Couples who appear happy but are actually miserable tend to display these 9 subtle behaviors

Some couples are so good at faking happiness.

That’s why we get surprised when, just weeks after we saw them being cute together, we hear news that they’ve already broken up.

We go “Huh? But they were so happy!”

Well, they weren’t, apparently!

We just didn’t see the signs because they’re so subtle.

Want to know if a couple you know is only pretending to be happy? 

Here are 9 subtle behaviors often displayed by couples who appear happy but are actually miserable.

1) They act a little too happy

There’s just something off about how happy they are. 

They’re a little too sweet.

They’re a little too enthusiastic.

They smile a little too wide.

And they laugh a little too hard at a joke that isn’t even funny.

You see, when we’re just putting on a show, we tend to exaggerate in our attempt to convince others we’re not only pretending.

So if they act a bit strange, they’re probably trying their damndest to show you how “happy” they are so you won’t suspect a thing.

2) They don’t respond to each other’s “bids”

According to John Gottman, couples who respond to each other’s “bids” are the ones least likely to divorce.

What are bids?

These are verbal and nonverbal attempts that one partner makes to connect with the other.

When you share a meme, for example, your partner recognizes that you’re throwing a bid—that it’s your way to connect and bond as a couple.

And so even if they’re not a fan of memes, they’d respond to your bid by reacting to it.

Couples who are only pretending to be happy don’t give a damn about these bids. In fact, they’d deliberately ignore them to hurt each other.

So next time you’re with a couple, pay attention to how they react to bids. It tells a lot about their relationship.

3) They avoid eye contact

Couples who are in love look at each other fondly, and often.

They do this subconsciously and consciously.

Subconsciously because we simply love to look at the people we love. And so even if they’re meters away from us, we can’t help but glance at them from time to time.

Eye contact becomes a conscious action if it’s used to communicate.

The couples who are happy are usually in sync. They would know what the other is feeling or trying to say simply by reading their eyes.

So if a couple seems happy and yet, one or both of them doesn’t look the other in the eye?

It could be a sign that they’re just putting on a show and that they’re actually miserable behind the curtain.

4) They don’t defend each other around others

When someone argues with their partner about an issue they’re passionate about, they don’t take their side.

In fact, you can see them glowing as if they find pleasure that someone’s making their partner miserable.

And when their partner glances at them as if to say “Please side with me. We’re a team, right?”, they act like they didn’t notice.

In fact, they’d side with the other person and say something like “Actually, he has a point.”

While it’s fine to not agree with your partner, it’s actually a sign a couple is miserable if they just want to side with their partner’s opponent to piss them off.

5) They throw hurtful “jokes” at each other

Ah yes. Passive-aggressive jokes

This is the favorite of miserable couples. They can hurt their partner with their words without getting crucified for it. After all, a joke is “just a joke”, right?

They’d smile and act sweet, but then they’d go “This banana is as limp as your banana. HAHAHA.”

Or “Yeah, I’ll let you drive this time because it’s the only thing you’re good at. HAHA.”


When a couple uses a lot of sarcasm and passive-aggression—and you can tell one or both of them are not taking them well—then they’re likely going to split up even if they say “I love you” 50 times a day.

6) They have so many vacations

This is based on my personal experience.

I was in a toxic relationship for eleven years. We hated each other during the last three but we tried to look happy for our child (and friends and family).

And what’s interesting is that in those last three miserable years, we were traveling like we’re actually a happy couple.

I guess we were so desperate to fix our relationship that we thought travel could make things better. 

What’s sad is that even after our trips, we still fought and hated each other to the core. 

People who know we’re traveling thought our relationship was getting stronger. But it’s actually the complete opposite.

7) They’re uneasy with silence

When I was so miserable with my relationship, I didn’t like silence—especially when we’re with other people.

It just enhances the awkwardness and I worry that people around us would suspect that we’re in fact unhappy.

So I always say something or encourage them to say something…that way, we’d be focused on other things instead of each other.

So if you notice that a couple seems a little awkward when it’s oh so quiet, pay extra close attention. 

They might actually not be as happy as they pretend to be.

8) They (subtly) flirt with other people

They won’t stare at their partner, but they’ll lock eyes with someone else they find cute. 

They’d also get a little too friendly, a little too fun.

Of course, they’ll make sure it will be so subtle so others won’t suspect a thing. After all, they’d like others to believe they’re still in love with their partner.

Why do they do this?

Well, I’ll try to share my experience.

I’m embarrassed to tell you that I was like this a long time ago.

I was so miserable in my relationship that I wanted to FEEL free—to just feel like my partner doesn’t own me. 

I didn’t cheat, though. I flirted in a wholesome way.

I felt like I needed it.

I’ve been miserable for so long that I just wanted to break away from my chains.

9) They don’t go out of their way to impress each other’s friends and families

When I was still in love with my ex, I tried hard to be liked by his family and friends.

I gave them gifts and sent them messages.

I was nice and agreeable—the perfect girl!

I was also nervous as heck every time I talked to them because I desperately wanted them to like me.

But when our relationship crumbled, I didn’t give a f*ck. 

When my partner had to meet his family and friends, I told him I’d be happy if he goes without me. 

But when my presence was expected and I can’t say “No”, I tried to keep interactions short. I didn’t even bother to give anyone any compliment!


Because there’s no point in investing in these relationships when I know they won’t be in my future anyway.

Last words

So…do you think a couple is just pretending to be happy?

Be compassionate.

The best thing you can do is be graceful. Don’t shame them by letting them feel that you know something’s up.

Most of the time, we pretend to be happy because we simply want to save face. So don’t be a assh*le by saying “Hey, are you two okay? It seems like you’re just pretending to be happy.”

It’s none of your business so let them be.

But do reach out and be a genuine friend. Make them feel that you’re there for them if you need them, no matter what. 

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Tina Fey

I'm Tina Fey, the founder of the blog Love Connection. I've extremely passionate about sharing relationship advice. I've studied psychology and have my Masters in marital, family, and relationship counseling. I hope with all my heart to help you improve your relationships, and I hope that even if one thing I write helps you, it means more to me than just about anything else in the world. Check out my blog Love Connection, and if you want to get in touch with me, hit me up on Twitter

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