“No matter how busy a person’s day may be, if they really care, they will always find time for you.”
Most relationships don’t die from disagreements or unreasonable expectations.
It’s that slow drift into the busy-ness of every day life that distracts us just enough that we aren’t even aware it’s happening.
We just stop paying attention to each other in that connected way until it’s too late.
That said, don’t panic. Just the act of noticing is a big start. But be careful where you go from here. That initial panic can drive you to complain, over-analyze, and make demands. Know that this will only drive your partner further away.
So what then?
1. Don’t read too much into it.
It happens in every relationship. And just because your partner hasn’t noticed that anything is missing doesn’t mean he doesn’t care. Until you noticed, you didn’t notice either.
2. Bring it up.
Pick a time when you can both be fully present to talk. Don’t impose your urgency on your partner. The conversation should be calm and loving. The point of talking about it is to bring it to the table so you can both come up with a plan to get the relationship back on track.
3. Accept responsibility.
Nothing in your relationship happens in a vacuum. You both have a role in neglecting each other, even if you think you have been paying attention.
4. Get curious.
Most likely, your partner has very different needs in the relationship than you do. This is where listening is far more valuable than talking. Ask lots of questions without assuming or judging the answers.
5. Make a list.
What needs to change and how will you make it all happen? Many people get stuck believing that neglected relationships need grand or expensive gestures. But the smallest things are most effective: Holding hands in the car. Expressions of appreciation. A cup of coffee together before you split off for the day.
Take action and know your relationship isn’t over. It just needs a reboot.
Bobbi Jankovich, LMFT – www.bobbijankovich.com
Get excited and passionate about your own life.
When you feel disgruntled because you feel like you are not getting what you want, whether it’s being/feeling ignored, taken for granted, or not appreciated, it’s time to turn things around.
One of the best ways I know to do this is to define what makes you happy and start focusing more on that.
Perhaps you are neglecting yourself in important ways. Perhaps you are giving up on your own needs, wishes and dreams for your life.
It may sound selfish to some, but really caring enough about ourselves sends a strong message to our partner.
We then put fuel back in the tank so to speak and from there we are in a better place to articulate our needs and to make changes in a relationship.
If we have a strong sense of self, the “I” in relationship, as well as a sense of togetherness, the “we”, then we can request without judgment and blame, we can state what is fair to us and what we will tolerate and what we won’t.
By looking after our own needs as well as we can, by investing in our own lives and taking ourselves seriously, we then reduce the risk of overloading the expectations in the relationship. We don’t then expect our partners to meet all of our needs.
The best way to avoid being taken for granted is to be clear about the part we play in the relationship dynamic and to be willing to step back and change our own steps in the dance.
Margie Ulbrick, LLB/BA/GD SOCSCI – www.margieulbrickcounselling.com
Two common, human qualities are the needs for connections with others and validation.
Validation can mean verbalizing something you had noticed about your partner, such as something they did which you appreciated. Likewise, your partner taking time to listen and talk with you can feel validating.
We can validate each other even when we do not feel the same way about something as our partner, or even understand why they are experiencing a certain emotional state.
One instance of this is asking your partner to help you understand why they feel so intensely about something in particular.
Because we are not mind readers, we often must express to our partners that we need to hear them say they love and appreciate us.
While we may know this logically, these emotions can frequently feel very different, especially if we are angry with them. There is nothing wrong with asking for validation and providing our partner examples of ways to do this.
Each of us has different ways we prefer to experience validation, and we cannot assume our partners know what they are.
Such assumptions build toward resentment, and resentment breeds misery. If you wish to free yourself from misery, let your partner know you need validation from them.
Naturally talking about validation and making these requests requires a certain dialog level in your relationship.
One example is validation through verbalizing a quality you noticed in your partner, like how they kiss you or express affection. You must learn how to communicate with each other.
Develop ways to speak without contempt, listen with compassion, and perceive with both your eyes and heart.
Laura Pryor, LIMHP, LPC, PLADC – www.laurapryortherapy.com
If you feel taken for granted, it’s easy to feel resentful and pull away from your partner or communicate your feelings in an angry or critical manner. This will only add to the problem.
To be part of the solution, I suggest you check in with your partner and ask in a kind, curious manner, how they are.
You can let them know what you’ve noticed in a gentle way, i.e.
“Lately you’ve seemed preoccupied. I made your favorite meal last night and it didn’t seem to register. All week it seems as if you’ve been distant and distracted. I’m wondering if you’re stressed about something.”
Talking through what’s going on may help you understand why your partner’s been less than appreciative of you lately.
This can help build your compassion, and de-personalize the behavior, while at the same time increase your partner’s awareness that their actions have been affecting you.
As you talk about how you’d like things to be different, frame the change as a way to better take care of you both.
