Are You Feeling Unappreciated? What To Do And How To Speak Up
Updated February 04, 2021
Medically Reviewed By: Karen Devlin, LPC
When you are in a relationship, feeling unappreciated can be very hurtful. Feeling as though your partner takes you for granted and couldn't care less if you are around can leave a harmful effect on your self-esteem. When your partner takes you for granted, you can feel invisible. You can wonder if they even love you anymore.
Although self-appreciation is important, no one wants to feel unappreciated in their relationship. It is admittedly unfair to look for your partner to fill an individual vacancy. Yet, it is not unrealistic to look for some sense of graciousness. Knowing and valuing what your good characteristics enables you to realize how you positively impact the lives of other people. It also enables you to recognize when those qualities are not being acknowledged or appreciated by others.
A Reasonable Expectation
During a relationship, you want to feel that your partner is supportive. Not only do you want to be told that you are loved, but you also want to feel it. You look for a sense of security and safety within the confines of your relationship. One aspect of this is knowing and feeling that your partner appreciates the genuine you and the things that you do. It's common knowledge that partners don't always love everything about one another. It isn't realistic to expect your partner to view you as perfect. However, it isn't unreasonable to expect them to appreciate the positive characteristics that make you who you are. Isn't it why they fell in love with you in the first place? Keep in mind that the same appreciation that you want to receive has to be given. So, how do you know when your feelings are valid?
Signs That Your Feelings Are Valid
A lot of the time, people feel unappreciated but aren't sure if they have a reason or the right to feel that way. The first thing to understand is that emotions are reactional. If you are feeling a certain way, something happened to cause it. The right to feel how you feel should never be questioned. Determining the reason is a different ball game. Many things can be viewed as red flags. These things not only make you feel unappreciated, but they may also cause you to feel as though you are being taken for granted. Here is a shortlist of some common behaviors that may cause you to feel that your partner doesn't appreciate you:
- You Have To Point Out Your Good Qualities, Or They'll Remain Unnoticed. You should not have to sell yourself to your partner for them to see your value. If this is something that you have to do, you may want to re-evaluate the sincerity of your bond and whether or not the relationship is a healthy one.
- You Always Initiate Contact. If you don't reach out to your partner, you will more than likely not hear from them unless they need you to do something for them. There are times when you wonder if you are becoming a bother because you think that you are nagging them. A person that doesn't take the initiative, from time to time, isn't interested. It doesn't require a lot of time to say hello or let someone know that you are thinking of them, even if you're busy.
- You're The Only One Bothered By The Time And Distance. A sure give away that a person does not appreciate you is that they aren't bothered by not speaking to or spending time with you. For you, it has an emotional impact. However, they are indifferent. This is a clear sign that you are more invested in the situation than they are.
- The words And actions Don't Coincide. You're often left disheartened when the actions they do, don't support how they say they feel about you. Although the words are beautiful to hear, everyone wants to be shown through actions and behaviors that they are loved. At the end of the day, words are just words, and actions can be the most important thing to make a relationship successful.
How much of this list can you relate to or recognize in your relationship? When your partner truly values and appreciates your presence, there is no such thing as "too busy." They want to talk to you, spend time with you, and show you that they care. You would never have to question if you didn't pick up the phone, how many days would pass before you hear from them. Remember, some of the busiest people in the world make time for their romantic partners, so a busy schedule is likely a poor excuse from your partner.
How Being Appreciated Affects Us
You may be wondering if you make such a big deal out of feeling unappreciated is worth it. Is it that serious? The fact that you are bothered by it makes it serious enough to be addressed. Any negative feeling or emotion that is the product of a relationship situation should never be ignored. Being appreciated makes you feel that your person values you, your presence and how you feel about them. You're being recognized and liked for the qualities that make you who you are. Additionally, feeling appreciated adds a sense of relevancy to your life. You feel important through your connections to other people.
Being appreciated helps nourish a positive sense of self-worth. This is why when people are feeling unappreciated, their self-esteem is often lowered significantly. Feeling unappreciated can often feel like a threat to your emotional safety. You're left to wonder if you can rely on your partner when you need them, the way that you are certain they can depend on you if they ever needed to. A sense of worthlessness in a relationship often leads to emotional withdrawal, resulting in more serious relationship issues. Having a partner that openly acknowledges how much you mean to them gives you a sense of emotional security that allows you to open up and your bond.
What To Do
So, what should you do when your partner is making you feel unappreciated? Remaining in a relationship that you feel unappreciated in, is not a healthy choice. However, before just up and running, you should allow your partner to correct their behaviors. There are times when some people get so used to functioning as a solo unit, that they forget the fact that there is someone else who they need to take into consideration. Other times, the complaints that you have may have never been brought to their attention. Don't be surprised if you hear, "I've been told that before." They may have never been allowed to make changes in their relationships, so they don't know how. Here are some things you can do to help get your partner to appreciate you:
Give To Receive
Before you point out the behaviors that are making you feel that you aren't appreciated, be sure that all of your ducks are in a row. Relationships are give and take. They don't last very long without reciprocity. Just as you want to be shown, allow your partner to feel and understand that you appreciate them for who they are. One of the first things we are taught in school is to treat others the way you want to be treated. This is the same concept here. Express to them that you desire to be treated like how you treat them.
