No one ever said relationships were easy and perfect — there will be good times and bad times. But, if you’re noticing a lot of red flags, it may be time to consider whether or not your relationship is healthy.
According to experts, here are the signs of an unhappy relationship and what to do about it:
Rachel Davidson, MA, LPC-A
Licensed Professional Counselor Associate, Malaty Therapy
Whether you are in a long-term relationship or just beginning a new one, you may find yourself asking whether you are truly happy in your relationship.
Many factors can weigh in on whether your relationship is happy, but there are some signs to be aware of, which may serve as red flags that something is wrong between you and your partner.
We want to be aware of what our partner is contributing or failing to contribute and what we bring to the relationship.
It is much easier to blame the unhappiness we experience on someone else, but frequently we neglect the internal work necessary to see how we may contribute to our own unhappiness in a relationship.
You lack trust in your partner
Trust can be difficult for a myriad of reasons, ranging from one partner’s personal experience with:
- Family members
- Past partners
- Infidelity or dishonestly experienced within the current relationship
Regardless of the reason, when we cannot trust our partner, tension grows within the relationship, communication is compromised, and closeness is inhibited. These factors make us feel distant from our partners and, ultimately, unhappy.
We need to practice honesty in order to build trust in our relationships.
Begin taking small steps to demonstrate to your partner that they can trust you and ask them for what you need in order to build your trust in them.
If you and your partner are willing to make these compromises, over time, you can build a healthy foundation of trust in one another and feel comfortable and happy in your relationship.
You have a low sense of self-worth
Even if you believe you are very compatible with your partner, you may still feel unhappy in your relationship. This could be a result of a low sense of self-worth.
When we don’t feel good about who we are or what we bring to the table, we are unable to show up in our relationship as our best selves.
This can manifest in resentment or jealousy towards our partners, petty arguments, or generally negative energy we bring into the relationship.
We might pick fights for seemingly no reason to prove to ourselves that we are just as worthless as we believe ourselves to be. This is unhealthy for our relationship and not only has a negative impact on us but also on our partner.
Seeking support from a mental health professional is a great way to begin building our self-worth. When we put work into ourselves, we can be better partners and increase the happiness we experience in our relationship.
You avoid your partner
If you find yourself physically or emotionally avoiding your partner, it could be a sign you are unhappy.
Do you find yourself staying out of the house as long as possible, so you don’t need to see or talk to your partner? Do you use alcohol or drugs to avoid being present with them?
These are examples of avoidance behaviors that could indicate that, for whatever reason, being with your partner does not feel safe or comfortable. This can be a matter of physical safety as well as emotional safety.
It can also be tied in with a lack of trust and a low sense of self-worth. When we don’t like who we are and don’t have trust in our partners, it makes it extremely difficult to be around them in an authentic way.
Explore the possibilities of working individually on your mental health
These are only a few signs of unhappiness in your relationship. Ask yourself whether you feel safe, comfortable, and generally at ease in your relationship.
If the answer is no, something within the relationship is likely making you unhappy.
If you and your partner are committed to making your relationship work, explore the possibilities of working individually on each of your mental health and working together as a couple to resolve the barriers to your happiness.
Just because your relationship is not currently happy does not mean it is doomed.
If you are willing to be introspective and put in some hard work, there is the hope of finding happiness in your relationship.
Claudia Delgado, LCSW
Affair Recovery Therapist, Affair Recovery Counseling
There are many signs of unhappy relationships. Are you struggling with communication? Do you feel unheard? Do you feel unloved? Many relationships go through ups and downs, and one is both feeling unhappy.
Here are a few of the signs that maybe it’s time to seek out some help.
When couples start to grow apart
One sign of an unhappy relationship is when couples start to grow apart. Often it is because they get stuck in a routine. Routines help make sure responsibilities are taken care of.
However, even though that is an important part of a household running smoothly, the relationship can be put on the back burner. Not paying any attention to the relationship as time goes on does affect the relationship negatively.
When couples seek attention outside of the relationship
Another sign of an unhappy relationship is one of both seeking attention outside of the relationship. This could lead to infidelity.
Before, attention leading to infidelity would mean the secrecy of meeting up with someone to have sex.
Today, infidelity could be seen as sexting over the phone, having zoom dates, or downloading apps where someone could have secret relationships with people in different states.
The way to cheat has become much easier and more accessible. It happens much more often, causing trouble in relationships.
If one person constantly feels as if they are annoyed
Yet another red flag when it comes to an unhappy relationship is if one person constantly feels as if they are annoyed or do not care about the majority of what their partner does or says.
