Ignoring your feelings is emotional abuse. Period.
There are no TV commercials raising awareness for emotional abuse. It’s a little more inconspicuous than a black eye and much harder to film. But the scars sure do last longer.
At its heart, that’s what emotional invalidation is — emotional abuse.
According to PsychCentral, “emotional invalidation is when a person’s thoughts and feelings are rejected, ignored, or judged.” When you’re feeling invalidated by your partner, it’s a flat-out dismissal of your emotions.
But the signs you’re being emotionally invalidated are especially insidious because of their subtlety.
It’s a quiet erosion of your value in the relationship. Through a simple “Oh, grow up,” or a “Stop being a baby,” your partner is rejecting the validity of your emotions.
Your partner is basically saying that your opinion or feelings don’t count. It could because they don’t agree with them or they’re uncomfortable dealing with them. Invalidating your emotions means your partner doesn’t have to address them.
Regardless, no relationship ever worked where one partner doesn’t get to have their voice heard.
When people say that relationships take work, they mean maintaining that constant balance of each other’s emotions. Your partner avoiding the “work” in the relationship is like wanting to have his cake and eat it, too.
Anywhere you look for relationship advice, you’ll hear that communication is the key to a successful relationship. When your partner is shutting down your ability to communicate — turning your relationship into a one-sided conversation — they’re killing any chance the two of you have at making it.
You’re called partners for a reason. Both sides should have an equal say.
And this all goes without saying that not caring about your feelings is incredibly cold and callous. Here’s how you can tell it’s happening to you.
1. You never get to make any decisions.
He might hear you out to give you the illusion that he cares what you think, but, ultimately, he makes all the calls. Your opinions don’t matter, remember?
2. He straight-up rejects your emotions.
“There’s no way you’re mad at me right now. Not after I just took you out to dinner.”
3. And then he tells you what (he thinks) you really feel.
“You’re just jealous because you think I was flirting with the waitress.”
4. Or he tells you how you should feel.
“You should be grateful that I care so much to pay for your meals.”
Nothing is more frustrating than a person telling you how to feel. Think about any time someone has told you to “relax” during a heated argument. It just fills you with rage, right?
5. He ignores you.
The silent treatment is another way to say, “Your feelings aren’t important enough to me to even address.”
6. He makes your feelings out to be your fault.
We do have control over our emotions to some extent, but always claiming you’re too sensitive every time you get upset just invalidates any unhappiness you might have.
And then, since you’re “not really unhappy, just being sensitive,” there’s no need to talk about why you’re unhappy. This can apply to almost any emotion.
“If you would just learn some trust, you wouldn’t get mad at me for coming home at 3 AM stinking of stripper.”
7. He’s dismissive.
“This is pointless. You’re just overreacting.” Or, “Who cares about [insert something you care deeply about]?”
It’s like the silent treatment, but he’s telling you why he doesn’t want to talk about it.