What To Do When You Are Suddenly Feeling Unappreciated

Medically reviewed by Kimberly L Brownridge , LPC, NCC, BCPC
Updated April 12, 2024by BetterHelp Editorial Team

Many want to feel like the people around them, including family members and certain people, value their efforts, thoughts, and opinions. Appreciation, such as showing appreciation through nice things, might validate and motivate you; this positive feedback can improve your self-esteem, happiness, and relationships. However, in some cases, you may begin feeling unappreciated by your romantic partner or even parents and kids, which can lead to feelings of frustration and negative thoughts.

Feeling unappreciated means that your self-esteem and emotions could be affected, potentially causing you to feel bad and creating conflict in your relationship. Feeling appreciated by people you are close to, such as your partner, children, or family members, can be essential to maintaining strong bonds. Recognizing and addressing the unappreciated feeling, possibly through conversation with a licensed clinical social worker or engaging in family therapy, can help you accept and manage negative thoughts, expect better outcomes, and ultimately save your relationship.

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You deserve to have a healthy, respectful partnership
Why appreciation can matter in a relationship

Knowing you're valued as an individual and a partner feels very meaningful. It can help you feel safer, less afraid, more driven, and happier. When your significant other shows appreciation for your efforts, like doing all the work with children, and communicates specific examples of how much they value you, they might make you feel good, confident, and motivated.

On the other hand, feeling as though your efforts aren't recognized could lead to relationship conflicts, low self-esteem, lack of motivation, and mental health concerns. Realizing what unappreciated means in this context is important, although it may cause you to feel worse.

What to do when you begin feeling unappreciated

Appreciation can be a vital aspect of an interpersonal connection, and feeling undervalued can create conflict in a relationship and lead to mental health concerns. If this is the case for you, there are several steps you can take to ensure a lack of appreciation does not negatively affect your self-worth or mental health. 

Communicate your desire for more appreciation

You may find yourself hoping others will instinctively recognize what you're thinking, even when you've kept quiet. This expectation may create tension in your relationship when your feelings aren't acknowledged immediately. You might feel your partner should realize when you are feeling unappreciated and should correct their behavior. Unfortunately, your partner can't read your mind.

Take the time to talk to your partner about your feelings when you feel your efforts aren't being recognized. If you remind them how a perceived lack of appreciation has made you feel, they may make immediate efforts to show their gratitude in the future by showing appreciation. Additionally, studies indicate the importance of communication in long-term relationship satisfaction.

Let your partner know how you value them and ask whether they feel you show them enough appreciation. You might find that both of you show and receive appreciation differently, which might help you create a more cooperative and constructive partnership.

As you're talking, try to speak in a non-confrontational manner. Consider using "I" statements, such as,

  • "I feel that my efforts aren't being acknowledged."

  • "I feel sad when I'm not thanked for the kind things I do."

  • "I feel unloved when I try to show thoughtfulness, and it isn't reciprocated."

If your partner sees that you're approaching the situation from a place of love and cooperation, they might be receptive to your point and not forget the importance of appreciation in your relationship.

Model appreciation

Creating a respectful environment where you practice gratitude for your partner's actions may help you feel more appreciated. Modeling appreciation doesn't necessarily mean expressing appreciation to receive it in return. It means appreciating others because it is how you genuinely feel. 

Pay attention to how your partner shows appreciation to others. You might adopt a new perspective on your partner's methods of showing gratitude. For example, you could notice alternative ways your partner shows love or affection, like repaying the favor through an act of service instead of acknowledging it with words.

However, if you notice that your partner doesn't seem to show gratitude or put effort into the relationship, this may be a sign that an unhealthy dynamic has formed. In this case, reaching out to a couples therapist or having a long discussion may be beneficial.

Know that individuals may express appreciation differently 

In healthy relationships, appreciation and love might be communicated in a variety of ways. If your partner isn't telling you that they value you, they may not be used to expressing their gratitude verbally. They might show appreciation by giving gifts, being affectionate, or practicing acts of service. 

For example, your partner might pat you on the shoulder or kiss you on the cheek after you take out the trash, or they could bring home your favorite meal on a day when you ran errands for them. These actions are examples of love languages identified by Gary Chapman to show how different people express love and affection. Chapman identified five ways that partners give and receive love: words of affirmation, acts of service, gift giving, quality time, and physical touch.

You might ask your partner how they prefer to show and receive love and appreciation. They might not be aware of their preferred method of expressing gratitude for the things you do. In that case, you can take an online love languages test together to find out. When you learn how the other receives love, you can find ways to demonstrate love in that love language so neither partner feels unappreciated.

In some cases, specific individuals struggle to show gratitude. Personality, hereditary factors, and brain structure may contribute to this ability. However, therapy or other forms of professional help may provide them with an opportunity to learn more about it.

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Set clear boundaries and expectations

Feeling unappreciated may be related to extra work you're doing in your relationship or a lack of reciprocation on your partner's part. If there is an imbalance in your and your partner's contributions, don’t be afraid to consider setting healthy boundaries that let your partner know how much you're willing to take on and what they should do themselves. 

A lack of appreciation may manifest as your partner taking advantage of you, so learn to say no when you feel a boundary is being crossed. For example, if you've already divvied up responsibilities when it comes to housework, you may have to decline if they ask you to take on one of their chores. If they do not pay their portion of the rent, let them know that you will not continue to do so for them.  

Know your value

Consistently acknowledging your worth and what you bring to the table can help you feel more confident and prevent a lack of appreciation from negatively affecting your mental health. You can develop your sense of self-worth by practicing self-gratitude and self-acceptance. You can express appreciation for yourself by acknowledging the utility of your completed task. Say thank you to yourself, take a break, or treat yourself. Value yourself regardless of the external validation you receive. 

Take inventory of your strengths and think about how they positively impact your day-to-day life and the lives of others. This technique may help you feel more confident and self-assured when it feels like you aren't being appreciated by your partner. 

Practice self-care

Sometimes, feeling unappreciated means your body or mind feels run down. Often, we feel gratitude from our partners when they care for us. If you feel unappreciated, self-love may provide that gratitude to yourself. You can practice self-care by nurturing your body, mind, and soul. 

There are several healthy ways of practicing self-love, including mindfulness, journaling, reading, or practicing sleep hygiene techniques. Consider creating daily routines to ensure you're showing yourself the appreciation you deserve.   

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You deserve to have a healthy, respectful partnership

Navigating relationship concerns with therapy

The fact that you feel unappreciated means that there may be a communication issue with someone you care about. If you feel like you're being taken for granted, or you'd like help working through other relationship concerns, consider reaching out to a mental health professional. You might go to couples therapy with your partner or try individual therapy on your own time. 

Many modern couples opt for online therapy. Studies show that online therapy effectively addresses relationship concerns, such as those related to appreciation and communication. In one broad-based study, researchers concluded that online therapy could improve relationship satisfaction, communication, and commitment. They also noted that online therapy could address individual mental health conditions like anxiety and depression, which may affect self-esteem and feelings of appreciation.  

Through an online therapy platform like BetterHelp, you can connect with a licensed therapist from the comfort of your home through video calls, voice calls, or in-app messaging. BetterHelp has a team of specialists who work with multiple topics, so you may match with a counselor who specializes in your area of concern. 

Takeaway

By communicating your feelings with your partner, setting boundaries, and showing gratitude to yourself, you may foster appreciation when it seems to be missing. 

If you'd like support and advice when it comes to feeling unappreciated in a relationship, help is available. A licensed therapist can help you take the next step in your relationship and mental wellness journey through individual, couples, or family therapy. 

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