“A busy, vibrant, goal-oriented woman is so much more attractive than a woman who waits around for a man to validate her existence.”
~ Mandy Hale
An emotionally irresponsible person is an individual who;
- lacks conscientiousness for a partner,
- is unable to consider an alternate perspective in the context of an interpersonal relationship and is frequently insensitive to those whom he or she is closest to.
This person feels entitled to do what he wants without concern for how these actions and words impact the person who ought to be the most important.
Yet, he is not shy about demanding a partner’s attention and may throw a fit when she is not at his immediate disposal. Asking her to do things for him and expecting to be the center of her world is a standard expectation.
These egocentric tendencies are often glaringly apparent in an interpersonal relationship but frequently camouflaged in public life.
An intelligent person realizes having manners and appearing to care about others generates a favorable reputation.
Yet behind closed doors, when there are no “real” consequences, this person often exhibits a lack of empathy for a partner and an avoidance of uncomfortable emotions. Yet, it is the unpleasant emotions that allow a person to self-reflect, admit fault, feel remorse, and operate with a conscience.
In addition, the discrepancy between the person’s public persona and the quality of his interpersonal relationship may be vast. This disparity frequently causes a partner to question her sanity.
“Everyone thinks he is such a great guy, but nobody sees how he treats me.”
Unfortunately, emotional irresponsibility is easy to disguise in an interpersonal relationship because it is one person’s word against another’s.
Utilizing deflection, minimizing and justifications, an emotionally irresponsible person quickly dismisses a loved one’s feelings and exonerates himself or herself. He easily evades the discomfort of emotional responsibility.
Unfortunately, this type of emotional makeup is static.
Expecting a substantial change in a person’s character may not be possible if he is unable to self-reflect and be authentically accountable. Without self-awareness and insight, permanent change may be impossible. It may be more advantageous to invest in a person who is emotionally responsible.
The signs of an emotionally responsible person include:
- An ability to see a loved one’s perspective, even if it differs from his or her own.
- The capacity to self reflect and own his or her part in a conflict
- Experience sincere remorse after making a mistake
- Is emotionally attuned and conscientious of others
- Is able to be vulnerable and identify and discuss difficult feelings
- Sincerely apologizes for a mistake
Emotionally sophisticated people can resolve conflict because they can entertain a different perspective, self-reflect, and own their part in a conflict.
In addition, because they have empathy, they are usually conscientious of others. Following a selfish act or a mistake, they usually feel remorse, apologize, and attempt to repair the rupture in the relationship.
For example, say Ben is frustrated with Liz because she wants to talk about a conflict with her friend. Ben tells Liz her friend is a liar and she needs to stop listening to her. Liz starts to cry and defends her friend.
Ben pauses because he experiences empathy for Liz who is hurting. He self reflects and realizes he may have been too strong. He softens his tone and apologizes, “I am sorry Liz. I know you are hurting. I do not think what I said helped. I respect your process and I am here for you.”
Alternatively, an emotionally irresponsible party only contemplates how he feels and is incapable of entertaining a differing viewpoint.
Resolving conflict becomes almost impossible because of the person’s belief that he is always right.
For example, after Ben tells Liz her friend is a liar and she needs to stop listening to her, Liz breaks down. Ben, only able to consider his feelings and viewpoint, continues to reprimand Liz. “Why can’t you see this? Are you blind? She does not care about you. What is wrong with you? You are one of those co dependent types. I cannot listen to you anymore. Good luck.”
Obviously, Liz is doubly hurt and upset, and Ben lacks empathy and walks away without any remorse for the way he spoke to Liz. Liz refrains from talking to Ben anymore about her issues.
An emotionally responsible human being is a person who can maintain healthy and close relationships with others who share the same emotional abilities.
Resolving conflict, conscientiousness for others, and admitting fault in a relationship are essential capabilities which allow a person to care for and understand those around him or her.
This is not to say that an emotionally intelligent person won’t have a selfish moment or make a mistake, but it does mean he or she is capable of owning a selfish act while attempting to repair the hurt it inflicted. Remedying relational missteps maintains closeness, joy, and trust.
Erin Leonard, PhD, LCSW, LLC – www.drerinleonard.com
You’ve found yourself in an odd situation. The guy you are spending time with enjoys receiving your attention, but does not actually want you. You are filling a need he has, but he isn’t filling your need to be wanted and desired. So what do you do?
Address this issue with him.
It is possible he thinks this is a way to show you he is interested and does not realize you want more. It is also possible this is the type of relationship he wants and it is okay if you do not want the same.
Have a conversation about how you are feeling, what you want or need and give him the chance to listen, respond and be aware of how you are feeling and what you want/need.
Help him understand how you are feeling by being direct and open with him.
Then do the same for him. Listen actively and reflect back what you hear him saying and work to understand each other and what your individual needs and wants are.
If he is not interested in more than just your attention, take the steps you need to separate, move on, or end the relationship.
Your needs are important and feeling desired and wanted in a relationship is a primary need.
Sticking it out hoping he may change could lead to even more disappointment and frustration on your end. We sometimes think we can make another person change, but the reality is they have to decide for themselves.
If you are in the mindset that you can change his mind about wanting more than just your attention, I want you to remind yourself that you can only control yourself and change yourself.
You cannot control someone else or make them change.
Rachel Elder, LMHC, MHP – www.rachel-elder.com
When you start to suspect that a guy is not truly interested in who you are, you have the option to either end things right away in an effort to find a guy who may express more genuine interest or you may decide to hang in there and see if he comes around.
If you do decide to give him a chance and wait, it is important to name what you’re seeing.
This does not need to be done in a critical manner. Instead, as objectively as you can, name what has happened that’s added up to you being concerned about if he’s really interested in you.
This could mean saying something like,
“I’ve noticed you seem to have a hard time remembering the things that I’ve shared with you” or “It seems like you give me lots of compliments on my looks, but not any other qualities about me.”
You can then follow that up by saying how you’ve felt in these moments (i.e. “It makes me feel worried that you’re not really listening when I’m sharing things with you” or “I appreciate the compliments, but sometimes I wish that you would compliment other things about me, too”).
It’s important to be direct and to the point about what you’re specifically concerned about that’s led you to think he’s not actually interested in who you are.
Then see how he responds. If he can give an explanation, validate your feelings, and/or apologize? You could be headed in the right direction.
If he minimizes your feelings or becomes defensive, this could be a concern that he’s not aware enough to see that you’re asking for more from him and he may be unable to give it.
Michelle Henderson, MA, LMHC – www.nextchapter-counseling.com
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