19 Oct Living in a Dead Relationship?
Partner Blame and Self-Blame
Have you been blaming your partner for not meeting your emotional needs? Or have you been worrying that you’re not doing enough to keep your other half interested in you? These are two standard responses – blame and self-blame – that people in an unfulfilling relationship fall back on. Such romantic traumas are reflected back at us in films and soap operas but on screen the issues are resolved over a much shorter timeframe than in real life where couples can remain stuck for many years – decades even – before something changes.
Rather than burying your heads in the sand and hoping for change, there are positive steps you can both take to get your needs back on the agenda:
- Start Fulfilling your Own Needs
We can unwittingly sabotage our own satisfaction by letting our insecurities distort the emotional signals we receive from our partners. Failing to maintain healthy boundaries and letting others take advantage of us will also make us feel resentful. As an antidote, work on being kind to yourself, looking after your body and saying ‘no’ every now and then. By improving your own physical and mental health you will start feeling naturally more giving to others.
- “Be There” for your Partner
When we feel our own needs are not being fulfilled by our partner it is natural to become less giving ourselves. However, this can lead into a negative spiral as you both withdraw from the fulness of your previous life together. Once you begin to feel better about yourself, focus on giving your partner the attention they need. Simply by actively listening to what they have to say (without glancing at your phone) and agreeing to join them in activities they love (but you are less keen on) will signal you are thinking about their needs and hopefully put them in the same caring frame of mind.
- Open up Communication Lines
By this stage it should become clear whether your partner is willing and able to fulfill your needs, but if there is still no improvement then you may need to be more upfront. It could be that your partner grew up in a household where warmth, affection and generosity was in short supply and they are finding it difficult to demonstrate their feelings, or it could be that there is something else troubling them (health, debt, bereavement, etc). Lack of attention from a romantic partner has been found to be the most common reason for infidelity, so it is better to talk openly about your feelings even if conversation is uncomfortable.
- Reassess the Situation
Have you followed the steps above and been met with indifference or even anger? If you are making no headway on your own then you may find that a suitably qualified therapist can help shift things forwards. It may be that your relationship has run its course or there may be something left to salvage. Couples counselling need only involve one party at the beginning, so don’t feel you need to wait until you’ve plucked up the courage to talk to your partner before seeking help.