Relationships require a lot of give and take. And not feeling appreciated for the effort and care you put into your partnership can be damaging to both your self-esteem and relationship, which is why understanding the signs that you’re being taken for granted can help you determine how to proceed with your S.O.
If you feel like you’re being taken for granted in your relationship, don’t panic. Sometimes that feeling is the result of a miscommunication that you and your partner can work through rather than an unresolvable problem, says sexologist Jess O’Reilly, Ph.D. “Oftentimes we don't realize that we're asking too much of a partner or taking them for granted because we've become accustomed to being supported, loved, or doted upon in specific ways,” she tells Bustle. “[It’s a] gratitude gap. Sometimes we feel grateful, but we don't express it in a way that our partner can really hear it.”
But other times that nagging feeling that you’re not appreciated is more than a communication gap: Sometimes your partner just isn’t treating you with the respect you deserve, which can spell the end of your relationship, says certified Planned Parenthood responsible sexuality educator Teresa Newsome. To help you determine if you’re truly being taken for granted, experts share 13 signs to look out for.
1. Your Partner Never Says Thank You
Whether you always cook dinner or plan regular date nights, odds are you do things to make your S.O. happy. But if they never say thank you, O’Reilly says this could be a sign that your partner has come to expect that sort of treatment. “For couples who function really well as a team, sometimes you don’t realize how much your partner does behind the scenes because you’re such a well-oiled machine,” she says. “We come to expect these favors and take them for granted.”
She recommends taking a step back and communicating about the effort you make for each other, even if it’s as simple as explaining how each of you contributes to household affairs. That way you’re each aware of the work the other puts in and have a chance to fill in that gratitude gap by expressing appreciation.
2. Your Partner Never Asks Your Advice
If your partner never asks for your advice, it could be that they don’t want it in the first place, says Newsome. Instead of viewing you as the kind of partner to make decisions with, she says they may see you as more of an accessory, which could be a sign that they’re taking your instincts, experiences, or education for granted. Let your partner know that you’re a part of the decision-making process, too — how they respond can be telling in regards to whether or not you’d like to continue your partnership.
3. Your Partner Never Asks Your Opinion
Another sign that your partner takes you for granted is that they don’t ask for your opinion, says Newsome. This might mean they don’t value your opinion or that they’re taking your perspective for granted. Regardless, she says your voice matters — and you have the right to express and assert your beliefs in a relationship.
4. Your Partner Makes Plans Without Asking You
Does your partner routinely book up your calendar without your permission? Newsome says that if your partner expects you to drop everything to adhere to their schedule, that’s a sign that they’re taking your time, availability, and interest for granted. She recommends asking your S.O. to talk to you about plans before committing so that your schedule is as prioritized as theirs.
5. Your Partner Doesn’t Do Their Fair Share
Division of labor can be a major source of contention when it comes to feeling taken for granted, says O’Reilly. If your partner expects you to cook, clean, shop, take care of pets or children, or do other household tasks without any recognition, that could be a sign they’re not fully appreciating your contributions. She suggests making a list of everything that needs to get done around the house — not to keep score, but to open up the conversation about how much effort each of you is putting into your shared responsibilities.
“We tend to underestimate what other people do and overestimate what we do,” she tells Bustle. “But it’s hard to know what somebody else is doing because we’re not always there, which is why it’s important to have these conversations.”
6. Your Partner Doesn’t Do Special Occasions
Do you go big for birthdays? Or are the holidays your favorite time of year? If special occasions are important to you but your partner doesn’t care, Newsome says they might be (wrongfully) assuming that it doesn't matter how they treat you because you’ll always be around. Luckily, she says clear communication about your expectations and some effort on your partner’s part can often put this issue to rest.
7. Your Partner Doesn't Make Much Of An Effort To Be Romantic
Not everyone is into big romantic gestures or PDA. But if your partner never expresses romance or flirtation, that might be a problem, says Newsome. If you haven’t expressed this need before, start there and give your partner a chance to address it. But if you’ve communicated this time and time again and your partner won’t budge, she says you’re being taken for granted — after all, no one should ever willfully ignore their partner’s needs.
8. Your Partner Is Unfaithful
Infidelity happens for all kinds of reasons, and it’s possible to move past it. But cheating can be one of the ultimate acts of taking someone for granted, says Newsome. It may be that your partner is taking the life you’ve built together for granted or assumes you’ll stick around no matter what. Either way, talking about infidelity can help you get to the bottom of the issue.
9. Your Partner Doesn’t Ask About Your Day
It may sound simple, but the absence of everyday expressions of care and interest could signal that your partner isn’t considering you the way they should, says Newsome. Perhaps they don’t think to ask you how your day went, maybe they assume they know the answer, or they may just not care. No matter the reason, not checking in with you is a subtle sign that they lack concern for your life.
10. Your Partner Doesn’t Consider Your Feelings
If your partner makes you feel bad, that’s a problem. Whether they’re picking their friends over you, making decisions they know will upset you, or just plain acting like a jerk, it’s never OK to feel disrespected in your relationship. Your partner should contribute to your happiness and wellbeing, not damage it, says Newsome, so if you feel like you’re being taken for granted in this regard, it may be time to move on.
11. Your Partner Dismisses Your Concerns
If your partner constantly gaslights you whenever you express your worries, O’Reilly says that’s a red flag. This toxic behavior suggests that they’re not prioritizing your feelings or experiences, and is often a sign of an unhealthy power imbalance in the relationship, she adds. If the situation is safe, O’Reilly recommends sticking up for yourself and making it known that your perspective is important. If not, she advises turning to a trusted loved one to help you safely exit the relationship.
12. You Never Feel Good Enough
Sometimes it’s not necessarily about what your partner is doing, but rather how they make you feel. If your S.O. makes you feel like you aren’t a good enough partner, then that may be a sign that they aren’t appreciating all the things you do put into the relationship, says O’Reilly. Ultimately, being with someone who makes you feel less than is reason enough to reconsider the partnership.
13. Your Partner Comes And Goes As They Please
A partner that does whatever they want, whenever they want without regard for your time and needs may also be taking you for granted, says Newsome. Relationships require some compromise, so a partner that is unwilling to bend their agenda to meet you in the middle may not value your time or company. Newsome recommends telling your partner if you feel this way so that you can both figure out how to meet one another’s needs.
Teresa Newsome, certified Planned Parenthood responsible sexuality educator and advocate for domestic abuse victims
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