Emotional indifference in a couple is called ostracism. This disguised form of abuse occurs when one partner frequently ignores the other's needs, requests, or wishes by responding with silence or avoidance of conflict or requests.
Last update: June 04, 2022
There is a form of psychological abuse in relationships that we might call a couple's ostracism. In ancient Greece, to punish those who were considered dangerous, they were subjected to ban and isolation. This exclusion ended up becoming a harsh sentence for the person, because it was impossible for them to survive if deprived of the protection and consideration of the people.
In the sentimental field it is possible to witness the same dynamic. These are usually couples in which communication is absent and one of the two ostracizes the other.
This indifference includes behaviors such as ignoring the partner, not attending to his communication or emotional needs, but also not being present for a substantial amount of time.
Healthy communication involves three elements: sender, recipient and message. In relationships based on emotional coldness, there is a message and a sender, but not the recipient is absent.
The person who ostracizes is unwilling to communicate with the partner, she refuses to listen to him and tries to silence him through characteristic behaviors, such as not answering the phone or abandoning where they live.
"Sometimes indifference and coldness hurt more than real aversion."
-J. K. Rowling-
Signs of ostracism in the couple
We can understand if the partner is ostracizing us through different signals. Here are what they are:
- Refusing to talk about a conflicting issue. It is normal, and sometimes even healthy, for couples to fight. When there is ostracism in the couple, one of the two wants to resolve the conflict or reach an agreement, but the other does not go along with her attitude. It can also happen that you are completely ignored, as if you are talking to the wall. A similar situation repeated over time can deeply undermine self-esteem.
- Ignore the questions or answer in monosyllables. The person who is ostracized often responds with monosyllables to the manifestations of attention that the other person gives them. The aim is for the partner to get tired and stop talking. The problem is that this generates discomfort in the couple that is not resolved, therefore it accumulates.
- Avoid any kind of physical and visual contact. The victim of ostracism does not feel loved, on the contrary they have rejected you to the point of thinking that the partner is disgusted. This idea has a direct impact on self-esteem, as the person may end up believing that they do not deserve affection or contact, that they are not desirable or attractive, etc.
- Do not accompany at social events. It is true that everyone must be able to maintain their essence within the couple, but it is also true that the partner must be present. If she always refuses to attend an event, meeting, date, etc., she probably doesn't think they are important.
- Don't get unconditional support. Closely related to the previous point. The partner should give and receive love and support. If she cancels the other person's plans and dreams, she doesn't express encouragement or motivation, she doesn't offer unconditional support.
- Don't show affection. Despite the difficulties, the couple continues to love each other. This reality should be a pillar for the relationship. It can be discussed, but always with affection, respect and trying to reach agreements that benefit both of us.
What are the victim's feelings?
Ostracism in the couple manifests itself through different behaviors or signals. Sometimes they can go unnoticed because it is not a direct physical or psychological abuse. There are no verbal insults or humiliations. The problem is that even so, ostracism can be more painful than direct assault.
Sometimes the victim deludes himself with excuses not to leave the relationship because he thinks that this indifference is nothing more than a passing behavior. Likewise, it is normal to think that the partner is like this and that one's mission is to tolerate it or that it's not "a big deal".
Some people around can also lead you to believe that everyone has defects and that therefore you have to accept the partner who behaves in this way. Nevertheless, the victim suffers every day because she cannot predict when her partner will start ignoring her.
Often she finds herself immersed in a perennial state of anxiety: accumulating unspoken messages and pending issues. It is also common to feel fear. We do not express ourselves because experience says that indifference could recur, therefore also the pain and sadness it generates.