Do You Feel Invisible To Your Partner?By Dr. Margaret Paul
April 05, 2021
Do your conversations with your partner feel like a one-way street?
Many of us have the experience of feeling unseen and unheard by our partner.
For example, Kristy asks:
"My partner is a good sharer and easily talks about his feelings, his day, his dreams, his struggles, etc. Unfortunately he is not a good listener. When I talk, he seems to look away and it feels like he is not really hearing me. And after our conversation, he doesn't remember things I've said accurately. I'm seeking connection, but feel pretty invisible. Any thoughts on how to take care of me in this situation?"
There are two separate aspects to this that I want to address.
The first thing Kristy needs to explore is how often she is invisible to herself. How often does she hear and attend to her own feelings? How often does she connect with her guidance and take loving action for herself? If she isn’t doing these things, then the energy she is projecting out might be being reflected back to her in her relationship.
When her partner looks away and appears not to hear her, does she say anything? Does she open to learning about why he isn't interested in what she is saying? From her questions above, it sounds like in the conversation with him, she is not attending to herself, and so she might be making herself invisible.
The other issue concerns possible reasons why he isn't listening:
He could be narcissistic and only interested in himself. If this is the case, the only way this can change is if Kristy is much more proactive in stating what is happening in the moment. However, there is always the possibility that he won't change.
He could be feeling pulled on by her to connect with her. There is nothing wrong with wanting connection with her partner, but if Kristy isn’t connected with herself, she may be making him responsible for filling her up and he may be resistant to this.
- The third reason is what I stated earlier – he may be reflecting her own invisibility to herself. Self-abandonment leads to feeling invisible, both within oneself and within a relationship.
For Kristy, taking care of herself in this situation means, first of all, learning to stay present with her own feelings and with her guidance, and taking loving actions on her own behalf so that her inner child feels seen and heard by her. This includes speaking up with her partner with an intention to learn when she experiences him not listening to her.
Taking care of herself may result in her partner being more attentive.
If she concludes that he is self-centered and just not interested in listening to her, then she might want to seek out help for their relationship. If he is unavailable to working on the relationship with her, and if feeling invisible to him feels unacceptable, then she may need to reckon with whether he is the right partner for her – not an easy decision.
Since she cannot make him change, she would either decide that she can fully accept him exactly as he is, or she would decide to move on.
Sometimes, a partner accepts listening without being listened to and finds other ways of connecting. Sometimes a partner finds friends who listen, which can somewhat make up for not being listened to in the relationship. Sometimes, learning to listen to yourself and your guidance can be so fulfilling that it becomes okay to not be listened to.
There is no right or wrong option – it just depends on you and on what you want.
Heal your relationship with Dr. Margaret’s 30-Day online video relationship course: Wildly, Deeply, Joyously in Love.
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Pain and joy are in the same place in the heart. You cannot put a lid on pain without putting a lid on your joy as well. Are you opting for the flatness of the illusion of safety, or are you willing to experience both the lows and the highs of life? Today, cry and laugh with your whole heart.
By Dr. Margaret Paul