If you’re not familiar with the term, emotional blindspots are behaviors, habits, and reactions that you may not know you’re exhibiting, but are harmful to your relationship.
They’re usually small things that are easily overlooked but over time, can wear down the connection between you and your partner.
If you’ve noticed tension or resentment in your relationship, some of the issues below might be the underlying causes…
So, here are 9 emotional blindspots most people overlook in relationships:
1) Assuming intentions
You know your partner better than anyone else, right?
That’s probably true, especially if you’ve been together a long time.
But knowing them very well doesn’t mean you necessarily always know what they’re thinking, or their intentions behind certain actions.
When we make this mistake, misunderstandings and conflict happen.
I’ve been through this myself, and I see now just how frustrating it was for my partner to have me constantly assume I knew what his intentions were.
As he explained it, it felt like I was robbing him of his autonomy. Ultimately, your partner isn’t a child, they’re a grown individual.
So rather than jump to conclusions, always ask. If you’re unsure of something, check in with them. This doesn’t make you needy – it makes you a good communicator.
2) Avoidance of vulnerability
If you’ve been stung in past relationships, you might hold back from being too vulnerable with your current partner.
That’s understandable – you want to protect yourself.
The issue is, we need vulnerability in relationships. It’s the only way they strengthen and deepen.
So if you constantly build walls and avoid talking to your partner about things that affect you deeply, you’re essentially keeping a barrier up between you both.
This is one emotional blindspot that can lead to your partner feeling like they can never get through to you.
Eventually, they’ll stop trying, and we all know what that means for the longevity of the relationship…
3) Fear of conflict
I hate conflict as much as the next person, and it’s something I tried to avoid in past relationships.
My current partner has no fear of it. He’ll address issues head-on, which was pretty uncomfortable for me at the start.
But after five years together, I have to say, our relationship is way more secure than my past relationships.
Because we talk about our problems.
When one person is unhappy with something, we feel comfortable enough to get it out into the open without fear of the other person giving the cold shoulder or overreacting.
So while it might seem like brushing issues under the rug keeps the peace, it’s just an illusion.
Those issues don’t go away, they just accumulate until they’re too big to deal with.
4) Holding onto past hurts
We can all pull up things our partners have done in the past to hurt us.
And in moments of anger, it’s easy to mention that time three years ago when your partner hurt your feelings on a Tuesday afternoon.
But in doing this, you stop your relationship from moving forward.
It’s really important to learn how to draw a line under past arguments. Learn from them, but don’t hold onto them.
I know this is easier said than done. I still struggle with it today.
A piece of advice my mom once gave me is:
“If it was too hurtful to get over, you would have broken up. But you didn’t. You want to keep trying, so you need to learn to forgive.”
5) Over-dependence or excessive independence
I’ll be honest, I really hate the two extremes of this spectrum.
On one hand, people feel like they need to make their partner their “everything”. Their best friend, their gym buddy, their travel partner, their therapist.
This is too much for one person to handle alone! And the more you rely on your partner (unnecessarily) the more codependent you become.
On the other hand, if you feel like you don’t need your partner for anything, why be in a relationship? A partnership is about supporting each other, isn’t it?
So the tricky thing with this emotional blindspot is finding a healthy balance.
Maintain your individuality, hobbies, and friendship circles, but don’t be afraid to lean on your partner from time to time either.
6) Communication breakdowns
Oof, this is a very difficult one. Something my partner and I are working on. We realized we weren’t doing a good job of listening to each other.
And this is typical of many couples.
You see, communication isn’t just about speaking. It’s about hearing the other person and truly understanding the message they’re trying to get across.
A few things we’ve been practicing are:
- Finding appropriate times to talk (i.e, not five minutes before rushing out of the door to a big family gathering)
- Not interrupting each other
- Asking lots of questions to clarify so we ensure we understand each other
- Communicating calmly and when one person feels they can’t control their emotions, taking a break and resuming at a later time
To be honest, this is going to look different for each couple, but the important thing is that you and your partner are committed to improving your communication styles.
7) Ignoring non-verbal cues
Continuing with communication, another emotional blindspot that most people overlook in relationships is non-verbal cues.
This is stuff like the tone of your partner’s voice, their facial expressions, and body language.
Pay attention to it, because if you don’t, misunderstandings quickly arise.
Let’s say, for example, your partner comes home and when you ask how their day was, they say, “Yeah, it was great.”
But their facial expressions and hunched shoulders say something completely different.
It’s at this point, if you’re aware of their non-verbal cues, that you can then ask more questions or simply offer them a big hug.
This will make them feel seen, understood, and comforted, as opposed to feeling like you don’t really care that they’ve had a bad day.
8) Unrealistic expectations
Having expectations is pretty normal, we all have them.
You might expect your partner to uphold their word when they make a promise, and that’s fair enough.
But if you expect your partner to be perfect all the time, never have a bad day, and be an excellent cook after working 15-hour long days, you’re asking for too much.
It’s important to take a step back and think about the expectations you’re putting on each other. Ask yourselves:
- Are they realistically achievable?
- Are they healthy expectations or do they come from a place of selfishness?
- Are you both communicating these expectations openly and clearly?
I’ve often found that trouble starts when one person has high expectations, doesn’t communicate them, and then constantly feels disappointed by their partner.
On the flip side, the partner tries their best to live up to these expectations and inevitably falls short, leaving them feeling frustrated and unvalued.
9) Neglecting self-care
Just this week, I had a conversation with my partner about self-care. I can see he’s on the road to burnout, working non-stop, not exercising or relaxing, and becoming more tense by the day.
What I didn’t mention to him (because we’ve already discussed it in the past and he’s aware of it) is that when he suffers from burnout, it affects both of us.
That’s why self-care is so important in a relationship.
You can’t show up and be there for each other if you’re constantly exhausted and stressed out.
So don’t make the mistake of doing everything for your relationship but nothing for yourself. By looking after yourself, you’ll naturally have the mental clarity and energy to be a great partner to your loved one.
These emotional blindspots are tough to recognize, but hopefully this article will give you some food for thought. None of us are perfect and the relationships are tricky.
But the more we’re aware of our behavior and how it affects others, the more we can improve and treat ourselves and our partners with respect and kindness.