If it comes to the point where there is constant eye-rolling, it is time to seek out help. This is a sign that the relationship might be in trouble.
A few tips on how to work on an unhappy marriage are as follows.
Have intimacy twice a week or more
The first tip is to have intimacy twice a week or more, starting with a 6-second kiss earlier in the day. This allows for physical connection to be nurtured.
Prioritize having date nights weekly
The second tip would be to prioritize having date nights weekly. This is important to build new memories and work on friendships.
Continue to work on communication
Lastly, a tip would be to continue to work on communication. This could be done by reading books, watching videos on relationships, or going to a relationship retreat.
This is important so that if the relationship gets in trouble again in the future, signs can be seen sooner and resolved quicker.
Joni Ogle, LCSW, CSAT
When two people are in a relationship, it’s crucial that they are both happy with the situation. If one person is unhappy, it can lead to all sorts of problems.
Here are some signs that your relationship may not be as happy as it could be:
You’re constantly arguing
If you find yourself constantly arguing with your partner, even about the littlest things, it’s a sign that something is wrong.
For a relationship to be happy, there needs to be mutual respect and understanding. If you’re always at each other’s throats, it’s likely that one or both of you are unhappy.
It’s hard to communicate
A happy relationship is built on communication. If you find it hard to talk to your partner about what’s going on in your life, it could be a sign that something is wrong.
Maybe you’re feeling unheard or misunderstood. Or, perhaps you’re just not compatible and need to find someone with whom you can communicate more easily.
You’re always criticizing each other
If all you ever do is criticize each other, it’s a sure sign that something is wrong.
You might not even realize you’re doing it, but if all you ever do is point out each other’s faults and compare yourselves to other couples, it’s likely that you’re both unhappy.
You’re not having fun anymore
One of the signs of an unhappy relationship is when you stop having fun together.
If you used to enjoy doing things together but now find yourselves bored or even resentful when you’re around each other, it’s because the happiness has gone out of the relationship.
If you have to force yourself to spend time with your partner, then something is definitely wrong.
You’re always thinking about leaving
If you find yourself constantly daydreaming about being single or with someone else, it’s a sign that you’re unhappy in your current relationship.
It doesn’t necessarily mean that you want to break up, but it does mean that you’re not happy with the way things are.
Unhappiness in a relationship is often a gradual thing, so if you find yourself thinking about leaving more and more often, it’s definitely time to take a step back and assess the situation.
Talk to your partner about your concerns
If you’re in an unhappy relationship, taking action and doing something about it is essential. Talk to your partner about your concerns and see if you can work together to make things better.
Maybe things just need a little adjustment, or perhaps you need to take some time apart. But if you’re constantly unhappy, it’s not worth staying in a situation that isn’t working.
Nicole Kleiman-Reck, MA, LMHC
Licensed Mental Health Counselor and Relationship Specialist, Choosing Therapy
You spend less and less time with one another
I believe that happiness in a relationship centers around trust, communication, and acceptance of differences. Signs of an unhappy relationship begin with spending less and less time with one another.
Many couples have absolutely no “constancy of contact,” which means they do not connect with one another on any level. This often marks the beginning of “roommate syndrome.”
There is no physical or sexual connection
Another big sign of relational unhappiness is when there is no physical or sexual connection of any kind. This would mean no touch, and the bigger problem is that this lack of intimacy is often not discussed.
What starts as a minor conflict will escalate to a bigger feeling of loneliness in the relationship, especially when one’s primary love language is physical touch.
You’re not supporting individual differences
Another sign of an unhappy relationship is not admiring differences, not expressing curiosity about differences, and not supporting individual differences within the relationship.
Yes, shared meaning and rituals of connection are essential, but it may be more important that each partner supports one other’s lifelong dreams.
Not being able to manage conflict through accepting, tolerating, and/or compromising on differences is a big sign of unhappiness in a relationship.
Dysregulation of one’s emotions during conflict adds to this unhappiness. While conflict is inevitable, how it is managed plays a large role in the strength of the relationship.
Not seeing a future together
Lastly, not seeing a future together is a big sign of an unhappy relationship. If there is no vision of a “We” in a couple’s future, partners will often slowly isolate themselves from one another, often to the point of no return.
It is very important to regularly evaluate your relationship in order to update “love maps” and have the confidence that the relationship can hold up during both wonderful and challenging times together.
Co-Founder and Certified Matchmaker, Select Date Society
The feeling of indifference
When you’re in an unhappy relationship, there will be clear signs that the relationship is off course. One of the biggest signs is a feeling of indifference.
The opposite of love is not hate; it is actually indifference.
