In this post, you’re going to learn all about feeling invisible and how to be seen.
What Feeling Invisible Means
When we feel like our partner does not care enough to prioritize or even consider our feelings and needs, we often feel invisible and insignificant.
Many of us struggle to express their feelings and needs, but many people are scolded for being “needy,” when they share their feelings and needs.
If we go through a string of relationship feeling invisible, over time, we may begin to feel unlovable and inadequate.
Related: Emotionally Unavailable Husband Quiz
How Feeling Invisible Takes A Toll
Regularly feeling invisible, overlooked or rejected can lead to great emotional distress, including feelings of shame, sadness, anger, depression, fear, helplessness, etc.
It can also lower your self-esteem and make it difficult for you to assert yourself, not just in your relationship with your partner, but across all relationships in your life and cause you to isolate yourself.
Why Do I Feel Invisible?
Many of us see ourselves as the problem.
We may not contemplate the possibility that we’re with someone who cannot sincerely love of is emotionally unavailable.
After all, these people have appeared interested and loving at the beginning of the relationship, so we reason that they must be capable of loving and caring.
Truth is, those qualities may not be genuine love and care, but merely techniques used to charm you into the relationship.
It’s also easy to accept the blame when the other person disguises their emotional unavailability by accusing you of being too “needy,” getting irritated with your needs, and avoiding closeness.
It is not the person who longs for connection to blame but the one who cannot remain connected.
What Does It Mean To Be Seen?
To be seen doesn’t mean to be “viewed” or “watched.”
To be seen is to feel recognized, understood and affirmed.
It’s when someone truthfully reflects our own experience back to us.
What Does It Take To Be Seen?
For us to feel seen, our partner needs to have two important skills:
- Accountability, and
Empathy is an attempt to truly resonate with another person’s feelings.
This is done by putting ourselves the other person’s shoes, considering their perspective, and validating their experience.
For example, “I can see how you felt hurt when I failed to show up. You have every right to feel that way. I would have felt the same way had I been in your place.”
Accountability is when a person fully owns their part in a conflict rather than justifying, or minimizing their actions.
An emotionally unavailable partner might also play the victim in a conflict and flip the blame around on the other person.
Suddenly the conflict is no longer about the original issue. This is one way the emotionally unavailable partner evades accountability.
For example, “You are so ungrateful. I spend all week working so you could stay at home.”
What If Your Partner Is Emotionally Available?
Many people find themselves in a relationship with someone who is emotionally available and yet feel invisible.
These people struggle to connect with their own feelings and needs and find it difficult to assert them, not just to others, but also to themselves.
Experiences in early life, such as being bullied, surviving abuse and emotional neglect, going through toxic or abusive relationships, can cause those people to feel ashamed and lose their sense of self.
They internalize the belief that they’re not worthy enough to take space, including expressing their feelings and asking for what they need.
As adults, they continue to hide their feelings and deny their needs. They might become people-pleaser, caretakers, addicts, etc.
In other words, feeling overlooked or rejected can also be an indirect outcome of holding back your feelings.
How To Stop Feeling Invisible and Be Seen?
The solution depends on why you feel invisible.
If your partner is emotionally unavailable and isn’t willing to work on themselves, then maybe you should consider whether the relationship is worth keeping.
If, on the other hand, you struggle to express your feelings and needs because you don’t believe you’re worth “taking space,” even while being with an emotionally available partner, then the following tips might help:
#1. Get In Touch With Your Emotions
Without expressing your emotions, to yourself first, and then to the other person, it can be difficult for people to feel empathy and validate your experience.
Make it a practice to spend some time every day exploring your feelings and getting more comfortable sharing them, first with yourself by writing about them or expressing them using arts, and then with others.
Try pausing for a few minutes throughout the day and asking yourself:
- What am I feeling in my body right now?
- What emotions am I experiencing?
- What do I need right now?
#2. Challenge Negative Beliefs
Many people internalize the belief that they’re not worth “taking space” and that their needs and emotions don’t matter.
The following are some common negative beliefs around expressing yourself:
Examples of childhood negative beliefs:
- Boys don’t cry
- My view doesn’t matter
- Never get angry
- We do not hug
- We only discuss positive feelings
- Sharing my feelings with others will make them feel burdened.
- Sharing my feelings with others will chase them away.
- If I let other people see how I feel, they will use it against me.
- Sharing my feelings with others will make me appear weak.
- Letting others see my weaknesses will put me at a disadvantage.
To challenge your negative beliefs, use the following questions:
- What is the cost of thinking this way?
- What is the evidence that this thought is true?
- What would I tell a friend if he/she had the same thought?
#3. Connect with a therapist
Whether you’re struggling with expressing yourself or you’re with an emotionally unavailable partner, a therapist can be a great source of support and guidance.
Therapy provides a safe space to gain insights into possible causes of feeling invisible and address difficulties expressing thoughts and emotions.
Online therapy is also an option. It can be much affordable than in-person therapy, but can be equally effective. (source)
I recommend Online-Therapy.com for affordable online therapy.
(Disclaimer: This is an affiliate link, which means I receive a commission at no extra cost to you if you choose to use this link. You will get 20% off your first month)
When someone is feeling invisible, ashamed, and afraid to express their feelings and ask for what they need in a relationship, they’re probably with an emotionally unavailable partner.
Their partner might not be able to sustain closeness or have what it takes to make the other person feel seen (empathy and accountability)
However, sometimes we may find ourselves with an emotionally available partner and yet feel invisible. In this case, you may want to consider whether you’re advocating for yourself.
FREE Printable Relationship Worksheets (PDF)
- Feeling Invisible and Unloved? | Psychology Today
- Feeling Invisible? How to Be Seen and Heard | Psych Central
- The Four S’s of a Healthy Relationship (psychcentral.com)