Feeling unwanted in a relationship is one of the worst places to be, emotionally. Here you have a partner that you have chosen to love and cherish. But they have been unable to reciprocate those feelings. At least, not in the way that you expect.
Your partner may feel the same way as you do but may just lack the ability to convey it in words and gestures. Or they may just not be as invested in the relationship as you are. Either way, that unshakable sense of feeling alone even when you’re with someone can take a toll on your mind. You’re feeling unheard in the relationship, and thinking, ‘my boyfriend makes me feel unwanted.’
So, how do you deal with feeling unwanted in a relationship? Kavita Panyam (Masters in Counseling Psychology and diploma holder in Community Mental Health for Psychologists), tells you how you can take charge of the situation and handle it effectively.
What Does Feeling Unwanted In A Relationship Mean?
Feeling unwanted in a relationship is a complex emotion. One that is hard to define and put labels on. That’s because feeling alone or unwanted even when you’re in a relationship can manifest in many ways and for many different reasons.
“Feeling unwanted could mean one of three things,” explains Kavita. “You’re feeling out of place in your relationships. Or, your partner is unable to accommodate you financially, emotionally, socially and physically, for whatever reason. Finally, it could be that you’re the only one putting in any effort to nurture the relationship. Despite being part of a couple, you’re living a single life.”
In other words, there are some common triggers that can leave a person feeling lonely even with the presence of a partner in their life. And some common manifestations of this feeling. The top among these is a partner’s inability to prioritize you. If your partner cannot make time for you but has time for everything else –work, family, hobbies, and friends – it’s only natural that you may start feeling unwanted.
Similarly, a partner who tends to gaslight or stonewall you can make you feel unloved and unheard in the relationship. Ultimately, leaving you feeling dejected. A sense of distance of disconnect can also be a potential trigger for this unpleasant feeling.
Perhaps, you and your partner are dealing with some issues, which have caused you to drift apart. Since you don’t feel as close to them as you used to, you may start viewing it as a sign that their feelings for you have changed. This, in turn, makes you feel that you’re unwanted by them. It’s got you sighing, ‘my boyfriend makes me feel unwanted.’
Major life changes such as childbirth, moving to different cities for professional pursuits, a personal loss such as a death in the family, can take a toll on the affected partner. As a result, they may start behaving differently than they used to. This changed behavior can make you nervous about your place in their life in the wake of such life-altering experiences. Even if you can empathize with their state of mind.
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Indicators you may be becoming unwanted in a relationship
There is a difference between feeling unwanted in a relationship and actually being unwelcome. Learning to tell these two apart can help you understand whether the root of this feeling you’re living with lies within you or in your relationship.
Here are some tell-tale indicators that you may be becoming unwanted in your relationship:
- Less time together: You and your partner spend less quality time together. Those weekly or bi-weekly dates have become a thing of the past
- Intimacy nosedives: Physical as well as emotional intimacy in your relationship nosedives when your partner begins to see you as an unwanted accessory in their life
- No special gestures: Those cute little things couple do for each other – sending flowers for no reason, bringing home chocolate cake to comfort a PMS-ing partner, dimming the lights and dancing with arms wrapped around each other – turn into a distant memory
- Canceling on you: If your partner cancels on you more often than not, you can read it as a sign that it’s not just you who is feeling unwanted in a relationship. They too view you the same way
- Constant unavailability: You may start feeling like you’re the only one in the relationship because your partner is constantly unavailable. If not physically, then emotionally. They may spend all their time away from you tied up with social and professional commitments. Or stay hooked to their computer, phone or gaming station, even when they’re sitting right next to you
- Not initiating contact: If you’re unwanted in your relationship, your partner won’t be the one to initiate contact. They’d never call or text first. Yes, they may answer your calls or reply to your messages. But with them, even that will dwindle, if not stop completely
- No long-term plans: A partner who has started viewing you differently will hesitate to make long-term plans with you. They may either change the subject if you try to initiate a conversation on such topics or be non-committal in their responses
- Feeling like a friend: Do you feel like your partner has started treating you more like a friend than a partner? Truth is, your status may have been downgraded owing to their changed perspective of you and the relationship
What To Do When You’re Feeling Unwanted In A Relationship?
