In this article, we will talk about reasons why your boyfriend doesn’t acknowledge your feeling, the effect of emotional invalidation, and what to do about it.
In a relationship, you want your partner to acknowledge your feelings. However, this is not always the case. Sometimes you may find that your partner will not validate your feelings, knowingly or unknowingly.
Validation is one of the powers that connect two people in a relationship. When your boyfriend shares your joy when a good thing happens and appreciates what you are going through when you have a hard time, it feels good and creates a level of closeness.
It is called emotional invalidation when your boyfriend does not acknowledge your feelings. Emotional invalidation may cause mental health issues as one person may feel like they do not have a safe place in the relationship to open up even when they need help.
Emotional invalidation is a form of emotional abuse in the relationship. One of the most common forms of emotional invalidation is gaslighting. If your boyfriend is gaslighting you, he manipulates you into questioning your reality even with evidence and disregards the evidence.
So why does your boyfriend not acknowledge your feelings, and what can you do about it? Read on to learn more.
Why Doesn’t My Boyfriend Acknowledge My Feelings?
Sometimes you may think you hate your boyfriend because he does not validate your feelings. Your boyfriend may not necessarily be a bad person, but invalidating your feelings is wrong.
There are several reasons why your boyfriend may not acknowledge your feelings. Some of these may include the following;
1. He Is Stressed
Sometimes, your boyfriend may invalidate your feelings if he is stressed. For instance, you may go to your boyfriend with something that you feel genuinely needs attention, but he may be going through some stress and brush you off.
If your boyfriend is going through something at work or school stressing him, and you go to him with a problem, he may feel like you are bothering him. He may brush you off by telling you that what you are going through is not a big deal or that you are overreacting.
For instance, once, I was in an emotionally abusive relationship and didn’t even know it. My boyfriend would gaslight me all the time.
I would come to him with something that was really bothering me, and he would say it’s not a big deal or I am overreacting—this is my worst line to date.
2. He is too busy
When your boyfriend is too busy for you, he may not take the time to understand your feelings. This may lead to him disregarding your feelings. On the other hand, sometimes he may understand your feelings but is too busy to care.
This can cause quite a strain on the relationship. For example, imagine you went out with your friends, and something happened. You come home sad and try to tell your boyfriend, and all you get is a shrug, or he tells you you are acting crazy or that it could be worse. And goes back to his work. Naturally, that will hurt your feelings.
Sometimes you want someone to listen to you and work with you through your feelings. And if your boyfriend is too busy to listen to you, you will feel invalidated.
3. He is not used to discussing emotions
Sometimes your boyfriend will invalidate your feelings because he grew up in an environment where people did not talk about their feelings.
According to research, people who grew up in an emotionally invalidating environment may find it hard to validate other people’s emotions.
If your boyfriend grew up with people who could not validate his feelings, he might find it hard to validate yours.
For instance, if he cried as a child and was told to stop crying, what he was crying about was not important. He may have had a reinforcement that his feelings do not matter and thus believed that feelings don’t matter
What Are the Effects of Emotional Invalidation?
If you are going through emotional invalidation and have been for some time, you may wonder what the consequences may be.
Emotional invalidation will have detrimental effects on you over time.
Some of the effects of emotional invalidation include;
1. Self- Doubt
When someone gaslights you and invalidates your emotions, you lose confidence in yourself and second-guess everything you do. So you will start second-guessing your feelings.
If, for instance, something happens and you are sad or angry, you will stop to ask yourself if you have to feel what you are feeling or if you are overreacting, as your partner says.
This is a sad affair; if anything else in this life, one should be able to trust their feelings.
2. Anxiety and Depression
Emotional invalidation will often lead to mental health issues. If you have a mental health condition like anxiety or depression, it may aggravate your symptoms.
You may also develop mental health conditions if you do not have them. For example, you may be constantly worried when dealing with your boyfriend if you have to tell him anything about your feelings.
According to research, children who did not get parental validation are more prone to self-harm. This goes to show how much validation and invalidation affect our psyche.
3. Develop Personality Disorders
When you get used to having your emotions ignored and invalidated all the time, you may tend to hide your emotions. This leads to low self-esteem and issues with personality disorders.
If you have experienced emotional invalidation for a long time, especially if it started in childhood, you have developed a borderline personality disorder.
According to Marsha Linehan, a psychologist, and author, BPD develops when someone who experiences emotions intensely is exposed to an invalidating environment.
Some signs of borderline personality disorder include;
- Trouble managing your emotions.
- Feeling of emptiness.
- Self-esteem issues.
- Rapidly changing emotions.
What Do You Do If Your Boyfriend Doesn’t Acknowledge Your Feelings?
When your boyfriend does not acknowledge your feelings, you may feel a disconnection in the relationship and end up feeling unappreciated.
So, what do you do if your boyfriend does not acknowledge your feelings? Here are a few things you can do!
1. Talk To Him
The key to any successful relationship is communication. If your boyfriend is not acknowledging your feelings, you should talk to him about it.
