What is disregard?

Disregard in relationships means that partners lack interest, concern, and sympathy for each other. Imagine making dinner and sitting down to eat with your partner. You eat together while your partner stares at their phone. Or maybe they look at you and you both smile and they talk to you, but you no longer feel connected to them. Feeling disregard towards your partner is an issue that can cause emotional pain and get extremely painful as time goes on. Although nothing bad may have happened, the connection you once had disappears. At this time, you may wonder if something has changed or if you just don’t feel love anymore.

Why disregard is a bad sign in a relationship.

Even partners who argue often show signs of making an effort to work for the relationship, but disregarding each other kills your passion and causes both partners to ignore their relationship. When you start losing interest in your relationship, you stop making an effort, and that stops happiness and love. If partners don’t care about how their relationship turns out, they won’t feel satisfied with it. Therefore, a successful relationship requires both partners to care about what happens to each other and what happens to the relationship.

Signs of disregard in a relationship.

Feeling disregard or being disregarded in a relationship is a clear sign that the relationship is falling apart. It is important that partners identify the signs of disregard early in the relationship. The sooner they recognize the signs, the sooner they can work toward understanding the cause and find ways to fix it. Here are some signs of disregard in relationships:

Lack of intimacy.A lack of intimacy and affection in the relationship will eventually break the connection between the partners and build up disregard in the relationship. If partners fail to maintain their connection, both emotionally and physically, they can expect their relationship to fail.

Lack of complaining.As annoying as complaining might seem, it can be considered a sign of a caring relationship. Usually, the root cause of partners’ complaining is to help each other improve and become a better version of themselves. Once the complaining stops altogether, it is a clear indication of disregard in a relationship because the partners have lost interest in making an effort to help each other become better.

Lack of communication.Good communication is a clear sign of a happy couple. Disregard can build up when communication begins to decline. This doesn’t mean that it can’t be fixed, but it is important for partners to understand that they cannot take communication for granted.

Lack of trust.Safety and trust are the most important things in a relationship. Couples with no trust in each other are more likely to break apart. When the trust is gone from a relationship, feelings of disregard will surely arise.

Abandoning common activities and traditions.When things that partners have always enjoyed doing have stopped being part of the relationship, it means that one or both partners are feeling disregard for their relationship.

Speaking less.When partners feel resentment toward each other, they often go silent. A lack of words to communicate their thoughts and feelings to each other and solve their issues will turn anger into disregard for the relationship.

Lack of sincerity and honesty.Lying is a sign of disregard. This is very tricky because people don’t always know when their partners are lying.

Spending time apart.All couples need some time apart, but if the amount of time partners spend together is falling toward zero, it means someone may be trying to distance themselves. Disregard causes one or both partners to expend less effort, so spending time together will be difficult for the person or people feeling that way.

Cheating.When someone feels disregard for their partner, they may not really feel that the relationship matters to them and may cheat.

How disregard can end the relationship.

Sometimes, what ends a relationship is not a lack of trust, lack of communication, or fighting with your partner. Sometimes, it is just simple disregard for each other. A relationship can survive most things if both partners are committed to each other and act with respect toward each other. Such a relationship can survive the most intense milestones, such as the birth of a child or unemployment. It can survive major decisions like buying your first home together, and it can sometimes even survive infidelity. Partners may survive endless arguments that span lonely days and nights because anger means that they care for each other and the relationship. Relationships can survive a lack of communication, even though communication is considered one of the key ingredients of a successful relationship. Partners can’t always agree, but they can and should let each other know what is going on and how they are feeling, especially when their partner does something that upsets them.

What is really difficult for partners to survive is feeling disregard for each other. When you give up on your emotions entirely and feel numb toward each other, that is a difficult situation to come back from. Communication may appear to be taking place, but it’s just superficial, just like a discussion two strangers might have at a bus stop. Just close your eyes and imagine arguing with your partner. Even when you argue, you are communicating and expressing your disappointment, hurt, or anger. You do this because you care. Disregard means not caring what your partner does in the relationship. Arguments stop and everything seems okay on the surface while the two of you are distanced, trying not to feel hurt. You may still interact with your partner, which creates the illusion that everything is alright. Being in a relationship means growing not only individually, but also as a couple. A relationship means you help each other grow and learn how to communicate, listen, compromise, love, and offer compassion to each other. When disregard causes you to close yourselves off within the relationship, you stop growing and learning.

Dealing with disregard in your relationship.

The first step to dealing with disregard in a relationship is by talking about it. If you are going to save your relationship, both of you have to acknowledge that there is a problem. You won’t see much progress if you are the only one who thinks there is a problem; and this is the reason most relationships dealing with disregard fail.

One way to help your partner understand that there is a problem is to remind them of the positive moments in your relationship. Remind them that your relationship wasn’t always like that and that ignoring each other wasn’t a problem before. Once both of you understand that there is a problem, sit down and try to find the cause of your disregard. Understanding why negative emotions and behaviors are more frequent than the positive ones is key. Some couples are able to do this on their own while others need the help of a marriage coach. Dealing with the underlying hurt will help positive feelings resurface. Ultimately, the only way to transform your unhappy relationship where disregard is the norm into a happy and healthy relationship is by putting in consistent work.

How to stop disregarding each other and heal your relationship.

For a relationship to grow healthy and strong, partners should engage in constant communication, displays of affection, and small agreements. For example, you could accompany your partner to their company’s dinner and they could take you out to your favorite theater. Here are a few steps to getting rid of disregard and mending your relationship.

Start a dialogue.It is important to find some time in the day and start a conversation with your partner. Talk about what is going on in their head, what went on through the day, and ask them to share their feelings and thoughts.

Make new small agreements.If your old agreements aren’t working anymore, make small changes in order to find what works for both of you. Sometimes, these agreements are not working due to differing goals or interests. Focus on your partner’s words and carefully consider their needs. Finally, be understanding and patient.

Be realistic.False expectations damage relationships. Especially when your relationship is at risk, communication is necessary to understand each partner’s expectations to prevent future arguments or conflicts.

Don’t blame each other.It is common in this situation to want to blame each other. Avoid this impulse and take responsibility for your own actions.

Stop feeling guilty.In a relationship where partners disregard each other, feelings of guilt are common. Each partner displays behaviors based on their own beliefs and experiences. What you do to your partner is not necessarily out of malice. Understand that, like all people, you have your flaws. Therefore, think less about guilt and more about taking responsibility and correcting your actions.

Disregard doesn’t have to be the end of a relationship. If caught early enough, disregard can be a warning sign that something has gone wrong in your relationship, and it can motivate partners to change and heal their relationship. If both partners in the relationship listen to this warning sign and seek help—from a marriage coach, for example—there is a high probability that their relationship will not only survive, but grow better and stronger than before.


Abbasi, Irum & Alghamdi, Nawal. (2016). Polarized Couples in Therapy: Recognizing Indifference as the Opposite of Love. Journal of Sex and Marital Therapy. 43. 10.1080/0092623X.2015.1113596.