10 subtle signs your partner feels unloved in the relationship

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Who do you know the best in your life?

Many of us would say that those we know best are our parents, our siblings, maybe our romantic partner or close friends. 

But the truth is that keeping communication open in a romantic relationship isn’t easy. 

Your partner may be having all sorts of issues without you even realizing it, and if they aren’t that communicative you may miss the signs. 

Here’s what to look for to know if your partner is feeling unloved and upset.

1) They’re jealous of your attention to others

The first sign your partner feels unloved is when they’re jealous of attention you give others

If they already felt you love them sufficiently, they wouldn’t be worried about how your friendships or time spent with others. 

Whether or not you do love them sufficiently may be a matter of debate. 

Maybe you feel you do. 

But for whatever reason, that’s not how they feel. And even if your partner trusts you completely not to cheat, they resent you spending much time away from them. 

They want more of your company. 

2) They try to provoke you into jealousy 

An accompanying behavior to being jealous of your time spent elsewhere, is that a partner who feels neglected will try to make you jealous. 

They might do this in various ways, and hopefully they have the respect not to cross the line into actual cheating. 

In one way or another they will show you that they have other “options” and that other men or women find them attractive. 

This is aimed at showing you that you should pay more attention to them and value you more. 

The irony is that this behavior is often so transparent that it only makes you feel your partner is being needy and unnecessarily confrontational. 

This leads directly into the next point…

3) They start silly fights over nothing 

When you don’t feel loved, it’s easy to become a bit of a jerk. I’m speaking from experience here. 

A partner who feels this way may start silly fights over nothing, for example, leaving you mystified. 

This often leads to breakups, especially when the fights seem so random and there’s no apparent reason for them. 

Behind the fight is often an unexpressed desire for more empathy and love, but it doesn’t come across that way. 

Instead, it can feel like you’re in a relationship with a wild card who just wants to pick a fight with you for no reason whatsoever. 

4) They suggest vacations and couple time 

On the more proactive and positive side, partners who feel unloved may try to repair burned bridges by suggesting more couple time and vacations together. 

This is up to you to see if it’s doable or not. 

If possible, try to hear the unexpressed desire behind these suggestions:

A desire for more of your time and more intimacy between the two of you in a nice location that’s free from the ordinary pressures of work and life. 

This ties into the next point.

5) They hint at wanting more physical or emotional intimacy

When your partner tries to address this feeling of being unloved, they may initiate steps to seek out more from you. 

This can include light and tender touching, wearing sexy clothing or lingerie, sending flirtatious messages and opening up to you emotionally. 

They are hoping that you will reciprocate and that they will be able to enjoy new moments of emotional or sexual connection with you that boost the relationship. 

On the power and inspiration of these moments, they hope, some of the distance between you can be bridged and you’ll get back into the momentum and intensity your love used to have. 

6) They talk often about exes who treated them badly 

A partner who feels unloved will often bring up exes who treated them badly or ignored them. 

They are trying to either criticize you for doing something similar or warn you that you’re getting close to the line. 

This is a cry for help, no doubt about it. 

When they talk about exes, they may be fully accurate or exaggerate and invent a bit. 

Either way, this gives them the chance to work in a narrative that expresses what they want to say to you via talking about an ex. 

7) They don’t have your back when times get tough 

When the chips are down, where’s your partner?

If at all possible, the answer should be that they’re beside you and have your back through the down times, at the very least with moral support. 

All too often, however, that’s not the case. 

It’s not only that they are there for us when the chips are down, they’re also alongside us cheering when we hit the jackpot.

When your partner feels unloved, they tend to check out emotionally. 

While they may give you token words of encouragement or a peck on the cheek, the light is no longer in their eyes. They are absent in some key way. 

8) They fail to celebrate your wins or cheer you on 

It’s great to have a partner who will cheer on our wins. 

Partners who feel unloved don’t do that. 

It’s not only that they are there for us when the chips are down, they’re also nowhere to be found alongside us cheering when we hit the jackpot. 

If your partner is noticeably absent from celebrating your wins, it can often be that they aren’t feeling adequately loved themselves. 

In their mind they are distancing themselves from you because they feel you aren’t paying enough attention to them. 

On a related note…

9) They’re inflexible and easily bothered 

When a person feels unloved, they tend to shut down. 

This may manifest in your partner as a kind of inflexibility and strictness. 

They have retreated into your shell and begin to speak in a barking or shrill voice. 

They avoid eye-contact and talk to you as if you’re a roommate. 

It’s a sign they’re not feeling good about themselves or the relationship, maybe both. 

The problem is that you’re likely to react with hostility and feed into this cycle of them retreating and you thinking “what’s their problem?” and retreating in turn. 

10) They expect you to prove your love in various ways

One of the most aggravating aspects of having a partner who feels unloved is when they test your love

This tends to create a cycle too, because the more you’re asked to “prove” how you love them the more your partner’s neediness and demands begin to decrease your attraction. 

Whether it’s telling you what you like most about them, saying “if you really loved me you would…” or any other love test, it’s the classic sign of an insecure person who wants to be validated. 

Asking for you to commit more to the relationship or talk things through is something else entirely, and is healthy and recommended:

But this is where you’re asked to demonstrate and prove your love almost as a mind game and it just feeds into a toxic cycle. 

You’re being asked to constantly show you love them in new ways and new methods that never satisfy your partner. 

Relationship realism 

No relationship will be perfect.

If your partner is expecting you to love them exactly the way they believe they should be, it can create unfair expectations on you. 

This is where it comes down to realism versus having a partner who is overly demanding

If your partner feels unloved it doesn’t necessarily mean you’re slated to break up, so don’t worry. 

There’s likely still hope. 

If you notice many of the signs above and think your partner might be feeling unloved, talk to them. 

Try to work this out with clear communication and openness to really listening. Many times you’ll find that even small changes can make a big difference. 

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