How to Tell Your Partner You’re Feeling Neglected

Emotional neglect could be a sign that something in your relationship isn’t right. Feeling neglected or lonely in a relationship can be painful – and is often a sign that something is amiss. It might be a matter of perception, rather than a list of behaviours, according to Relate counsellor Rachel Davies.

What to do when you feel neglected in your relationship. | Feeling neglected by your partner .

It can be hard to admit that you need a little bit more in your relationship. But it’s a conversation worth having. By

i feel neglected in my relationship

So, you’re feeling a bit neglected by your partner. This isn’t unusual to experience, especially for parents, because — spoiler alert — kids change a lot about your life, including your relationship. Chances are, you planned for, or at least expected, the change. But there are still times when you need a little more from your significant other. And that can be hard to admit. ADVERTISEMENT

“Having needs makes it seem like you’re needy,” offers Sarah Epstein, licensed marriage and family therapist in Dallas and author of Love in the Time of Medical School.

To have needs may go against the ingrained idea that you should always be the one who solves problems, not creates them. But expressing your needs is not being needy. In fact it’s part of being in a relationship where you ask for stuff and where the other person gives you what you might be missing, and vice versa. ADVERTISEMENT

Still, vulnerability is difficult — especially because your partner is also busy and has needs of their own. And maybe you never had to ask for attention before because attention was always given to you before kids, and you don’t have those muscles. Dropping hints, you think, might be better, but such passive behavior likely isn’t going to work.

The initial challenge, then, is working up the guts to say how you feel, and the first step is to acknowledge that what you’re feeling is not nothing. “You’re lonely for good reason,” says Ellyn Bader, psychologist and co-founder/CEO of The Couples Institute. “You were the center of attention before the kids came along.”

The next step is thinking about what happens when you stay silent. Short answer: Nothing good. You become resentful. You start looking for attention elsewhere or you fold further inward. Neither road leads to places you want to go.

So you have ample motivation, but telling your partner your feelings is still tricky. There are plenty of ways to broach the topic. Some are good, a lot are bad and only serve to make things worse. Here are some options for the former. ADVERTISEMENT

1. “What’s been different?”

Before you say anything to your partner, first ask this to yourself. Something is off, but it helps to figure out exactly what. It could be getting slammed at work for either one of you, an upcoming family visit, or that you haven’t had a babysitter since pre-pandemic. When you consider your partner’s perspective, you naturally pause, become more reflective and come into the conversation with both empathy and details. That’s necessary. “When you can name it, you can address something,” Epstein says.

2. “I have something to talk about. Can we find a good time?”

There really never is a great time when you have young kids, but issues often get raised at night, which really is the worst time. You’re both tapped out, and your partner particularly since it’s been another day of constant requests that turn into demands.

By saying the above, you’re requesting time and giving a heads-up to an important conversation so your partner can go in prepared. A natural question could be, “What’s this about?” Don’t answer it, unless you want to have a train wreck exchange right then and there. Instead, say, “It’s nothing bad and it’s nothing you did wrong. I just want to talk about something.” Or, if it fits, say, “You know how you always want me to be more open? That’s what this is about but I want to find the best time for us.” ADVERTISEMENT

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