Help! My partner has no emotions!

You might be surprised just how often I hear a partner say this when I begin counselling a couple.

Of course, when I first meet a couple, it takes a little while to get a good idea of not just what’s happening within the dynamics of the relationship, but also what makes the two of them tick as individuals.

No two people are exactly alike, everyone has a different nature, a different history, and, perhaps as a result, a different view of the World.

So, there is a bit of investigation that is required before any real progress is made in the process (in a lot of cases).

An interesting theme that I do hear quite often though while we move through the investigation period is the complaint that a partner “just shows no emotion”.

Sometimes these people compare their partner to a rock or a robot, or say things like “he/she is devoid of feelings”.

Of course, this is a statement that elicits further inquiry and investigation, and the end result often shocks and shifts the whole dynamic.

It turns out that, in fact, the partner is often showing emotions or “being emotional”, sometimes even more so than the person who is making the claim!

For example, sometimes the person who apparently “has no emotions” often shows frustration and anger.

They may frequently make the majority of their decisions from the emotional sphere of their brain – i.e. making big decisions without proper analysis (such as quitting a job on the spot).

Perhaps these people who it’s claimed have no emotions come home via the pub every afternoon, drinking away their problems, or they gamble excessively in a bid to have a better life?

These sorts of decisions aren’t being made in the high-level thinking/analytical part of the brain – these are emotional decisions.

Not convinced? How about some of these 27 emotions identified by the University of California, is your partner showing any of these?

  • Admiration
  • Adoration
  • Aesthetic appreciation
  • Amusement
  • Anxiety
  • Awe
  • Awkwardness
  • Boredom
  • Calmness
  • Confusion
  • Craving
  • Disgust
  • Empathetic┬ápain
  • Entrancement
  • Envy
  • Excitement
  • Fear
  • Horror
  • Interest
  • Joy
  • Nostalgia
  • Romance
  • Sadness
  • Satisfaction
  • Sexual desire
  • Sympathy
  • Triumph

So, as you can probably see, it is inaccurate to say that these people have no emotions – they’re just not flowing/being shown in the way that the partner wants to see the emotions (or perhaps how they are used to seeing emotions expressed).

Pointing this out to couples can lead to a huge shift in not only the dynamics of the couple but also in the individual.

They might have felt it themselves or believed the accusation that they were “a rock”, thinking the decisions they were making proved that they were devoid of emotions.

Finding out it was their emotional brain (primarily) steering the ship all along can reframe so much for them and help their partner get a better idea of what’s going as well.

About Joel Helmes 75 Articles
I offer a person-centered and solutions-focused approach to my work as a Relationship and Adult Counsellor. I utilize skills from a number of modalities. I believe that we are all capable of change and I hope that I might be able to assist you in achieving this.