Once you’ve identified the reasons why you’re feeling unloved and unwanted in a relationship, you need to figure out what you can do about it. This depends on whether your partner is doing something to make you feel lonely and unloved or these feelings are a result of certain underlying personal issues.
Based on your specific circumstances, you can adopt some or all of these measures to stop feeling unwanted in a romantic partnership:
1. Look within if you’re feeling unwanted in a relationship
The first order of business, if you can’t shake off feeling dejected and alone in a relationship, is to introspect a little. Are you insecure in relationships? If yes, this can be one of the key reasons why you’re feeling unwanted. Do you grapple with anxiety? That too can be a crucial trigger.
“Think about it,” urges Kavita. “You get into a connection, try to create an equation, a healthy one where there is equal give-and-take and proper boundaries are in place. But remember, barricades and boundaries not the same. Having too many barricades means you can’t reach your partner, and they can’t reach you. This could be due to childhood trauma which may lead to you having very rigid barricades or no boundaries at all.”
This can make you feel alone and unwanted in a connection.
A lot of times we tend to project our own issues onto our partners and relationships, and become trapped in a never-ending cycle of negative imagination. Try as you may, once this sense that you’re unwanted in a relationship takes hold, it’s not easy to shake it off. In this case, the best recourse is to work on yourself to stop feeling unloved in a relationship.
“If there are no boundaries, you are present in everybody’s life, allowing everyone in your life, and you have no rest or recuperation time. Too much of presence can also dull a relationship and you feel neglected, alone and unwanted,” Kavita warns.
Counseling or talk therapy can work wonders in helping you progress in the right direction.
2. Analyze your past relationships
If you can’t seem to decide whether these unsettling feelings originate from within or are a manifestation of your issues with your partner, analyze your past relationships. Have you struggled with feeling unwanted in a relationship in the past too? Are you feeling unheard in a relationship only now, or has this happened before?
Does this feeling typically take hold after the exciting honeymoon phase is over? Do you feel dejected when your partner dials back on the can’t-keep-my-hands-off-you display of affection? If yes, then this sense of loneliness is stemming from a poor or problematic attachment style. Perhaps, you had your heart skinned in the past.
And the lingering pain of the experience makes you nervous and unsettled if you don’t get attention from your partner.
Kavita explains, “You might often end up in in dysfunctional relationships where you are unwanted. You try to rescue people and expect them to love you back in return, to give you the love you may missed out on in your childhood. This is called repetition-compulsion. Often, this leads to you trying to help people who don’t even want to be helped, but who won’t let you go because of your seemingly endless capacity to give. But this is not healthy. This is a connection that will go nowhere, and result in fights and toxicity.”
3. Pay attention to signs of toxicity
“If there is narcissism, manipulation and a lack of truth in your relationship, you will end up feeling alone and unwanted,” Kavita says. In other words, you could also be feeling unwanted in a relationship if your partner displays toxic tendencies. Or if your couple dynamics are toxic.
Does your partner have a way of manipulating you? If you’re constantly subjected to gaslighting or stonewalling, it’s not unusual to start feeling unheard or unloved in the relationship.
Similarly, being subjected to physical, verbal or emotional abuse can also leave you feeling dejected. While physical abuse or violence is easy to identify, spotting the signs of subtle emotional abuse can become challenging for the person who is at the receiving end.
“If as a child you endured trauma or abuse, it’s possible you would have become numb to physical touch and to the feelings they elicit. It becomes tough for people to reach you because you are not present in your feelings. Trauma is stored in the body and your body has numbed itself to prevent further pain,” Kavita explains.
After some time, things fizzle out because partner cannot reach you and so they distance from you,” she adds.
Try talking to someone you trust or seek guidance from a trained counselor to learn how to identify signs of toxicity. Talk therapy can help you uncover and resolve issues that you cannot identify or process on your own and help you not feel unwanted.
Related Reading: Love is not a competition…it’s not about who cares more
4. Identify what actions make you feel unwanted
When you’re feeling unwanted in a relationship, sit back and think about what did your partner do to make you feel this way. Perhaps, they have taken on a new work assignment and have been too pre-occupied to give you time and attention. Or maybe, they’re emotionally distant and unavailable. For instance, you may be talking to them, sharing something important, and they’re looking at their phone the entire time. Replying in monosyllables, if at all.
