Not feeling heard in relationships can be an extremely frustrating and isolating thing.
This can lead to you distancing yourself from well-meaning people or loved ones, and even cause you to no longer want to associate with people. It may lead you to cut certain people off, or even silently implode every time you deal with the individual that you feel doesn’t hear you.
Why does this happen? The desire to be heard is in our DNA. From our earliest childhood connections with our primary caregivers, we need to feel heard and attached to those important in our lives. Unfortunately, not all of us were able to grow up in a household with parents that had good communication skills: if our own parents struggled, how much more would we struggle!
For some of us, instead of receiving love and secure attachment, we inherited things like abandonment and shame from our parents.
Due to the lack of nurturing and lack of proper coping techniques received in our childhood, it’s that much easier for us to lose control of our emotions. In adulthood, we’re more prone to anxiety and stress, we’re quick to lose our patience, and some of us even struggle with intimacy in our relationships.
I am here to tell you: If you struggle with any of these things, you are normal, and God can meet you where you are. It is never too late, and nothing is too hard for God.
So, what exactly does it look like when one doesn’t feel heard in relationships?
8 signs you don’t feel heard in relationships
Here are a few examples of how you may feel when you are not being heard.
- You tend to repeat your point, so they’ll understand
- You feel resentment toward the person
- You shut down mid-convo, often feeling exhausted
- You leave conversations feeling sad and confused
- A person’s response to you feels like they’re missing the point
- You feel disconnected from the individual and possibly even yourself and God
- You often find yourself lashing out suddenly
- You generally feel misunderstood by people, even after repeated conversations
A person’s response to you feels like they’re missing the point!
Related Quiz: Do you feel Misunderstood or Unheard?
What makes you feel heard in relationships?
On the contrary, feeling heard in relationships can be the most liberating and freeing feeling! I can say personally that my friendships where I regularly feel heard are the ones that I feel the most seen and known. I value them the most, and I look forward to our interactions. I don’t question my position in their lives as often, and the comradery I feel inspires me to share that love with others!
Feeling heard enables you to connect with others, grow in community, and experience true intimacy. In these relationships you are able to feel like your authentic self, and you experience a sense of closeness to the other person.
6 tips to feel heard in relationships
- Don’t panic. There is trauma that can come from not feeling heard, especially over time, and there are general psychological effects of not feeling heard. If your nervous system becomes activated, this is normal, especially if you’ve ever experienced attachment pain.
- Take a break from the conversation if you need to. People are not mind readers, and sometimes you need to step away to be able to truly understand your emotions, and come back to the conversation more logically.
- Notice patterns. If someone in your life leads you to feeling unheard, it can help to bring it up to the person, light-heartedly and respectfully.
- Don’t take it personal. Everyone is not raised in the same way. We can’t always expect others to think like us. We act from our experiences a lot of the time.
- Pray. Ultimately, the only one that understands us perfectly and validates our emotions is the Lord Jesus himself. Cast all your burdens on Him because He cares for you! [Mathew 11:28] Tell the Lord your true heart, and He will bring you comfort.
- Examine yourself: How are you showing up to the conversation? Are you listening and attentive? Are you blame shifting and pointing the finger? Are your emotions regulated, or are you dysregulated? You must take care of yourself before you can expect others too!
Sometimes you need to step away to be able to truly understand your emotions, and come back to the conversation more logically.
Related Article: 10 Keys to Communicate without Arguing in Romantic Relationships
What to do when you feel like you’re not being heard?
Overall, the priority should be for both parties to be seen and known in the relationship. While you may be able to get your point across forcefully, a more amicable and long-term solution is to open lines of communication and understanding for both parties. If you find yourself losing your patience, don’t lose heart: tend to yourself and schedule time for another conversation.
It can be easy to place all of the blame on the other person, but before you do that, really ask yourself if you have given your all: maybe they genuinely don’t understand you, you have unhealthy needs, or have had a long day, or it’s just not an appropriate time for either one of you. Be aware of what your body is telling you (increased heart-rate, fight or flight response…] and if you generally can not stay calm, it’s okay to seek outside support individually and collectively.
Related Article: 7 Reasons for Lack of Communication in Relationships!
What do you do when your partner doesn’t validate your feelings?
-Similar to what is stated above, try not to take everything personal. Sometimes our partners do not have the capacity or understanding to bear our deepest emotions, they are humans and are still learning, too. Extend grace and mercy as much as you can. If you feel you’ve communicated as best as you know how and it still isn’t working, it may help to get the help of a professional therapist or psychologist that can assist you and your partner with contextualizing your own life experiences and making sense of them in the present.
If you feel like your partner is doing things intentionally to be abusive, lean into your support system as much as possible. Get to the safe-spaces in your life. While you shouldn’t depend on the validation of others to be your everything [ a lot of the time our gut feelings + the holy spirit will bring things to our attention ], the opinions of the people closest to us do matter. Use the appropriate boundaries to make you feel safe, and get professional help when possible.
Sometimes our partners do not have the capacity or understanding to bear our deepest emotions, they are humans and are still learning, too.