When you feel as though your partner isn't giving you the attention you deserve, it can be incredibly frustrating, confusing, and hurtful. It can certainly take a negative toll on your relationship (and your self-esteem) if you constantly have to repeat yourself, you can’t help but feel your S.O. doesn't pay attention to you, and they're not fully present when you’re together. Coming to the realization that a partner is no longer emotionally invested in your commitment isn't an easy pill to swallow, and it's definitely not something to ignore.
The truth is that there are a number of reasons that could cause your partner to check out emotionally. So, whether you've only just noticed your partner giving you the proverbial cold shoulder or have undergone the iciness for weeks/months/years, now is the time to take a closer look at your relationship to establish the reason for the discontent and determine if the partnership is worth mending.
If your partner doesn't pay attention to you, it could come down to one of the six signs below.
Loss of Interest
One particularly painful reason that a partner has checked out could be that they've lost interest in the relationship and don't wish to pursue it any longer. “It could be that your partner is losing interest and doesn’t know how to communicate that with you," says marriage and family therapist Lynsie Seely.
Rather than jumping to conclusions, have a conversation with your partner and ask them what's been on their mind and the reasons for their apparent loss of interest.
When your partner no longer cares about what you say, doesn't value your presence, and doesn't seem to be invested in what’s going on in your life, it’s can feel as though they're taking steps toward living a life without you. If you aren't getting the attention you need and deserve, it may be time to move on.
It could be, very simply, that your S.O. is dealing with the pressure of having other things on their mind, such as an achingly difficult work project or personal and/or familial issues that sap them of the energy to deal with little else. When a partner is heavily distracted by other commitments, tasks, stress, and anxiety, they may find it too challenging to redirect their attention—and they may even be so wrapped up that your needs don't even register. A little reminder that you're an equal part of the relationship and have needs, too, could help redirect their focus.
Not Being "Heard"
Could you be the one who's not listening? If, say, you’re a non-stop talker, you frequently talk over your partner, tend to interrupt, and just aren't a good listener, they'll stop sharing their innermost thoughts and feelings because they don't feel "heard." If your S.O. feels as though what they say doesn't matter (and they've stopped talking altogether), then look within. Carve out time for conversation, get in tune with their needs, stop avoiding difficult chats, empathize with what they say, and listen to how they say it.
Unwillingness To Prioritize
Overuse of the phone, computer, social media, and video games—along with an unwillingness to unplug even after being asked—is a big departure from the early "getting to know you" phase of your relationship when all conversations seemed interesting and all concentration was focused on your time together. It's also could be a sign your partner is unwilling to prioritize your relationship, communication has eroded, or you're no longer top-of-mind.
"Life happens and things often get in the way of plans you and your partner may have made," says dating expert and counselor Davida Rappaport. When this happens occasionally, it's normal, but consider it a red flag if it's happening constantly.
Lack of Reciprocation
Perhaps you're the one who’s losing interest: If you're constantly distracted, always on the phone, and aren't invested in your S.O.'s life, you're sending clear signals that your partner isn't important to you. And you’ll likely receive the same treatment. In order for your partner to communicate, share ideas, and feel close to you, you must reciprocate their attention; a healthy relationship isn't a one-way street.
If every word out of your mouth is an insult, a critique, or disparaging remark, your behavior is toxic and negative, and no one, least of all your S.O., wants to hear it. Even seemingly harmless criticism and patronizing comments, too, can take a toll. While you should always feel free to express yourself and say what’s on your mind, take a good look at the way you're communicating. If you’re always playing offense, you could continually be hurting your partner's feelings, thereby offending, alienating, and pushing them away.