If you are fighting in your relationship, you feel like there is still something worth fighting for. A feeling of indifference sets in when you have given up and are unhappy. This is a clear sign that you are in an unhappy relationship that is probably on the verge of ending.
An unhappy relationship will be a good reason for you to avoid going home. You may find yourself feeling a sense of gloom when you enter the house and may start staying late at work or the gum to avoid being in the same space with your partner.
You prioritize everything else over spending time with your partner
When you’re unhappy in your relationship, you may lose respect for each other.
Suddenly you find yourself saying things you could have never imagined saying to your partner when you were in love:
- You start holding grudges.
- Speaking disrespectfully to each other.
- Shutting down completely.
- Sometimes going days without speaking to one another.
You start fantasizing about being single
You imagine how much better life would be without your current partner:
- You may start to envy your single friends.
- You begin to spend more time hanging out with your single friends.
- Going out and looking for opportunities to flirt with someone new.
You may find that you have lost confidence, and you feel like you need to get your mojo back. When you are in an unhappy relationship, it can take a toll on your self-esteem.
You may find yourself feeling like you don’t deserve more than your current situation, and you may struggle with feelings of unworthiness.
Related: Why is Self Confidence Important?
Reach out to a trusted therapist or coach
If you are feeling stuck in an unhappy relationship, reach out to a trusted therapist or coach, either as an individual or as a couple.
The key to moving forward in a positive way is communication. You and your partner need to start communicating openly about what you are feeling and take action on improving or ending the relationship. Don’t stay in limbo!
Dr. Ketan Parmar
Psychiatrist and Mental Health Expert, ClinicSpots
Your partner makes you happy most of the time. However, it is crucial to recognize the signs of an unhappy relationship and take action before your partnership negatively impacts your life.
An unhappy partnership can be draining and have a negative impact on your self-esteem. An unhappy partnership also impacts your personal growth as well as future relationships.
If you are in a codependent or toxic relationship, it is essential to take action before things worsen. But how to know that you are in an unhappy relationship?
Here are some signs:
You constantly feel unhappy and frustrated
We all have bad days and moments of frustration. However, if you are constantly feeling unhappy and frustrated in your relationship, this is a sign that something is wrong.
If you can’t pinpoint the problems in your relationship, you are likely to blame yourself. You might start to feel that something is wrong with you or that you are incapable of having a happy relationship.
However, if the issues are within your relationship and not with you, then it is vital to recognize the signs of an unhappy relationship and take action.
You constantly fight about the same things
If you constantly fight about the same things, it might mean that you have unresolved issues in your relationship that you have not dealt with. It might also mean that you are trying to control each other or that you lack trust in your partner.
When you fight, it is important to try to pinpoint and address the real problem. However, if you find that you keep fighting about the same things, it might mean that there are bigger issues within your relationship that need to be addressed.
Your communication has broken down
Communication is important in every relationship. If you find that you and your partner don’t communicate or don’t communicate well, this is a sign that something is wrong with your relationship.
The way that you communicate with your partner can also provide insight into the bigger issues within your relationship.
If you find that you are constantly putting each other down or blaming each other, this can be a sign that there are underlying issues within your relationship.
Your relationship is filled with manipulation
A healthy relationship should consist of honesty, trust, respect, and love. A relationship filled with dishonesty, manipulation, and abuse indicates bigger issues at hand.
It is important to address these issues before things get even more out of hand.
When your relationship is filled with abuse, you should leave the relationship immediately. However, even if your relationship isn’t filled with abuse, it is important to recognize the signs of an unhappy relationship and take action.
Boredom has set in
If you are in a long-term relationship, you might feel bored at some point. However, if boredom has set in, it might mean that you have grown out of your relationship or are not challenged by it anymore.
It is important to address this as soon as you recognize that boredom has set in. If you don’t, you might end up resenting your partner, or your partner might resent you.
This can have a lasting impact on your relationship and can cause lasting damage.
There is no passion or romance in your relationship
Passion and romance are essential in every relationship. If you have lost passion and romance within your relationship, it might signify that there are more significant issues at hand.
It is important to address these issues before they lead to an even more serious problem. A relationship takes work and effort.
If you feel like your relationship has become effortless and that you don’t need to put effort into it anymore, it might be a sign that more significant issues need to be addressed.
There are many signs that can show that you are in an unhappy relationship. However, it is vital to recognize the signs of an unhappy relationship and take action before your partnership negatively impacts your life.
Steve Carleton, LCSW, CACIII
Executive Clinical Director, Gallus Detox
When it comes to our relationships, it can be difficult to notice when things start to go wrong. We might make excuses for our partner’s behavior or tell ourselves that things will eventually get better.
