marriage without cheating, but it is difficult for a marriage to survive without a mental connection and communication.

Can Emotional Neglect Be Used as Grounds for Divorce?

Yes, emotional neglect might be grounds for divorce because it is difficult to survive in a relationship if there is no mental connection. Marriage is about companionship; there is no need to continue if this does not exist.

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