Tell him what you need in the relationship and how he can improve his shortcomings. Make him understand how invalidating your feelings makes you feel and how it affects you.
Be as specific as you can with him when talking about your feelings.
2. Keep The Conversation About You
Your happiness is your responsibility and not your boyfriend’s, so when talking to your boyfriend about your feelings, it is important to keep the conversation about you.
If your boyfriend is not validating your feelings, it may not necessarily mean he is bad.
He may be just connecting the best way he knows how. If he grew up in an environment without validation, he might not know how to validate.
So, when talking to him, talk about you and what he can do to make the relationship better for you to be happy.
However, it would help if you approached the conversation positively and not put him on the defensive. For instance, instead of saying, “you need to change for me to be happy,” you can say, “I realize this is important to me, and it will make me happier if you did one, two, three.”
You should approach the topic in an emotionally centered position.
3. Don’t Fight Over It
If you feel like your boyfriend is ignoring your feelings, it is imperative that you don’t fight over it. A fight will only escalate the issue further, and you may feel your feelings getting more invalidated.
If you pick a fight over him ignoring your feelings, chances are he will say you are overreacting, making the situation worse.
So you will end up not solving the issue as you cannot communicate effectively when you are fighting.
If you talk calmly to your boyfriend, he may change and start acknowledging your feelings. So, avoid picking a fight and focus on what you need.
4. Manage Your Expectations
You need to manage your expectations when talking to your boyfriend about validating your emotions.
What are you hoping will change? What are you hoping your boyfriend’s reaction will be?
When bringing up this topic, it is important to know that you do not have control over what will happen.
As much as you are hoping for a certain result, you may get the exact opposite of that or a better result. You should recognize that your boyfriend may not meet your expectations.
However, going into the conversation with an open mind will help you with any disappointments that you may get.
Sometimes, you can talk to your boyfriend about validating your feelings more, and he may get angry, withdrawn, or shrug it off.
When going into this conversation, you should be okay with whatever outcome you get.
5. Recognize Your Boundaries
Remember, your happiness is your responsibility, and you deserve happiness. So, if your boyfriend is not validating your feelings, you need to ask yourself how much you can take.
What do you want from the relationship? Can you live without emotional validation? What do you want your boyfriend to change? What will you do if he chooses not to change?
According to Michael Sorensen, author and relationship coach, boundaries are important in a relationship. They keep manipulation and helplessness away and give room for compassion.
You have to make your boundaries clear in the relationship. You may seem harsh when setting down the boundaries, but they are for your and the relationship’s good.
Harsh will be staying in a relationship where you are not validated and do not feel appreciated. So decide what you need and do what’s best for you.
6. Talk to a Therapist
If your boyfriend doesn’t validate your feelings, and you have tried everything in your capacity, you may want to seek professional help from a therapist or a dating coach.
A therapist will help you work through your feelings and talk to your boyfriend about ways he can validate your feelings.
A professional will give you tools to work on yourself and your relationship and how to set healthy boundaries and not depend on your partner’s validation.
FAQs on Emotional Invalidation
There are several signs of gaslighting that someone is gaslighting you; they include;
They contradict your recollection of events
They claim that you said or did something you know you didn’t do
They call you crazy when you express your feelings
They express doubt about your state of mind and feelings
They twist your words and events to lay the blame on you
They insist they are always right and disregard your perception of things
Some of the most commonly used gaslighting phrases include;
“You are crazy.”
“You are being dramatic.”
“That ever happened.”
“It is not a big deal.”
“It is all in your head.”
“You are overreacting.”
“You are being emotional.”
What are the common signs of emotional abuse?
If you are wondering if you are going through emotional abuse, here are some signs that your boyfriend is emotionally abusing you.
- Discouraging you from spending time with family and friends.
- Telling you you never do anything right.
- Controlling and withholding necessary funds.
- Intimidating you through words and looks
- Pressuring you to use drugs or alcohol
- Insulting and shaming you.
- Pressuring you to engage in sexual activities you are not comfortable with.
- Belittling your achievements.
- He is always angry with you.
- Insulting your interests
- Use of silent treatment
What are the long-term effects of emotional abuse?
Some of the effects of emotional abuse may include the following;
- Depression and anxiety
We all need emotional validation and especially from our partners. Lack of emotional validation is a form of emotional abuse known as gaslighting.
Your boyfriend may be invalidating your feelings because he is stressed, too busy, or he may not know how to handle your feelings.
The effects of emotional invalidation may be short-term or long-term. Long-term effects include mental health issues.
If your boyfriend does not acknowledge your feelings, you should talk to him; however, you should manage your expectations and not pick a fight. You should also set healthy boundaries in your relationship.
Photo by RODNAE Productions
Sarah Williams is an author at CandidHaven.com she is an expert in human psychology having graduated with an M.S. in Psychology.
Sarah has extensive experience in relationships and dating therapy having worked for over 6 years with different groups of people including teens, dating couples, and married people.
She is a lover of life, and self-development and believes everyone deserves to be in a fulfilling relationship. Sarah loves reading self-help books and doing research on human psychology.