But the ability to recognize the early signs of an unhappy relationship is crucial if we want to avoid getting trapped in a toxic and damaging situation.
Here are three subtle signs that your relationship might be heading in the wrong direction:
You’re always walking on eggshells
Do you find yourself tiptoeing around your partner, careful not to say or do anything that might trigger their anger or upset them? If you’re constantly living in fear of your partner’s reaction, it’s a sign that your relationship is unhealthy.
There are many possible reasons why you’re walking on eggshells. Maybe your partner is prone to fits of anger, or perhaps they’ve been verbally or physically abusive in the past.
Whatever the reason, it’s important to remember that you should never have to walk on eggshells in a healthy relationship.
You’re not yourself around your partner
Do you find yourself editing your behavior when you’re around your partner?
They may be controlling how you dress, what you say, who you spend time with, or what you do for fun. Or maybe you’re just not comfortable being yourself around them.
Similarly, if you’re stifling your true self to please your partner or avoid their anger, it’s time to take a step back and assess whether this relationship is right for you.
Related: The Importance of Being Yourself
You’re not allowed to express your own opinion
In a healthy relationship, partners are able to share their thoughts and opinions without fear of judgment or retribution.
If one partner feels like they’re not allowed to express their own opinion, it can lead to a feeling of suppression, resentment, and frustration.
You may not always agree with your partner, but you should be able to express your own opinion without fear of repercussions.
Take a step back and assess your relationship
If you find yourself nodding along to any of these signs, take a step back and assess your relationship. A healthy relationship should make you feel happy, safe, and secure.
If you can talk to your partner openly and honestly about your concerns, that’s a good sign. But if your attempts to communicate are met with defensiveness or aggression, it’s time to reconsider whether this relationship is right for you.
Author | Associate Professor of Sociology, Missouri State University
Unhappy relationships take an enormous toll on us. Relationship dissatisfaction negatively impacts our overall well-being and mental health.
You avoid your partner
From my own research, folks reported that they knew the relationship was unhappy when they started looking for reasons to avoid their partner. They may find reasons to stay away from home, like working late or helping a friend.
Home no longer feels like a refuge or a place of rest and relaxation because your partner is there. Maybe you even relish the times you have the house to yourself because your partner is gone.
If your partner’s home, you may look for things to stay busy – like taking on extra chores – to avoid contact with your partner.
This can get to the point where the two of you live parallel lives:
- You share a home and maybe even a bank account, but you stop doing things together.
- You stop showing or receiving affection from your partner.
- You also stop sharing information with your partner, especially feelings and concerns.
You think about cheating on your partner
Another big sign of unhappiness in the relationship: looking to cheat. Folks said they started thinking about cheating on their partner more and more.
Other people became more attractive, and they found themselves considering nearly everyone they encountered as a potential partner. They started daydreaming about a different life without their partner and imagining how much happier they would be in that life.
Maybe you even feel jealous of your single friends. Some people said they used drugs or alcohol to avoid cheating because they were so unhappy.
You lack self-esteem
Another sign of an unhappy relationship is waning self-esteem. Your unhappiness with your relationship eats away at how you see yourself.
Senior Editor, Tandem
We all wish every day was sunshine and roses and every relationship was just as happy. You want to think of your significant other to the point where you can’t get “You are my sunshine” out of your head.
But, sometimes, happiness just isn’t there. In fact, unhappiness may have reared its ugly head, and you don’t know what to do. What are some signs of an unhappy relationship?
You avoid spending time with your partner
If you are just dating, maybe you cancel your next set of plans. Or if you are living with or married to the person, you might find things to do so that you don’t have to go home and spend time with your partner.
You constantly feel fatigued
Feeling tired can be due to many things, from lack of sleep to being sick to being sad. If you are in an unhappy relationship, you might always feel tired because you aren’t happy.
You frequently find fault with your mate
Instead of always looking for the good in your partner, you seem to be looking for the bad. You look for things to complain about them so that you can justify your next action, such as breaking up or leaving.
You fight a lot
It’s common to have disagreements with our partners. We can’t always agree on everything all the time. But if you seem to be fighting more often than not, this might signify that one or both of you are displeased.
You want to or have strayed
If you are in a committed relationship, and you have either thought about being unfaithful, or you have done so already, you may have done this due to you not being happy.
You fantasize about having a different life
Of course, we all fantasize. We wonder how great it would be to own a mansion, a fast car, and have millions of dollars. But there is a difference between fantasizing for fun and fantasizing because we aren’t happy.
