What To Do (And Not Do) When You're Feeling Neglected By Your Partner

It happens more often than you may think.

What To Do (And Not Do) If You're Feeling Neglected In A Relationship Cast Of Thousands / shutterstock

If you feel lonely in a relationship or like you're being neglected by your partner, you might have a clear idea about why this is. It could be that your partner is dealing with illness, stress, or drama with his or her family members, or something else that is unexpected and difficult.

You may be sympathetic to what your partner is going through, but you can still miss having the expression of love and attention that you're used to in a relationship.


Feeling neglected in a relationship can be different for each person, but it mostly feels like you aren't being taken care of. You may be feeling unloved, ignored, or in need of something.

On the other hand, you might be used to feeling emotional neglect from 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.

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While every situation is different, feeling like you aren't important, special, or maybe even loved by your partner is sad and scary. Feeling emotionally neglected is not normal for healthy relationships.

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.

What to do when you're feeling neglected

1. 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. This can help you decide what response will potentially allow you to reconnect with your partner.


For instance, if there is no emotional support in the relationship, point it out with clear-cut examples.

2. 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, 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 don't make the other person responsible for how they feel.


If you feel sad or insecure, do what you can to soothe yourself in truly relaxing ways. Write in a journal, treat yourself to nurturing self-care, and meet with a professional counselor or relationship 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, 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 agreements that will help you to reconnect. Because for a relationship to prosper you need the foundations of emotional connection, love, and support.


3. Have a solution-focused mindset.

If you are feeling neglected your mind can immediately be set in the blame game, "It's your partner's fault this is happening." While sometimes they do need to do more it's better to go into the conversation with your mindset on finding a solution rather than criticizing your partner. That never truly makes things better. So instead try looking at what feeling fulfilled and satisfied looks like to you and how you think you can accomplish this. Then communicate this with your partner using "I" statements.

Instead of saying "You don't hug me enough" say "I feel like I need more affection from you so I can feel closer and important in the relationship."

4. Talk to your partner.

In most cases when you feel neglected one partner doesn't realize and it becomes a vicious cycle of... you guessed it, miscommunication. So if you are feeling neglected or left out or not important in the relationship, bring it up to your partner. Talk about what you are feeling and discuss possible solutions.

Communication is the number 1 way to have a solid foundation, so it makes sense that communicating how you are feeling is the best way to have your partner understand and to imp[element change.


5. Talk to a professional

Getting a professional's help is always a great option and resource to use when issues arise in your relationship. Counselors are trained to help couples navigate hard conversations and root out the source of the issue as well as guide them to a solution that works for both parties.

Find a couples counselor or therapist to help you navigate this situation and figure out exactly how to help.

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What not to do when you're feeling neglected

1. Accuse

If you're accusing your partner of something, then you're not open to listening, and they won't be either.


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.

2. 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.

3. Ignore important information

Don't dismiss reliable information when talking with your partner.

If there are contradictions or things that don't add up about what your partner says, paying attention is key. If he or she is asking you for help in some way, be aware of that, too.


4. Get defensive

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.

5. Play the victim

Your partner's actions might feel like they're rejecting you, but try not to play the victim and make this all about you — unless you know for sure that it really is all about you.

6. Make demands

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.


It can be hard to not act this way when we're feeling hurt and stressed, but it's not impossible. Fortunately, there are healthy ways that you can communicate your needs.

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Susie and Otto Collins are Certified Transformative Coaches who help couples communicate, connect, and create the relationship they desire. You'll find articles and videos on many relationship topics, as well as a free ebook on fixing your communication, on their website.