How to Cope With Feeling Unwanted in a Relationship

What To Do If You Feel Unwanted In A Relationship

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We all want to feel close and desired by our partners, and when that doesn’t happen, we may become concerned. However, feeling unwanted in a relationship is extremely common.

Especially when new relationship energy (or NRE) wears off, long-term relationships may grow boring and lead to feelings of frustration, a lack of desire, or other potential issues that lead to one partner feeling frustrated. It’s important to note that there are many reasons why someone may feel unwanted, including some causes that may signify a deeper problem with yourself or your relationship.

In this article, we cover the potential reasons why you might be feeling unwanted in your relationship, how to know if what you’re feeling is that of feeling unwanted, how to address the situation, and what your next steps might be, including whether or not to end the relationship.

Signs of Feeling Unwanted

How will you know if you’re feeling unwanted, rather than another underlying issue in your relationship? Some signs that you may feel unwanted by your partner include but are not limited to:

  • You’re putting in much more energy into the relationship than your partner
  • The relationship feels one-sided more often than not
  • Your partner doesn’t initiate romance, sex, or intimacy
  • Your sex life has altered (e.g. having sex less often, disinterest in trying new things)
  • You’ve noticed they’ve pulled back compared to past efforts
  • Disinterest in spending quality time with you
  • Disinterest in physical touch (e.g. kissing, hugging, holding hands, etc.)
  • Not engaging with your content on social media when they do with others
  • Not listening to you when you share stories or voice your concerns
  • Seeming attracted to or expressing attraction toward other people

Potential Causes & Triggers

There are many reasons you might be feeling unwanted. There could be a deeper meaning, or root cause, to reflect on and locate within yourself that has nothing to do with your partner and everything to do with you. Potential causes and triggers for feeling unwanted may include any of the following:

  • Insecurity
  • Jealousy
  • Loneliness
  • Unhappiness in the relationship
  • Things have grown boring or stale
  • Sexual incompatibility
  • Romantic incompatibility
  • Unresolved trauma
  • Past experiences of feeling unwanted by a partner

Although you may have a tendency to take this personally, sometimes it has more to do with your partner rather than something you’re doing or have done. Here are some reasons why a partner may seem like they don’t want you when it’s actually something else going on in their life instead:

  • Stress
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Low libido
  • Body image issues
  • Cheating
  • Attachment issues
  • Work problems
  • Mental or physical exhaustion
  • Distraction
  • Avoidance
  • Other personal matters

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Tammy Nelson, PhD, certified sex and relationship therapist

It could [also] mean they have an inability to tolerate close or intimate relationships with anyone, no matter who they are involved with, which doesn’t have anything to do with you.

— Tammy Nelson, PhD, certified sex and relationship therapist

Nelson explains that people with avoidant attachment issues typically feel uncomfortable with intimacy and expressions of emotion. If your partner has difficulty sharing their feelings, she says this could be a sign that they’re distancing because they’re afraid of getting close, and all intimacy is stressful for them, and not necessarily that they don’t want you.

How to Address Feeling Unwanted

Depending on the severity and duration of how long this feeling has persisted, you can navigate this situation in different ways. Here’s what to do if you feel unwanted in your relationship:

First, reflect on the feeling by yourself

Could this feeling stem from an insecurity, jealousy, or some other deep rooted issue of your own? Journal or meditate on this feeling in an effort to figure out where it could be coming from.

Talking it out with a loved one may help as well. They might be able to listen to your concern, offer you valuable insight, and share an outsider’s perspective from a loving place on whether or not your feelings may be personal or due to your partner’s actions.

Have a conversation with your partner

If you still feel the need to address the situation after reflecting on matters by yourself, then it’s time to discuss your feelings with your partner. When you talk, try to avoid blaming them for the way that you feel. Instead, be open and honest about how you're feeling.

You can also ask if there’s anything that you can do or work on together to resolve the issue. This could include scheduling time for intimacy, regularly providing reassurance that there’s nothing wrong, or discussing potential causes that may be interfering with your relationship. “Lots of people keep their stress to themselves and don’t offer up their feelings without being asked,” adds Dr. Nelson.

“If they tell you that they’re not sure why their desire has decreased, see if you can get specific details from them about what’s actually caused them to lose interest in your love life,” she says. From there, she recommends letting them know that you appreciate them and that you want to find a solution that relieves everyone’s feelings and resolves their negative experiences.

Switch things up romantically or sexually

New relationship energy (or NRE) can inspire intense feelings of excitement, more frequent sex, and strong romantic gestures. Long-term relationships may grow stale after a while if nothing is done to keep the passion alive.

“Repeating the same things over and over and hoping that it will bring back the excitement you once had is common,” says Dr. Nelson, who suggests having a conversation about how to shake up your intimate life. Maybe you want to have sex in different places in the house or try new things.

If that doesn’t align with either of your wants or needs, she recommends planning dates or something more adventurous to look forward to. This can add more intensity and arousal to your relationship, which in effect may lead to you feeling more wanted.

Speak to a therapist or relationship coach

If self-reflection and having a conversation with your partner doesn’t resolve the issue, you may want to consider speaking with a therapist. They can help you and/or your partner better understand the root cause behind feeling unwanted and offer suggestions on how to find a resolution.

Dr. Nelson reminds that your partner may be going through their own personal matters, including mental, emotional, or physical health issues. She recommends asking them if these things are interfering with their desire issues and if they want help finding a therapist. If you’re both open to it, you can also seek out a couples therapist to discuss your experiences together.

When to End the Relationship

If you‘ve explored all of these issues, had the conversation with your partner, found no resolution, and have come to the conclusion that they truly do not want you, then it may be time to leave the relationship.

“It’s important to care for yourself, and separate from a relationship that is no longer working,” says Dr. Nelson, who recommends people who feel this way to stop waiting, wishing, and hoping that things will change. Ultimately, it’s up to you to work toward and find the relationship that feels best to you where you feel joy and your needs are being met, including feeling wanted, if that’s your goal.

2 Sources
Verywell Mind uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Leary MR. Emotional responses to interpersonal rejectionDialogues Clin Neurosci. 2015;17(4):435-441.

  2. Wardecker BM, Chopik WJ, Moors AC, Edelstein RS. Avoidant attachment style. In: Zeigler-Hill V, Shackelford TK, eds. Encyclopedia of Personality and Individual Differences. Springer International Publishing; 2017:1-7. doi:10.1007/978-3-319-28099-8_2015-2

By Morgan Mandriota
Morgan Mandriota is a freelance writer, the founder of Highly Untamed, and an expert writer at Verywell Mind.