If you come in with “I need more from you” when your partner already feels over-worked and undervalued (a common pre-cursor to people taking other’s for granted because they are so wrapped up in their own stress/pain) then you will most likely be met with anger and resentment.
Your relationship already has enough anger and resentment at this point…the last thing it needs is more of those two emotions.
Try approaching your partner with compassion and win-win solutions:
“I hate to see you so stressed. I know I can even feel it when things get so hard for you. I watch you get overwhelmed with work and so focused on catching up that I feel sort of lonely and taken for granted.
I think we need to take better care of you so that we can both feel better.
How about we go out to dinner and just relax together for a bit tonight? We can talk about a few things I can do to make your life easier, and a few things I would love from you to make sure we feel connected during this stressful work time.”
Approach the problem as if you and your partner are on the same team, battling “the problem,” which is named as something outside of your partner (stress, work, depression, etc.).
De-personalizing the problem and refraining from character attacks will go a long way in helping you both get the love and respect you deserve.
Shelby Riley, M.S., LMFT – www.shelbyrileymft.com
It feels very hurtful when you feel taken for granted. Unfortunately, everyone has times when they are on autopilot, and forget to look around. Making people in their life feel taken for granted.
Communication, communication, communication!!! Very important.
If you feel this way, then the best option would be to talk to him and let him know how you feel. Working though the feeling together will make your relationship even stronger for it. If you cannot talk to them then that is a bigger question, then being taken for granted.
Generally, the talking can be difficult to begin because of the sense of vulnerability in opening up to him. Fear of what he might say. I tell people all the time that the relationship can only be as strong as the amount your willing to be vulnerable.
The depth and bond of the relationship is created by what you work through, not the good times.
The good times are the regular celebrations of an intimately happy relationship. Good times include curling up together to watch a movie, him bringing you a single rose, or calling or texting they miss you out of the blue or just taking a walk or the smile you see when you wake up in the morning. That feeling you get with that person that you do not get with anyone else in everyday activities or thoughts.
People don’t generally take someone for granted on purpose, it’s just life has them on autopilot.
So that talking is letting them know how you feel and them realizing it. Generally, that is all that it takes. They may not understand it, but the discussion is how they do or if nothing else understand you are needing something to not hurt. They care about you; they don’t want to hurt you.
If you have the discussion and he seem as though he doesn’t care you feel this way then other issues may be there.
Maybe they need you to step back and let it sink in what you are saying. Then they come around. Maybe they are the type to deny everything but following it with doing what you discussed. Maybe they are not there because they care but for what they can get from you. That is not a good situation.
There are many reasons they may not respond well, but that makes the conversation about why they are offended or upset toward your needs.
Not the needs themselves but why your needs make him feel however he is feeling. After that discussion you can talk about your feelings. Taking a pause between discussions is only a pause not an ending. Make sure to continue the discussion until you two come to an understanding.
When dealing with “talks” in a relationship, think about how you would feel.
- If you were hurting them would you want to continue doing whatever it is?
- If you were making them feel taken for granted, would you want to continue?
- If you were doing something that hurt them then would you want to just do it regardless?
No, you wouldn’t. You would want them to tell you even though it may be a difficult discussion because you want them to be happy. So remember, they probably feel the same way. Treat them as you would like to be treated. Looking at things this way makes decisions much easier and less dramatic!
So, think of all those celebrations you have felt today with him, and respect that feeling by talking to him.
Katherine Woodworth, LPC, CRC – www.fairwaycounseling.com
With a strong foundation of understanding, awareness and compromise, both you and your partner can strengthen your relationship and remain respectful and attentive throughout your lives together. But how do you do that when you feel he is taking you for granted?
Here are some suggestions:
1. Listen to the silent messages in your head and trust them.
If you’ve helped contribute to a pattern where your man does the minimum, and expects the maximum, it’s difficult to change the way he relates to you overnight. The important thing is to recognize that you deserve better – and start acting like it.
You know what you need to do. You just have to trust your heart and make honest decisions that support you.
2. Love is about expressing how you feel, not about suppressing your emotions.
Maybe, it’s time to let him know how you feel about how he’s treating you. If you can pinpoint the problem, discuss this without fighting. Arguing defeats the purpose and will override the outcome you want, which is to compromise on the details so you both feel heard and understood.
3. Don’t wait around for him.
Go out with girlfriends. Get involved with activities that don’t include him. Pursue your own interests. In other words, if he’s not putting in the effort to make you feel special, you need to make yourself feel special. Maybe at some point, he’ll catch on.
4. Have a deadline in your head as to how you want the relationship to flow.
If by the time expected, things haven’t changed, it may be in your best interest to bid him goodbye and move on. After all, life it too short to wait for someone to treat you like you matter.
