How do I navigate a relationship with an emotionally insensitive partner?

“Despite all my efforts to nurture the relationship, our connection is not balanced,” says an emotionally distressed girl

Hi Haya! 

I need some help and guidance regarding a relationship issue. Over the past two years, I have invested a significant amount of time, love, attention, respect and care towards a guy. But the problem is I don’t feel I’m being treated the same way by my partner. He says he loves me, but I do not see that in his actions.

Despite all my efforts to nurture the relationship, our connection doesn’t feel balanced. He appreciates me, but something is missing. He neither fully commits to the relationship nor gives me the space to move on. It’s causing me emotional distress, but I’m finding it hard to step back because I care about him so much.

Torn between my feelings for him and the realisation that the current situation is emotionally distressing as well, I find it difficult to take a step back due to my deep emotional involvement with him.

I’m reaching out to you for some advice on how to deal with such a partner. I would appreciate any guidance you could offer to help me understand what’s going on and what the future of this relationship could be. Will my partner ever fully commit to me?

— A distressed girl

How do I navigate a relationship with an emotionally insensitive partner?

Dear distressed girl, 

I deeply appreciate your willingness to share your concerns about your relationship, and it is evident that you have invested a significant amount of time and emotional energy into it. Let’s approach this situation through a therapeutic lens, and there are a couple of key points from your narrative that direct towards further exploration and self-reflection.

You’ve expressed a disconnect between your partner’s verbal expressions of love and his actions.

To begin with, it is important to identify your needs within this relationship, it is crucial to assess how the current dynamics align with your emotional well-being.

Identifying our own needs allows us to get clearer on what we want and where we are currently at.

Consider the emotional impact when his words do not align with his actions. Reflect on what this misalignment reveals about the relationship and what unmet needs may be present for you. Our actions are intended to be a mirror to our words, and our behaviour reflects our self-perceptions and attitudes toward specific situations.

I would further encourage you to engage in open communication with your partner. Share your feelings, concerns, and observations about the state of the relationship, and articulate your expectations. Defining expectations is crucial for both parties to be on the same page.

When emotions are invested, we like someone and have invested so much time in them there is a natural fear of losing the connection, that we may let our boundaries slip and slide. It is essential to recognise signs early on and respond in a way that sets the tone for the treatment you are willing to accept. Establishing boundaries begins with self-reflection and determining what you are comfortable with.

We willingly stay in situations that may not be going anywhere for months or even years; all in the name of connection – holding on to the hope of how great things could be.

However, take the space to create boundaries for yourself now. Boundaries start with you and what you tell yourself. You need to ask yourself what are you okay with. What is acceptable for you what is not acceptable for you?

Decide within yourself how much time you are willing to gamble while waiting for that behaviour to improve once you have communicated to him and set your boundaries.

In navigating complex relationships, we must distinguish the feelings we have for someone from how they make us feel.

The reality of a fulfilling life lies in the peace experienced around someone, rather than the anxiety-inducing anticipation of their presence.

The primary areas of focus appear to be assessing and identifying your needs, communicating expectations, and establishing boundaries.

The reality is we cannot predict or control another person’s behaviour. We truly only have control over ourselves. The future of any relationship depends on the willingness of both partners to address issues, communicate effectively and work towards a balanced and fulfilling connection.

Ask yourself what is more daunting: the prospect of losing the relationship or losing yourself in the effort to make it work.

At the end of the day, everything is hard. Staying is hard, leaving is hard. Choose your hard.

Relationships are a mutual journey and both individuals play a role in shaping their dynamics. It’s essential to prioritise open communication, self-care mutual respect and if you feel that is not there after you have tried multiple perhaps it is important for you to re-assess the dynamics of the relationship.

Good luck and remember to take care of yourself in this process!

Best Wishes,


How do I navigate a relationship with an emotionally insensitive partner?

Haya Malik is a psychotherapist, Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) practitioner, corporate well-being strategist and trainer with expertise in creating organisational cultures focused on well-being and raising awareness around mental health.

Send her your questions to [email protected]

Note: The advice and opinions above are those of the author and specific to the query. We strongly recommend our readers to consult relevant experts or professionals for personalised advice and solutions. The author and do not assume any responsibility for the consequences of actions taken based on the information provided herein. All published pieces are subject to editing to enhance grammar and clarity.

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button