“When you look at another person to fulfil you, to completely heal the betrayals and trauma of your formative years, that is not possible. You have to be honest, and vulnerable. But if you are guarded, it might lead to negative interactions and fights and create a distance. No other person can fill your lack, though they can lend help and support. But that support is not indefinite – you have to take action or they feel you are merely complaining all the time, and will eventually distance themselves,” Kavita says.
If you’re feeling unloved and unwanted in a relationship, remember there are instances where your partner’s actions are due to circumstances beyond their control, in which case neither of you can do much other than waiting it out. But if they’re knowingly or unwittingly behaving in ways that are making you feel alone and unloved, there is definitely scope to make things better and help you not feel unwanted.
Provided, they have the intent to do the necessary work.
5. Talk to your partner
When you feel unwanted, communicate, communicate, communicate. A host of relationship problems can be solved and neutralized with surprising ease if both partners learn the art of healthy communication. Once you’re sure that this sense of feeling unwanted in a relationship isn’t a creation of your own mind, reach out to your partner.
Talk to them about how their actions and words are making you feel. Tell them that you love them, care for them, or value them, and would want to make the relationship work. Extend an olive branch and see if they’re willing to make amends.
It is not unlikely that your partner may be blissfully unaware that their actions are having such a serious impact on you.
6. Don’t let it dent your self-confidence
Feeling unwanted in a relationship can sow seeds of self-doubt in your mind. Am I not good enough? Am I not worthy of love? What have I done to push my partner away? Is there something about me that makes me an unworthy partner?
Letting these questions weigh on your mind is a sure-fire way of denting your self-confidence and self-esteem. So, steer clear of the tendency to overthink and brood while dealing with feeling unwanted in a relationship.
An effective way to do so is by keeping yourself engaged in other fulfilling pursuits. Throw yourself into work, cultivate a hobby, spend time with friends or family who make you feel loved and cherished.
“You cannot get complacent about yourself and by extension, your relationships,” Kavita says. “If you stopped growing as a person the relationship becomes a stunted connection. Look after yourself, invest in yourself and value yourself if you want the world to value you.”
“Exercise, meet people, build your self-worth and esteem. Self-worth is your image of who you are, self-esteem is how much you believe in it. Ultimately, your joy and sorrow are within you. Check in with yourself and keep re-aligning with yourself. Remember, you attract what you are,” Kavita says.
7. Seek relationship counseling
As long as both you and your partner can see that your feeling unwanted in a relationship is not unfounded, you can correct course. Even if certain unresolved issues between you have made your partner distant and left you feeling alone. However, it is typically not possible for couples to resolve such issues on their own when feeling unloved in a relationship.
That’s why going into couple’s therapy, and working under the guidance of a trained therapist or counselor can help you make progress. Counseling has proven benefits and you must leverage these to improve the quality of your relationship.
8. Choose to walk away
If despite your efforts to make your partner see how you’re feeling in the relationship, they don’t make amends at their end, staying becomes meaningless. No matter how much you love them or value your relationship.
“When trying to create new equations in an already existing, healthy connection, it is called re-aligning rather than coping. “Coping is heavy, stressful word. Re-aligning doesn’t pull you down, you do it together without obligation or effort,” Kavita says.
If you’re constantly ‘coping’ rather than re-aligning, remember, no one is worth sacrificing your peace of mind or sense of self over. Not even the love of your life. If they don’t value you enough to make you feel loved and cherished, you are better off on your own.
Dealing with feeling unwanted in a relationship isn’t easy. But with the right guidance and a strong resolve, you can sail through. Just remember to put yourself first when you’re in a relationship with someone who doesn’t.
A relationship should make you feel loved, cherished, cared for and secure.
Yes, you may feel off or distant in a relationship from time to time, especially when going through a rough patch. It is when this feeling becomes all-pervasive that it signals to a deep-rooted problem.
When despite trying your best, you cannot get your partner to see the error of their ways or make amends to make you feel loved and secure, it’s best to walk away. When you feel unwanted and you know there’s really no hope, let it go.
As long as both partners can acknowledge problems and are willing to work them through, a relationship is worth saving.