5. Evaluate the pros and cons.
Is he a great guy with a few quirks that annoy you or is he nasty and abusive and disinterested most of the time? If you find that the cons are greater than the pros, it may be time to move on, because the situation could be unfixable.
You play an essential role in building the good foundation and strong objectivity of the relationship. Through it all, remember that you are significant and are deserving of a partner who adores and truly cares for you.
Amy Sherman, M.A., LMHC – www.yourbabyboomersnetwork.com
If a man doesn’t know how he feels about you, it is best not to try and control the situation, and therefore, its outcome.
When you’re involved with an individual who doesn’t know how he feels, there’s some factors that need to be seeded out.
It’s the matter of how long you’ve been seeing this individual, the quality of the relationship, and if you are willing to stick it out while he figures it out.
Your response, however, should fit the circumstances of your situation with this individual. Is he freshly out of another relationship and needs time, is he still dating others, are you two getting closer and possibly there’s some fear involved?
Whatever the situation, a determining factor in making a decision that is best for you is if you are comfortable with dating a person who cannot articulate how he feels about you. Are you ok with feeling uncomfortable as things between you and him unfold, are you willing to trust the process, or is this a cause for you to pause?
Remember you have a say in this matter.
Being reflective and realistic about the relationship will help you decide on whether to step back while he figures his feelings out or take the risk that the outcome may or may not be favorable for you. Either way, there can be a level of pain attached to possibly losing this person or choosing to stay in unchartered waters with him.
Tilisha Harrison, LCSW – www.linkedin.com/in/tilisha-harrison-lcsw-36329027
When you feel taken for granted, it usually indicates that you and your partner are more involved with your own interests and activities than with each other.
Every relationship has ebbs and flows of attention due to other needs from school, jobs, friends, children, social activities, and other commitments.
If you’re wanting more time and attention from your partner, the first thing to do is let him know.
How you let him know is important. Complaining, dropping hints, or sarcastic comments won’t really head you in the direction of more friendly contact. Start with positives instead of negatives. Tell him that you love your time together, and you’ve been missing that lately.
Congratulate him on his accomplishments if his focus has been on work or other obligations. Be supportive of his help for others. At the same time, also tell him directly that you really need his love and you’d like more time together.
Get more information.
If he’s been very involved with friends, video games, or activities that don’t include you, ask him what he likes so much about these interests. Listen calmly and with interest so you can learn what he’s really feeling and needing. If you feel jealous, left out, or ignored because of the time he spends on those activities, let him know, but keep your composure. A direct discussion, without emotional drama, usually works the best for getting to the heart of things.
Defining the relationship.
Having a discussion rather than an argument allows you to gather and share information about what you each want in the relationship. At the heart of feeling taken for granted is a fear that he doesn’t love you anymore. However, it could also be that he’s anxious, feeling too dependent on you, depressed, worried about work, or something is not going well in his own life.
And, yes, he could be fearful of commitment, no longer sure he wants to be in the relationship, bored, or even something totally unknown to you right now. Nevertheless, in the long run, it’s actually better to know than to keep guessing, worrying, and feeling anxious.
If you are too afraid of what he might be feeling, then it will be hard to find out what is really going on, because your reactions will either shut him down or trigger defensiveness in both of you.
So, listen, ask questions, and try not to freak out. The more information you have, the better able you will be to make decisions and take the actions that will best take care of you.
Too often I see women not telling the guy what they want in the relationship. They try to guess what he wants and go along with that. Later, they feel hurt, resentful, or taken advantage of when it doesn’t work out the way they want. When both people know what the other person really is looking for, then the relationship either ends or it really flourishes. Why waste time on trying to win him over to what you want if it’s obvious that that’s not what he wants.
On the other hand, when he knows what will make you happy and comfortable in the relationship, then a man who really loves you is going to want to do more of those things if he can. Relationships deepen when both parties are willing to take the risk of honesty.
Guys who don’t or won’t talk.
Lots of men don’t know how to talk about their feelings. They’re uncomfortable, don’t have a vocabulary of feeling words, or feel foolish. Your calmness and directness can be helpful in those situations. Some guys do have ulterior motives, for example, just wanting sex rather than an actual relationship. They may not be willing to admit to what they actually want. Pay attention to his body language. Notice the little things he does—or doesn’t do. Ask his mother, sister, and friends to tell you about him, so you get a fuller picture of his character, goals, and relationship history.
Use your best judgment.
If your feeling taken for granted because he works 60 hours a week but is loving, kind, and supportive when you are together, that’s very different than his ignoring you to play video games 7-8 hours a day, or giving you the cold shoulder, or being surly and hostile.
Ultimately, you are the one who gets to decide if what you are getting in this relationship is what you want—or willing to put up with.
Don’t just think of what he wants or needs–equally consider what is important and needed by you. It’s your choice to stay because you want to or let it go and find what you really yearn for.
