“It is necessary, and even vital, to set standards for your life and the people you allow in it.”
~ Mandy Hale
It can be difficult to tell the difference between what is our responsibility and what is someone else’s; especially within intimate relationships.
Many times, this misidentification of responsibility brings on self-blame or the stirring up of an inner belief that we must have done something to deserve mistreatment such as being ignored.
In addition, we can also create stories to reconcile what we believe to be true. So, let’s challenge a couple of old beliefs and maybe find a new perspective.
The Old Story
Why is he not replying to my text messages? Why is he not answering my phone calls?
One of our first inclinations is to self-reflect:
Have I done something wrong? Did I say something? Is he mad at me?
Then, without fail, we spend an exuberant amount of time trying to figure out how to fix “it”, when we aren’t even sure what “it” is.
Sometimes ladies, we just have to accept, “it’s not all about me”.
That’s right, it’s not us, “it” is most likely his own issues. Yet, also most likely, out of fear of losing the relationship or even a misguided perception of our value, or lack thereof, we convince ourselves we must have done something wrong. But what if?…
What if we decided to believe something less about the other person and something more about ourselves.
What if we decided to believe that the other person may have their own issues that they need to deal with and their lack of participation does not define us.
What if we decided that the stories we make up when our emotions get involved are just stories until they can be confirmed or denied by the other party.
What if, ultimately, we choose to believe beyond a doubt that we have value that exceeds beyond our relationships and that others do not define our worth.
Kristy Palacios, MA, LPC – www.buildinganalliance.com
Communicate, Communicate, communicate; if most couples did this one thing they would not be in my office.
Men, and most people for that matter, do not understand subtle hints. My guess is that attention equals your love language and helping him to understand your love language is important in maintaining your relationship (Chapman, 2013).
Be clear and direct about what you need from him to feel valued.
Give him examples of what he can do to communicate this to you, like sending you a text message or checking in with you about your day.
Use this conversation as an opportunity to find out what is his love language.
This will not only give you valuable information to know ways to show that you love him, but it will also help him with understanding and empathizing with the concept since he will be immediately applying the concept to his own internal schemata of communicating love.
“But what if he doesn’t change his behavior?”
Well, consistent behavior change takes time. In fact it takes about 90 days to change any habit even when people are actively working on it (Duhigg, 2012). The key question, “Did he make an attempt?”
If he did even if it was not what you wanted you can work with that and continue to work together to get both your needs met.
If he does not make an attempt, then he is letting you know that you are not the priority and whatever has his focus is the priority (whether it is work or other people).
You have to then decide if that is actually OK with you or not. No one can make that decision for you. You have the power to walk or to stay accepting that this is where his priorities are and will likely stay.
Kimberly Rogers, LCSW – www.compassionatecorecounseling.com
When women complain to me that their significant others are ignoring them, I encourage them to redirect their focus to themselves.
I advise them to identify ways in which they can engage in self-care (e.g., exercise, try a new activity, join a special interest group, pursue a professional goal, etc.). If they’ve never dined out or attended a movie alone, I encourage them to do so.
This guidance is rooted in the ideology that the healthiest and most enduring personal relationships are based on sacrifice and giving of oneself for the betterment of the object of his or her affection. In order to have something substantial to offer your partner and the relationship, you must first be adept at loving yourself.
Loving yourself doesn’t mean that you are constantly affirming your self-worth by generating a list of all that you deserve from others and then demanding that they deliver, but rather identifying what you owe to yourself and investing the time and energy into fulfilling your own needs and desires.
When you are capable of finding joy within yourself, you are not emotionally dependent on the words and actions of others to feel satisfied or validated.
In fact, it is quite the opposite. When your metaphorical cup of self-love runneth over, you are more likely to be in a better position to give love, attention, time, consideration, and even space and distance to others when they desire it.
Similarly, loving yourself should not preclude you from receiving love from others.
It is not the same as being jaded or avoiding emotional involvement from others. In fact, by actively showering yourself with adoration, you demonstrate for others an example of how you desire and deserve to be loved. When you are comfortable enough in your own skin to enjoy pursuing various pastimes alone as much as you enjoy the same or other activities with your significant other, you naturally exude a magnetic air that draws others near.
