While everyone's allowed to focus on themselves, and take time to do what they'd like to do, if your partner strikes you as lazy or self-centered more often than not, it could be a
sign of emotional neglect. And that's because, while laziness may be what you witness on the outside, the habit often stems from an internal thoughtlessness, clinical psychologist Dr. Julie Gurner, tells Bustle. And that can have a negative impact on your relationship.
If your partner lets you down once or twice, it's no big deal. But if you notice a pattern, it's best to point it out. "Emotional neglect is a problem best caught early on and sometimes just a joking reminder is all that is necessary [to turn things around]," Dr. Gurner says. "For example, if [your partner] doesn't consider you when getting their coffee, say, 'Hey, what's this? Where's mine?' Sometimes a nudge is all that's necessary, and you'll see them think of you next time around."
This is a simple way to prevent thoughtlessness and
laziness from turning into a habit, which can easily turn into neglect. "When you let these issues go on and deteriorate, it takes far more work and strife to bring it back, if it comes back at all," Dr. Gurner says. "Behavior that seems insignificant can be a great opportunity to keep things on track and keep your needs met so that you're top of mind." Read on for some lazy habits that can easily become neglect, according to experts.
They Forget About You In Small Ways
It's fine if your partner occasionally drops the ball and forgets to take you into consideration as they go about their day. But if they
used to do nice things for you, and have suddenly stopped, take note.
"Things that seem like laziness, but can be a sign of emotional neglect, are often the absence of behaviors that once attended to your needs," Dr. Gurner says. For example, maybe they've stopped making you coffee in the morning, or asking about your day.
While it may not seem like a big deal at first, if they
forget about you in small ways, it could be a sign things are starting to go down hill. "Your partner is no longer thinking of your needs, or considering you in the same way they once did," Dr. Gurner says. "Keep an eye open for these [moments], because they often lead to other larger neglectful behaviors where your needs are not being considered."
They Flake Out On Plans
While it's fine if your partner wants to stay in and have a lazy day, if they constantly flake out on plans — or leave you hanging on a scheduled date night — it can be a
sign of emotional neglect.
"It is a deeper issue than just laziness," Jonathan Bennett, relationship and dating expert at
Double Trust Dating, tells Bustle. "People get busy and things come up. However, it only takes a few seconds to explain a situation or modify plans. If your partner can’t do that, it’s a red flag."
It can be easy to brush off a partner's lateness as a small character defect, or bout of laziness. But it can be a sign of a problem. As Bennett says, "Sometimes people can’t help being late. But, if your partner is always showing up late to events that are important to you (work parties, dates, family gatherings), then it goes beyond laziness. It shows that supporting you
isn’t a major priority." And that's not OK.
They Don't Make Time For Important Convos
"No one is 'too busy' or 'too tired' to discuss important relationship issues," Bennett says. "If your partner is constantly blowing you off when you want to discuss the health and
future of the relationship, then it’s a sign of emotional neglect or avoidance."
This is something you can point out to them, as they may not realize they're doing it. But if it continues, it may mean your partner isn't as
invested in the relationship as you'd like them to be.
They Don't Plan Dates Or Vacations
Everyone brings different qualities to a relationship, and some are better at making plans than others. And yet, if your partner doesn't make an effort to
keep your relationship fun, take note.
"This could simply be an act of selfishness or act of cluelessness, or an act of laziness," Joshua Klapow, PhD, clinical psychologist and host of
The Kurre and Klapow Show, tells Bustle. "But because it is emotionally-focused it could also be, if intentional, a form of emotional neglect."
They Don't Respond When You're Sick
It's not a lot to ask for partner to show up with soup when you're sick, or to offer a ride when you need to see the doctor. So if small, loving favors like these
never happen, take note.
After all, it's such an easy way for your partner to show their support, Rori Sassoon, relationship expert and CEO of
Platinum Poire, tells Bustle. If they decide to be lazy when it comes to helping you out when you're sick, it can be seen as neglectful.
They Make You Travel To Them
"They might just be lazy and not want to get off their couch," relationship expert Lily Womble, founder of
Date Brazen, tells Bustle. "But if you find yourself doing all of the commuting, you need to ask yourself why."
Is it because it makes sense logistically? Or because your partner just isn't invested enough in your relationship — or your happiness in general — to make the effort? The line between laziness and emotional neglect can be "thin and hard to gauge," Womble says. But this one definitely borders on neglectful.
They Don't Help Out With Errands
If you're the one who goes grocery shopping, pays the bills, or cleans up your apartment, it may not seem like a big deal at first. But take a moment to think about how your partner's laziness in these areas impacts your relationship, as well as how it
makes you feel overall.
As Sassoon says, if you feel like they're leaving you hanging — especially if they agreed to help out, but haven't — it can result in you feeling neglected. You may even start to wonder if they'll be there for
the bigger things in life, since they can't even help with the small things. And that's definitely not fair.
You Initiate All The Conversations
Again, this may be more about strengths than emotional neglect. But if it seems like you're the only one who initiates conversations — especially if your partner
used to be down to chat — consider how it may be the start of a problem.
As Womble says, "If you're doing all the
work to communicate, it's a sign that they might be checked out. And if that's the case, emotional neglect is at play."
They Forget To Text Back
Don't jump to conclusions if your partner ignores a text or two, as it's not possible (or fair) to expect each other to monitor your phones 24/7.
Do, however, consider how it might be a sign of emotional neglect if they do it all the time, and especially so if you've
told them how much it bothers you, as that's yet another red flag.
"If they are disconnected emotionally, they may see a text come in from you and may feel like you’re not important enough in that moment to respond to,"
Heidi McBain, a licensed marriage and family therapist, tells Bustle.
Since that can quickly spiral into the realms of emotional neglect, it's a problem you'll want to talk about as a couple, and figure out ways to handle it.
They Refuse To Go To Family Events
If you invite your partner to a family event or get-together with friends and they refuse to go, consider what it might mean, McBain says.
While it's fine if they pass occasionally, or have something else to do that day, if they'd rather stay home and watch TV than
attend and support you, it may be a sign they aren't making your needs a priority.
When things like this happen, consider how it makes you feel, and what your partner's motivation might be. If they have a good reason for letting you down, or you've discussed it as a couple, it doesn't have to be a big deal.
But if you consistently feel ignored, or like you're not a priority, let them know. This is a problem that can be easily fixed by talking about it, or it can be one that
leads to emotional neglect. So try not to suffer in silence.