Margalis Fjelstad, Ph.D., LMFT – www.margalistherapy.com
There is nothing quite like the honeymoon stage in a relationship, when everyone has their best foot forward, and is willing to try anything, do anything, and be whatever it is that we think our new partner wants and needs.
According to Margaret Mahler, this phase of a relationship replicates the early stage we have as newborns with our mothers, called symbiosis.
We want to be with our partners all the time, and live for the connection we feel with them. They become like a living God or Goddess for us, and all our needs seem to be met by this one perfect creature. This experience of falling in love truly can feel like heaven on earth- while it lasts.
Unfortunately, as with new mothers and infants, this attached at the hip way of living is not always sustainable.
And just as natural as our early childhood stage of development, comes a separation and individuation phase in our romantic relationships as well. This is when we start to become more independent, and realize that we need to maintain our lives and our freedom, go to work or school, see our other friends and family, have hobbies, and maintain our adult commitments.
We need to feel secure and be able to step away and come back to our partners, knowing all is well.
And often, within this more comfortable and sustainable way of life, people often begin to take each other for granted. The contrast can seem so harsh, and often feel so painful. We saw how hard our partners worked for us in the beginning, and the lengths they were willing to go, just to please us.
Seeing this same guy who brought us flowers, dressed to the nines, to impress us on dates, who would go to any lengths to act charming and gentlemanly, now refuses to get off the couch or out of their sweats on a Saturday night. They barely acknowledge us in the room when their football game is on, and always seem to be too tired to do anything we consider fun.
Or, they don’t return our texts for days on end, or make plans with their boys every weekend. This period and feeling of being taken for granted hurts, and makes most women filled with despair or rage.
Being taken for granted seems to happen all to often, and can quickly lead to the end of a relationship if not handles properly. Is there anything one can do to repair this feeling?
The answer is a resounding yes.
All is not lost just because someone is getting too comfortable. In fact, sometimes understanding the psychology behind why this happens can help to remove some of the resentment and anger that can actually make things worse.
First, men taking women for granted means that they feel safe and comfortable. Recognizing this is actually a good thing. Do we have to settle for being taken for granted and feeling unappreciated? Heck no!
There are 2 recommendations I make to clients who come in feeling this way.
First, and foremost, before resorting to any other tactics or playing games, try open, honest, communication. Let your partner know what your needs are in an honest authentic way.
Communicating this way must be done in a kind, gentle, loving way to work.
Speaking from an angry, attacking, nagging, or entitled way will probably not yield the results you want- which is to have your partner love you so deeply that they want to make you happy on their own.
When we speak in a hostile, threatening, shaming or blaming way, it will often have the opposite results.
So, first and foremost, be clear with yourself on what it is you want and need to feel better and more loved in this relationship. Know your partner and how they communicate as well.
Choose words, timing, and a tone of voice that will help you be heard and understood.
Talk about what they are doing that you appreciate and how certain things they have done in the past made you feel so good. Keep your expectations realistic. Meaning, if your partner is living paycheck to paycheck, maybe now is not the time to demand an expensive gift or trip.
Maybe having them help out around the house or make you dinner can make a huge difference in feeling appreciated. Maybe simple things like picking up your favorite coffee, or writing you a thank you card would make you feel like you are special and that they cherish you.
Try to state what your needs are positively as much as possible with “I” statements as much as possible.
For example, “I feel so great when you do x, y, and z.” Not, “You never do anything to me anymore. “Communicating is the first and most important step.
2. If no positive results are yielded from communicating after several weeks, the next step is to take some time and space to reevaluate what your needs are and if this person is able to fulfill them.
This is very different than playing games. Playing games is never a good idea and usually backfires. This approach truly is about honoring yourself.
Giving a little space and perhaps making plans with girlfriends, or doing something healthy and positive for yourself can help you gain clarity on your own worth, as well as your wants and needs, aside from this relationship.
In this situation, when you are not married, or have children involved, you really do have a million options out there and need to make sure you are making the right choice moving forward in a relationship where you don’t feel honored or appreciated.
Either your partner will notice, miss you, and try their best to win you back, or they will realize they are happier with more space.
Either way, this is about you. You don’t need to settle. You just need to commit to what you want and deserve. Be willing to walk away if this is not it.
Remember, this is your life.
This is one of the most important decisions you will ever make. The second you settle for something that you know won’t make you happy and is less than what you deserve, you are setting yourself up for a lifetime of unhappiness.
Set the groundwork from the beginning for the treatment you want and demand in life.
Either this partner will recognize the amazing gift that you are in their lives, and try anything to make you feel special, or there are a million other fish in the sea. Maintain your own self respect and dignity, and the world will follow suit.
Alisa Ruby Bash, PsyD, LMFT – www.alisarubybash.com
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