16 signs you lack an emotional connection with your partner but you’re afraid to admit it

None of us like to find out that something we’ve invested in is no longer doing well. 

Pulling the plug is hard and deeply disappointing in any area of life. 

That’s particularly true of relationships, where our time and energy have contributed to a connection that’s meaningful to us. 

Even if the outer shell seems OK and you still find your partner sexy, there can be the upsetting possibility that you just don’t have that strong of an emotional connection. 

This can be very hard to admit. 

But here are the honest signs that your emotional link with your partner isn’t very strong. 

1) Shallow conversations

Your conversations aren’t very meaningful or engaging. 

You generally feel like your partner’s comments and interactions are quite surface-level. 

Even though you’re fond of them or find them physically attractive, you don’t really find talking to them very interesting or stimulating at all. 

In fact, most of your interactions are limited to surface-level discussions, lacking depth or emotional intimacy.

Speaking of shallow conversations…

2) Avoiding opening up to each other

There’s hesitancy to share your true thoughts and feelings, avoiding vulnerability.

You feel like if you open up about how you feel you’ll just be taking an unnecessary risk of conflict or misunderstanding. 

You’d rather just keep your private thoughts and feelings mostly to yourself. 

Your partner seems to feel exactly the same. 

Neither of you open up much to each other, especially when things are tough or you’re going through a difficult or confusing experiences. 

3) Emotionally distant vibes

You feel emotionally distant or detached, even when physically close to your partner.

Any strong emotional passion and link you felt seems to have faded. 

You worry that if you admit it to yourself then you’re admitting that the relationship is over, so you keep hiding from the painful reality. 

As Sylvia Smith writes:

“Emotional distance in a relationship can lead to the couple feeling as if they’ve lost the passion that they once felt for each other. 

It is this emotional drifting that makes the two feel as if they don’t really have much to say to each other other than the day-to-day updates regarding their general activities.”

4) You don’t do much together

There’s not all that much you actually like doing with your partner. 

Even activities like cooking, going to musical performances, visiting with mutual friends or trying out new hobbies together seem to hold no spark for you. 

You engage in few shared activities or interests, leading to a sense of disconnection.

You don’t do much together, and it’s because spending time with your partner isn’t as special to you as you know it should be. 

5) Lack of emotional labor

Your partner doesn’t provide emotional support during challenging times, or you feel hesitant to seek it.

You also don’t feel all that comfortable offering emotional support and doing emotional labor. 

It feels forced, or like you’re just doing it because you “should.”

You know that a relationship should be about mutual care and voluntary emotional labor, but you’re just not feeling it. And facing that would mean you’re not really feeling the relationship as a whole. 

So you hide from it. 

6) Your emotional needs remain unmet and unsatisfied

Your emotional needs are consistently unmet, leading to frustration and dissatisfaction.

When you feel a need for more space, you don’t now how to communicate that to your partner, or doubt they will listen. 

When you feel the need for more closeness and intimacy it’s the same dilemma. 

Plus, even when you or your partner tries your best there is just some core emotional closeness that’s missing. 

7) Feeling alone even when you’re together

Despite being in a relationship, you might feel lonely or isolated emotionally.

Lying awake at night you wonder what’s going wrong. 

Is it you? Or are you just with the wrong person?

The thoughts and emotions race through you, but you usually find a way to cut them short so you won’t have to face the worst-case scenario that you and your partner just don’t have a very strong emotional bond. 

As Vivian Ireton, LCSW puts it:

“Some common signs of feeling alone in a relationship include: feeling distanced from your partner, feeling like your partner doesn’t care about you, and avoiding time with your partner or feeling like they’re avoiding spending time with you.” 

8) You’re emotionally exhausted 

Being in the relationship feels emotionally draining rather than fulfilling.

Even when you have plenty of physical energy, you feel emotionally drained. 

The feeling becomes even more acute around your partner. Interacting with them feels extra tiring or taxing and you’re not quite sure why.

9) Fear of confrontation and conflict 

You avoid discussing the state of your emotional connection due to fear of confrontation or potential relationship changes.

The initial excitement and passion in the relationship have diminished over time, and now you’re just trying to stick with the bare minimum.

You know deep down it’s time to get out, but you don’t want to face single life again – especially in today’s dating market. 

“Existing research has suggested that people may find it hard to let go of partners who make them unhappy because they are afraid of being single,” observes Maria Cohut, Ph.D.

10) Frequent miscommunication and fights

Miscommunications are common, and you struggle to understand each other’s emotions and perspectives.

Even when you can objectively see that your partner has strong feelings which are justified, you can’t relate. And they seem unable to connect with your strong feelings, too. 

You’re on different pages. In fact, it increasingly feels like you’re reading entirely different books.

11) Ongoing arguing and unresolved issues

Arguments are more common than constructive conversations, and they often don’t lead to resolution.

You find your partner unreasonable and they annoy you in ways that are hard to put your finger on. 

You start to wonder if starting to date them at all was a big mistake, because the issues between you feel less and less temporary. In fact, it feels like the two of you just don’t get each other very well. 

12) Decreased interest in intimacy and sex

A significant decrease in physical affection or intimacy can indicate an emotional disconnect.

You’re both not enjoying sex and intimacy that much anymore because you’re not feeling very emotionally close. 

It can be hard to put your finger on, but something in the reality of the relationship is just “off.”

As a result, being physically close can also feel “off.” 

13) Difficulty trusting your partner

There is a lack of trust, making it challenging to open up emotionally to your partner.

You don’t particularly trust them, because you don’t particularly understand or emotionally relate to them. 

You’re not sure what’s truly motivating them, or where they really are in the relationship in terms of their feelings and love for you. 

There’s an ongoing sense of low-level mistrust between both of you, and you’re not sure how to bridge it. So you tend to downplay it and tell yourself not to worry. 

14) Your lives are increasingly separate

You lead separate lives with minimal involvement in each other’s daily activities or long-term goals.

You have your own plans for the future and your own goals. 

You don’t particularly discuss plans with each other or find much interest in cheering on each other’s ideas and ambitions. 

You’re more focused and clarified during the times when it’s just you and your goal. 

15) There are strong doubts about the relationship’s future

You experience frequent negative thoughts about the relationship and doubts about its future

Put simply: where is this all heading?

Because when you’re around your partner the best you feel is physically turned on or mildly affectionate. 

It just doesn’t seem like there’s a big connection. 

16) Lack of shared goals and future objectives

There’s a noticeable absence of discussions about the future or shared goals.

Relationship expert Rachael Pace spells it out perfectly:

“One of the top signs of a superficial person and a surface-level or casual relationship is that the partners don’t have any conversations about the future. 

“If you have brought up conversations about the future of the relationship quite a few times but your partner has deflected the conversation or hasn’t answered, it may be because the relationship isn’t serious to them.”

If you recognize these 10 signs, you’re emotionally compatible with your partner

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