Worried because your partner isn't giving you time and attention?
Jenny is irritated and worried. It seems that her fiance, Nick, has been ignoring her for the past several weeks. Sure, he talks to her and shares meals with her, but he seems distant and far away. He forgot their dinner date the other night which he's never done-- ever.
Jenny is aware that the past few years have been difficult for Nick. His father's health swiftly declined and he died two years ago. On top of the grief about losing his father, Nick has spent a lot of time helping his mother transition to her new life as a widow. To make matters worse, several months ago, Nick was passed up for a promotion at work.
He copes with the grief and stress by spending more and more time online. In the evenings and on weekends, he's often playing computer games and browsing the net. Jenny can understand his need for distraction, but she is starting to take this personally.
Nick proposed to Jenny just a few weeks before his father's health crisis and death. Since that time, he's doesn't talk about them getting married and seems uninterested in setting a date. Jenny is starting to wonder if he still wants to get married to her at all.
She feels neglected, ignored and all alone.
If you feel neglected by your partner, like Jenny, you might have a clear idea about why this is. It could be that your partner is dealing with illness, stress, drama in his or her family or something else that is unexpected and difficult. You may be sympathetic to what your partner is going through...and you also miss having the expression of love and attention that you're used to.
On the other hand, you might be used to feeling ignored by your partner. Perhaps, from your perspective, you've been low on his or her priority list since day one of your relationship. Maybe you say “I love you” to your partner, but don't hear it often-- or ever.
While every situation is different, feeling like you aren't important, special or maybe even loved by your partner is sad and scary.
In reaction to how you feel, you might get needy and demand your partner's attention or you may withdraw into yourself and possibly even act in passive-aggressive ways. These reactions are never effective if what you want is loving attention and connection with your partner.
When you feel neglected and ignored, don't...
Unless you have verifiable evidence that your partner is breaking your agreements, lying to you or cheating, chances are your accusations will push him or her further away.
Jump to conclusions
It might seem clear to you what's taking your partner away from you, but don't assume. It's likely that you're wrong or not aware of the whole story.
Ignore important information
Don't dismiss reliable information. If there are contradictions or things don't add up about what your partner says, pay attention. If he or she is asking you for help in some way, be aware of that too.
As hurt and angry as you might feel, don't get defensive. Being needy for attention, whining or trying to justify being needy isn't going to move your partner closer to you.
Play the victim
We know, your partner's actions might feel like a rejection of you. Try not to play the victim and make this ALL about you-- unless you know for sure that it really IS all about you.
It can be useful to set a firm boundary. This doesn't have to be delivered as a demand. The difference is that a demand pushes against the other person to manipulate or bring about a particular result. A boundary is merely the clear statement of specific needs and conditions that you have.
Keep returning to the facts.
Reliable facts can free you from anguish and emotional pain. Remembering them can also benefit your relationship. It is always in your best interests to pause before you react. Sort out what you know is true from what you are merely guessing about.
This can help you decide what response will potentially allow you to re-connect with your partner.
Jenny can stop herself when she begins to fixate on the question of why Nick doesn't talk about their engagement. This doesn't mean that she ignores her desire to know what he wants; it just means that she doesn't go down the path of guessing what he's thinking.
Instead, she can stay focused on what she knows. She can remember that they did cuddle and watch a movie together recently. She can keep in mind the big upheavals in Nick's life.
Jenny can also be honest with herself about what HER needs are. She feels for Nick and what he's been through in the past few years and she can also honor her own needs. She can ask herself how long she's willing to wait to get married and also what she specifically needs to feel special and loved now.
Meet your own needs first.
Here's the trap that many people in relationships fall into... They look to their partner to “make” them feel loved, special, attractive and successful. This just doesn't work and can make a person feel even more alone and neglected.
While it's understandable that anyone would want to feel his or her partner's love, if this is how you feel, please remember that it's not your partner's job to do this. It's YOUR JOB to make sure your needs are met and that you feel special and loved.
This can be tricky because a relationship does survive and thrive when love and appreciation are expressed on a regular basis. But, they thrive even more when the individuals in the relationship are actively meeting their own needs first and do NOT make the other person responsible for how they feel.
If you feel sad or insecure, do what you can to soothe yourself in truly soothing ways. Write in a journal, treat yourself to nurturing self-care and meet with a professional counselor or coach if you're struggling to feel better.
There's certainly nothing wrong with asking your partner for a hug or some other specific request for support, but don't expect him or her to make you feel a certain way.
When you're doing your best to meet your own needs first, then you can talk with your partner about his or her behavior that feels neglectful to you. From this place, you are less likely to sound needy or demanding.
You can also more easily listen to what your partner is going through and then create some agreements that will help you two re-connect.
Susie and Otto Collins are relationship coaches and authors who help couples communicate, connect and create the relationship they desire. Click here to get their free ebook, Passionate Heart-Lasting Love.