So the next time you feel neglected by your mate, embrace the time apart as an opportunity to shine as a source and force of love in your own right.
Buy yourself some flowers, work out at the gym or start that online business you’ve been contemplating. Not only will he recognize you for the phenomenal woman that you are, but you will gain a sense of self-assurance that will allow you to contribute to your relationship and fortify your bond in ways you never imagined possible!
Lauren K Mason, PhD – www.mymindspa.net
Being ignored can conjure a multitude of feelings, such as rejection and doubt.
Avoiding is similar to ignoring and can be misinterpreted by the person experiencing these behaviors from their mate. In either situation, the most beneficial way to approach these behaviors is to name it.
Being able to name the issue by putting it on the table to be discussed and worked through can promote good communication and productive problem solving skills.
It also allows each person to be heard and feelings validated if done with good intentionality and thoughtfulness.
If your mate is ignoring you to the point of not returning calls, texts, and avoiding seeing you, an option in approach is possibly sending him/her a text or leaving a voicemail, acknowledging that you recognize clearly there is an issue that needs to be resolved through communication.
Validate that he/she may not be ready to broach the topic; however, at some point soon a discussion needs to be facilitated.
This allows your mate to understand you are open to resolving whatever may be the problem, and holding him/her accountable to effective and relational communication that is timely, so that resentment and festering feelings won’t manifest.
Also, if you are unclear that you’re the reason for the ignoring behavior, being cautious of making assumptions can help alleviate anxiety and reduce further conflict when you do not have all the facts.
However, if your mate is unwilling, for whatever reason, to process the issue, you have no control over that.
You may need to find resolve in not gaining closure into the situation and move on from the relationship. Ideally, given time and space your mate will be able to name what the issue is and talk it out with you, especially with the boundaries and expectations you have set.
Tilisha Harrison, LCSW – www.pivotcollaborative.com
Before thinking about how to get more attention, maybe ask yourself what else has changed.
When we transition from one phase of a relationship to another often the attention there will change somewhat.
When we transition from the infatuation stage to the stable stage and we are no longer worried about making this amazing person like us we settle into stability. At this point attention naturally changes into routine.
If this is where you are, maybe it’s a natural shift and the challenge is now to keep the excitement of the relationship.
There are other reasons our attention shifts in a relationship and this is why we ask, what else has changed.
Have you changed? Think about your schedule, has that changed?
Perhaps you changed the way you express your feelings, perhaps you are more tired or overwhelmed with outside obligations and are not as available.
- What has changed for your partner?
- Has the change in season brought old interests to the forefront, such as the baseball playoffs or football beginning again?
- Have new friends appeared?
- Have some obligations for your partner take their attention away?
Before we can provide exact recommendations, we need to understand the other parts of the relationship. Was the attention never really there and now we’re just noticing it?
The answer to getting more attention in a relationship lies within the relationship itself and understanding the needs and wants of your partner.
When we feel seen and heard we feel whole and loved and naturally want to be around those that see us and hear us.
- Do you see and hear your partner?
- Do they see and hear you?
- What is your opinion on why you do not get the attention you feel you deserve?
- Is your desire for attention based in fear?
- Fear that you are not loved, seen or heard?
I find in life that what we put into our relationships is what we get back.
If desire for attention from someone is based in fear, then the work is in self-love and acceptance.
In this type of situation, fear translates into neediness and causes others to withdraw attention and affection. But in some cases, not being needy enough will also cause affection to go elsewhere. People want to feel wanted in a relationship and making sure our partners know we want them around is important. Between the two is balance.
Relationships of any kind require reciprocity; equal parts give and take with honesty and understanding.
Ask your partner what is going on and how to make the relationship stronger. Be honest with one another about what you both need and want from the relationship and really listen.
Use mirroring and reflective listening to make sure you both really understand one another.
And, most of all, understand that relationships go through cycles. Be aware of the natural shifts. Love yourself first and love will naturally flow.
Heather Champion, MA, LMHC, RYT, TSY – www.maitri-therapy.com
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