You were attracted to one another because you saw each other without obstruction and were both impressed with what you saw. Being with someone requires teamwork. You have to be realistic about one another's imperfections and strong points while being willing to accept them and love them as a whole person. Not just the bits and pieces that you like. This is what reciprocity is about - giving what you want in return. The lack of reciprocity causes feelings of unappreciation.
Be Open And Specific
Honesty and specificity are important in situations like this. You need to let your partner know what behaviors make you feel the way that you do. It is unfair to be vague, for fear of hurting their feelings and then expect them to be able to address the issue successfully. Don't set yourself and your partner up for failure by sugar-coating the truth. Take time, before the conversation, to find the correct words to express how you are feeling. At times, the words you choose make all of the difference in what you're saying and how it is received.
It is nice to feel appreciated, but you must continue to appreciate yourself. No matter what is taking place in your relationship, self-care is vital to your overall health. Self-care can help you to get in the right mindset when dealing with feeling unappreciated in a relationship. So, keep in mind that you are one entity, in a relationship. However, the relationship doesn't complete you, and your worth and value are not solely reliant upon it or whether or not your partner recognizes your worth. Moreover, don't allow someone else's behaviors to dictate how you treat other people. Continue to put in the effort into your relationship that you want to receive in return.
Consider Relationship Counseling
To sum it all up, your happiness and self-worth are your responsibility. Still, it isn't unrealistic to expect your partner to enhance certain emotions throughout your relationship. There has to be an understanding that you don't want to feel taken for granted, neglected, or as if you are not important to them. Take steps to connect the emotions with the behaviors that invoke them. Discuss the issue with your partner in an open, calm and honest manner. Then, work together to find a resolution. If you two cannot find a resolution by yourselves, consider going to couples counseling. A licensed counselor can help your partner understand what they do that makes you feel unappreciated. They can also help you to appreciate yourself and know if your concerns are valid
Relationships have ups and downs, highs, and lows. There will be challenges and hurdles. If you are committed to making it work, you will be amazed at how much you can overcome, together.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
What does feeling unappreciated mean?
Simply put, feeling unappreciated means that in one situation or another, you feel that your value or contribution isn’t appreciated enough. This feeling manifests in different ways and can spring up from several different contexts. So, the first step to knowing if you’re feeling unappreciated is assessing the context where you’re feeling it.
For example, you may be feeling unappreciated at work. In this case, you’ll probably feel like you’re doing more work than your colleagues, even though you receive the same pay or praise as you. Or, you may feel that you’re always expected to step up and do extra work, even if it’s outside your job description and you’re not getting paid for your extra efforts.
In a relationship, feeling unappreciated can look like your partner always prioritizing other people or tasks above you. For example, instead of spending time with you, they may always be spending time with other friends. Or, you may feel that in terms of work around the house or in the relationship, they don’t pull their own weight. You might feel that you do all – or the vast majority of – the hard work and heavy lifting in the relationship. This can also be a sign of feeling unappreciated in your family or home dynamic.
How do you deal with unappreciated feelings?
If you’re feeling underappreciated, you should start by examining yourself. Remember, feeling unappreciated doesn’t mean that the people around you don’t appreciate you. They may not see the patterns in their behavior and they might not understand how their actions are hurting you. So, the first step to dealing with unappreciated feelings is talking to the person who makes you feel unappreciated.
This could mean asking to talk to your boss and explaining how the extra work that you feel expected to do is outside the purview of your contract. Or, you can explain to your partner or friend how you feel that you’re doing most of the work in the relationship. In a family setting, bring it up with everyone all at once; you may find that others in the family feel the same way. Talking through the unappreciated feelings is the first step, because in many cases, the other person wouldn’t have guessed that you were feeling so unappreciated.
Then, you should talk through and settle on a plan for real behavior change. This means that, in whichever context you’re feeling unappreciated in, you should have some ideas to propose how changing the dynamic could make everyone appreciate each other more. Of course, this plan will vary drastically based on the context that you plan to apply it in. Also, it’s important to keep in mind that even though you can raise the issue, you cannot force anyone to change their behavior. Such changes take time and effort from everyone involved.
What do you say to someone who feels unappreciated?
Before you find the right words to say to someone who’s feeling unappreciated, there are definitely a few things that you shouldn’t say and do. Most importantly, you shouldn’t discount their feelings or tell them that they’re feeling incorrectly.
In terms of what to tell someone who’s feeling unappreciated, you can start with two simple expressions: “I’m sorry” and “thank you.” Both of these are straightforward ways to address their feelings of being unappreciated. They say that you acknowledge how you contributed to their feeling unappreciated, and how you want to show more appreciation towards them.
You can also start bringing attention to the little things that they do for you on a daily basis. While this may seem excessive at first, it’s a great way to make yourself aware of all the small but significant ways that they contribute to your life, all while making them feel valued.