There are many signs that you might be in an unhappy relationship. Some of these signs can be big, while others might seem minor. Even if you are currently in an unhappy relationship, that does not necessarily mean your relationship is over.
Maybe the two of you just need to reconnect. Or, if it’s deeper than that, there are therapists that specialize in couple’s counseling that can help you and your partner find happiness again.
And what if it turns out that your relationship is over? Remember that even if you have a relationship that fails, that does not mean you have failed. You live, you learn, and you get better as you go.
The first and most obvious sign is that there are few shared interests, activities, and goals. This can be a problem because it makes it harder to build intimacy and make commitments together.
If you and your partner have little in common outside of your relationship, you may find it hard to have deep conversations about life outside your relationship, even if they’re essential to you.
When neither person is willing or able to change them
When things aren’t working out, neither person is willing or able to change them. Even though both people want to make changes, their individual needs often take precedence over their partners’ concerns about making changes.
It’s not uncommon for one partner to feel like they are doing all the work while the other has nothing better to do than criticize or complain about their efforts.
A pattern of arguments seems to worsen over time
Finally, if you notice that a pattern of arguments and disagreements seems to worsen over time, then this could be a sign that hope is fading for both partners. Workable relationships require compromise and communication.
Frequently Asked Questions
What should I do if I think I’m in an unhappy relationship?
If you think you’re in an unhappy relationship, it’s important that you take action to improve your situation. Here are some steps you can take:
Talk to your partner: The first step is to talk to your partner about how you’re feeling. Try to have an open and honest conversation about your concerns and listen to what they have to say.
Seek professional help: If you’re having difficulty communicating with your partner or feel stuck in your relationship, you should seek the help of a therapist or counselor.
Take time for yourself: It’s important to prioritize your own needs and take time for yourself. This can help you gain a new perspective and figure out what you want from your relationship.
Consider ending the relationship: If you’ve tried to work on your relationship and still feel unhappy, it may be time to consider ending it. This can be a difficult decision, but it’s important to prioritize your own happiness and well-being.
Can an unhappy relationship be fixed?
It’s possible to improve an unhappy relationship, but it’ll take effort and commitment from both partners. Here are some steps you can take to try to improve your relationship:
Communicate openly: Make an effort to communicate openly and honestly with your partner. Try to listen to their concerns and look for solutions together.
Prioritize your relationship: Take time for your relationship and prioritize your partner. Show them that they are important to you and that you’re committed to improving your relationship.
Seek professional help: Consider seeing a therapist or counselor. A professional can help you resolve your issues and improve your communication and relationship.
Be patient: Improving a relationship takes time and effort. Be patient and committed to working on your relationship, even if you’re slow to make progress.
If you’re in an unhappy relationship, it’s important that you take action to improve your situation. Whether that means working on your relationship or ending it, put your own happiness and well-being first.
What should I do if my partner is unhappy but won’t talk about it?
It’s important to respect a person’s need for space but still express concern and care—make sure they know you’re there for them if they want to talk without pushing them into a conversation that makes them uncomfortable.
It’s also okay to accept help from professionals such as counselors, who may be able to offer advice on how to communicate better during this time.
Can an unhappy relationship have a negative impact on my mental health?
Yes, an unhappy relationship can have a negative impact on your mental health. Here are some ways an unhappy relationship can affect your mental health:
Depression: Being in an unhappy relationship can lead to feelings of sadness, hopelessness, and depression.
Anxiety: If you’re in an unhappy relationship, you may feel anxious or stressed about your relationship and its future.
Low self-esteem: Being in an unhappy relationship can also lead to low self-esteem or self-worth.
Emotional exhaustion: If you’re in an unhappy relationship, you may feel emotionally exhausted because you’re constantly trying to work on the relationship and meet your partner’s needs.
Physical symptoms: Being in an unhappy relationship can also lead to physical symptoms such as headaches, fatigue, or gastrointestinal problems.
If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms, it’s important to talk to a mental health professional. They can help you process your feelings and develop strategies to improve your mental health and well-being.
How can I help rekindle the spark in a dulling relationship?
It’s always a good idea to break out of your routine and invest time in something new—a spontaneous trip, fun activities, or just doing something you both enjoy provides an opportunity to reconnect with each other without the distractions of everyday life. Regular moments together, such as morning walks or weekly dates, are also a great way to bring some variety back into your lives!
What should I consider before making the decision to end an unhappy relationship?
Give yourself enough time to process your feelings—think about what led to this point, and try to understand why certain events went the way they did. This will clarify how you want to move forward with your life after this experience.
If necessary, you can also seek the support of your family/friends—their affirmation can help you make such an important decision!
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