7 Signs Your Partner Is With You Physically But Not Deep Enough Emotionally
Physical attraction may bring you and your partner together, but emotional connection is the key to keeping you two together. It's great to have a partner who's physically attracted to you and likes spending time with you. But if your partner is not invested enough emotionally, experts say, it may take a major toll on you.
"Without an emotional connection, our relationships feel joyless, lonely, and dull. We feel less important," relationship expert, Teresa Solomita, LCSW-R, tells Bustle. "Humans want to be seen, understood, mirrored, and cared for. We want to know our partners have our back and are there to listen when we have good or bad news." When you're with someone who's not present enough emotionally, that basic need to be seen and cared may not be fulfilled.
An emotional connection is something that's built through time spent together, communication and allowing yourselves to be vulnerable. It's a type of deeper connection that separates romantic partners from platonic friends.
Unfortunately, not everyone is comfortable opening up due to childhood experiences or a past relationship. Because of that, Licensed Clinical Psychologist, Lucy Bichsel, Ph.D., tells Bustle, they become afraid of being hurt, shamed, or rejected and may shut that part of themselves down.
It's not always easy to tell if your partner isn't willing to create emotional depth in your relationship. So here are some signs to look out for, according to experts.
1. Your Relationship Is Fun, But Your Conversations Lack Depth
A partner who's available to go out and have fun with you but is nowhere to be seen when it's time to get serious is someone who may not be emotionally available in the relationship. "They may change topics, avoid arguments or disagreements, or end them quickly by giving you the answers you want to hear," Solomita says. If "something inside you isn't settled when this happens," it's a problem that needs to be brought up if your relationship is going to work.
2. They Try To Prove Their "Love" Through Actions
When someone likes being with you but isn't too emotionally involved, they might do things to keep you hooked in ways that don't involve words of affirmation. For instance, Bichsel says they will compensate for the lack of "I love you's" by giving you gifts or taking you places. For them, spending time or money on someone can be a lot less risky than opening up and being vulnerable. And if this bothers you, it may be something to bring up with them.
3. The Sex Is Physically Satisfying, But You Wish You Felt More Connection
Having an emotional connection with your partner can take your sex life to another level. To be fair, there's nothing wrong with having sex without intimacy. But if most of your encounters feel more convenient or comfortable than passionate and sexy, Solomita says your partner might not be emotionally invested. If this is something you're looking for in your relationship, take note.
4. They're Noncommittal About Important Future Events
If your partner isn't deeply connected to you, Solomita says, important events such as meeting the family will make them feel uncomfortable, and they may try to avoid it. Big events like meeting the family typically means that the relationship is getting serious. There are expectations that come with getting more serious like opening up and being more comfortable with your partner to share your feelings. But if someone isn't invested enough emotionally, they're going to do their best to avoid that.
5. Your Relationship Is Making You Feel Lonely
When you're in a relationship, you should be able to turn to your partner for emotional support. But as Bichsel says, "People who love an emotionally disconnected partner often feel desperately lonely, unlovable, and unimportant." You and your partner may spend a lot of time together doing fun things. But if you feel like you can't turn to your partner for support when you're going through a tough time, your partner may not be as connected to the relationship as you'd probably like. Feelings like these usually arise when you've tried talking to your partner about your worries and they've brushed it off.
6. You Find Yourself Picking Fights Just To Get A Reaction Out Of Your Partner
If your partner is with you physically but not emotionally, you'll likely feel like you're not being seen or heard. Because of that, Bichsel says you may try to do things that will force a connection to happen, regardless of whether it's positive or negative. For instance, you may pick a fight or become emotional just to evoke a response. You may even accuse your partner of not caring enough just to see how they'll respond.
7. You're Not Entirely Sure If You See A Future With Your Partner
"When we feel emotionally connected to our partners we feel safe, known and protected," Bichsel says. This allows us to take big risks like moving in with them, getting married, or having kids. But when we feel disconnected, "our bodies and brains go haywire and tell us that something important is missing," she says. Without that connection, it becomes much harder to picture yourself building a life with someone.
The good news is, you can build a stronger emotional bond with your partner. But it can only happen if they're completely on board. If they are, be patient and go slow. You can't expect your partner to share their deep feelings with you right away. Once they're comfortable enough to do so, you can have a relationship that's both physically and emotionally fulfilling.