The most direct way, though, if you want to help someone stop feeling unappreciated, is to simply ask them what makes them feel appreciated. They may not have an answer immediately, and they may need some time to think about it. But, when you’re both open and honest about what makes you feel valued in a relationship, both of you can help the other feel appreciated and loved.
How do you know if you are being taken for granted?
In any relationship, whether it’s at work or home, there’s the chance that you’ll be taken for granted. There are a few key indicators that show up when someone is feeling like they’re being taken for granted, or feeling unappreciated. Some of the top ones are:
- Feeling like no one can see (or chooses not to see) you.
- Thinking, “If I weren’t here, no one would miss me.”
- Interpreting people’s “I’m too busy” as more than excuse, but as something personal.
- Feeling resentment towards the other person.
- Feeling that you are intruding on the other person’s time, skills, or energy.
- Feeling that you don’t add much value or contributions to the other person’s life.
All of these feelings and thoughts have been shown to contribute to depression, so it’s important to assess your feelings seriously and honestly when it comes to feeling unappreciated.
Basically, if you constantly feel that your presence or contribution in any relationship is going unnoticed by the people around you, then you might be being taken for granted. But remember, just because it feels this way doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s true. Of course, the feelings are real. But, the others around you – your colleagues, your partner, your family – might also be having a hard time expressing their appreciation. If this is the case, this imbalance in the relationship can often be solved by talking through their feelings and listening intently and intentionally to their responses. From there, you can build better intentions and better actions towards each other into the relationship.
How do you know if you are valued in a relationship?
If you’re feeling unappreciated, you may want a sign from your partner that they actually appreciate you. It’s easy to immediately jump to grand romantic gestures, expensive gifts, and outstanding proclamations of love. And while these things may make you feel more valued in a relationship, they are only temporary fixes to feeling unappreciated.
For a long-term and sustainable model of feeling appreciated and valued, you should look to the day to day life of the relationship. While an expensive gift is great every now and then, having your partner help with the dishes every day or tell you that they love and appreciate you is actually a much better way to find value in the relationship. Maybe your partner isn’t outspoken, and this leaves you feeling unappreciated. However, talking to your partner about how this makes you feel can often prompt them to be more open and expressive when it comes to showing you how valuable you are to the relationship.
If broaching the subject seems scary or uncomfortable to you, you could consider getting help from a couples’ counsellor. They act as an objective and trained third party so that you and your partner can work through your feelings together in a safe and productive space.
What do you do when no one appreciates you?
If you’re feeling that no one appreciates you, the first thing to do is to look at the contexts where you feel this way the most often. Then, you should ask yourself, “What would need to change in each of these contexts to make me feel appreciated?” In some instances, it may be something that you need to change about yourself. In other cases, it might require an honest conversation with your boss, housemates, or partner.
It really helps to make a list of these changes that you’d like to see in yourself and others. Then, consider which items on the list are immediately actionable. If there are behavior changes that you need to make, like stepping back from tasks at work that aren’t part of your job description or having a serious talk with your housemates about mutual respect, then start those right away. In many cases, talking out your feelings with your colleagues, partner, or family is the first step to solving that feeling of being unappreciated.
How do you make people appreciate you?
If you want people to appreciate you more, there are a couple ways that you can go about that. For example, if you’re feeling unappreciated at work, you can start refusing to do jobs that are outside your exact job description. Or, you can demand pay for the extra hours and tasks that you do. This way, people will really notice how much extra time and effort you’re contributing to the job.
In a relationship, it’s best to talk about the subject directly. You should explain to your partner that you feel unappreciated, and give them the reasons why. Now, this doesn’t have to be a session of dredging up every single time that they’ve hurt your feelings. Instead, pick specific and recurring behavior to mention. For instance, if your partner is constantly putting off a date but still has time to hang out with their other friends, you can explain how this leaves you feeling unappreciated.
In many cases, talking out the problems and feelings can lead to real change in the relationship. Often, until you express explicitly that you’re feeling unappreciated, the people around you don’t know. Upon learning how you feel, however, they’re often keen to change their behavior and make you feel more valued, no matter the context.
How do you make him not take you for granted?
If your partner seems to be taking you for granted, or if you’re feeling underappreciated by your partner, there are a few things you can try. First, talk to him. He might not know how you feel; he might be surprised to know that you feel like you’re being taken for granted. When you talk to him, though, be sure to use calm and neutral language, “I feel” statements, and be totally honest. This isn’t a blame game: it’s an attempt to make your relationship better.
You can also have an honest look at the division of labor in the relationship. This includes everything from the tasks around the home, to the emotional labor of maintaining the relationship. You may find that you were overestimating the percentage of the work that you’ve been doing in the relationship. While it may be jarring to learn that, it shows a great way for both you and him to change your behavior and grow in the relationship together.
If his behavior continues, or if he’s prone to ignoring your needs most of the time and then making huge grand romantic gestures as a way to “make up” for all the time he’s spent taking you for granted, then you might need to move on. Remember, it’s not these once-in-a-while actions that will make you feel appreciated. You’re looking for consistent actions. In the end, you aren’t able to change his behavior; only he can do that. Of course, these changes will take time, but he will have to put forth the effort.
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