We don’t suddenly wake up one day and decide we’re in the wrong relationship.
You don’t fall out of love in an instant.
The reality is that relationship problems grow over time. As they do, feelings change and we become increasingly unhappy.
The extra kicker is that it can happen so slowly, that you don’t always notice it until it’s too late.
But before you even admit it to yourself or your partner you’ve got problems, there are telltale signs to watch out for.
People in unhappy relationships usually display these 8 behaviors without realizing it.
1) Snapping more often
Frustrations have a habit of rising when we can’t let them out.
It’s a bit like a pressure cooker.
You might be able to keep a lid on it for a while, but eventually, it’s going to need to be released.
Even if you’re not having full-blown rows, you may find yourself bickering a lot more.
Suddenly, every single thing your partner says or does just annoys the hell out of you.
These are probably the exact same habits and quirks that you found endearing about them in the beginning. Now you’re giving them side daggers over it.
It’s a sign of frayed patience and irritation.
That’s not always about your partner directly, it can simply be about the unsatisfying situation in general.
But being testy with one another is a sign that someone (or both of you) isn’t really happy but doesn’t want to directly address it.
As you battle with these emotions they can manifest in nitpicking at a partner. Everything they do seems to wind you up, and you can’t hide it.
2) Becoming increasingly negative (about the relationship and your partner)
If you’re honest, the overall vibe of your relationship has gotten frostier.
There is a negative energy that you can’t seem to shake.
Of course, that’s not helped by the passive-aggressive digs, moodiness, and bickering that we just mentioned.
But it’s more than that.
It’s showing up through:
- Increased criticism of the things each other says and does
- A subtle belittling of your partner’s thoughts and opinions
- An increasing lack of appreciation for your partner
It’s not that you want to take them for granted. But the truth is you’re not feeling particularly grateful for them recently.
And that shows.
You’re no longer doing and saying things that make each other feel appreciated.
You might sense that there is diminishing respect between you.
When this happens, things can go as far as:
- Totally disregarding each other’s feelings, opinions, or boundaries
- Name-calling or insults
- Being dismissive of a partner’s needs or desires and seeing them as unimportant.
3) Eyeing up other people
When you’re loved up, you tend to find you only have eyes for that person.
That doesn’t mean you can’t appreciate someone else is good-looking. But you just don’t have any real desire or interest in others.
But when you’re no longer satisfied at home, that’s when wandering eyes kick in.
That’s not to say you’d ever act on it.
But I distinctly remember the moment it dawned on me that I had some serious problems in my last relationship.
To me, my ex was the most handsome guy I’d ever been with. He was undeniably a very beautiful man.
Yet I’d started to see him differently as the problems between us mounted. And as my attraction towards him dwindled, I realized I had begun window shopping for other guys.
I started to see good-looking men around me more. Of course, they’d always been there, but the difference was that now I noticed them.
I was even daydreaming to myself about dating other people.
Even though these are internal behaviors and harder to spot in someone else, there can also be some external clues.
Things like suddenly making more of an effort with your appearance, or even becoming increasingly flirty with other people.
These behaviors can creep in without realizing it when you’re subconsciously on the lookout for a replacement beau.
4) Avoiding quality time together
It’s a strategy plenty of people employ to avoid their feelings:
When you fill your time with activities, it means you don’t have to stop and think.
When you deep down already know you’re not happy, too much time alone with your thoughts feels like bad news.
Yet all this busyness is unlikely to involve your partner.
Even if you see each other often, perhaps because you live together, the time you share no longer feels quality.
You may notice:
- A complete lack of interest in doing shared activities or hobbies
- Excuses are made over why you can’t spend as much time together
- Your time together lacks depth with only superficial conversation
- You increasingly opt to be alone instead of together
As we’ll see next, there’s also a chance you may be prioritizing your own pursuits over spending time as a couple.
5) A shift in priorities
Remember when you first got together?
Most likely being with them was the highlight of your day.
Because of that, they quickly rose up the ranks of your priority list.
It’s normal that when things settle down, priorities shift again. But our other half should still remain near the top.
That’s why if they drop way down, it’s a sneaky sign they’re just not as important as they once were.
When this happens, behavior can change in various ways:
- Constantly prioritizing personal needs over the needs of the relationship
- Neglecting the relationship in favor of other commitments
- Shifting focus away from any shared goals and interests
- Becoming much vaguer and wishy-washy about future plans
- Being “too busy” to do things together
6) Being emotionally distant
At least when you’re arguing, it’s easier to spot you’ve got relationship issues.
That’s why one of the most insidious killers of relationships is emotional distance.
How often have we heard it said at the end of a relationship:
“We just drifted apart”.
Even though it sounds like it just happened, this drifting does have signs if you look out for it.
It starts with growing apart emotionally. You sense decreased intimacy and connection between you.
That shows up as sharing less of your thoughts, feelings, and experiences with one another.
There seems a reluctance to discuss important relationship matters or an avoidance of tricky conversations.
But over time, distance can turn into withdrawal.
When that happens, there is a stronger sense of emotional detachment or numbness.
With it comes a failure to express your emotions and concerns openly and honestly. Instead, feelings are suppressed and vulnerability is avoided.
There may also be an active withdrawal of affection and love, whether that is physical or emotional (or both!).
7) Keeping things to yourself
Without even being aware of it, there may be far more secrecy in your relationship.
That’s not to say affairs or cheating is going on. The increase in secrecy is far more subtle than that, which is why it can go unnoticed.
We’re all entitled to our privacy, even in a relationship. But if you’re keeping things from one another, you have to ask yourself why.
Why suddenly don’t you feel inclined to share parts of yourself or certain events from your day?
It may start out quite innocently.
You’re not intentionally lying or withholding, you just don’t bother telling each other certain things.
You may tell yourself that most of these details are inconsequential. But they do point to a growing gap in intimacy.
Even if there’s not a lack of trust, there is a lack of total transparency.
8) A lack of support
It can feel easier to spot the sudden appearance of certain behaviors compared to the absence of certain behaviors.
For example, you’re more likely to notice that your partner has gotten increasingly moody with you.
But when they stop doing something they once did, it can take longer to notice.
Relationships are partnerships. That means being there for one another and providing a crutch to lean on.
Being less supportive is one of those behaviors we can start to display when a relationship goes downhill, without even realizing it.
We’re talking about things like:
- Poor emotional or practical support for each other
- A disinterest in your partner’s goals, dreams, or ambitions
- Not being there or providing comfort during challenging times
It’s another clue that a partner isn’t as invested in the relationship anymore.
Relationships go through ups and downs
Of course, it depends on the extent of the problems you face and just how unhappy your relationship is. It’s always better to let go of toxic relationships rather than cling on.
But recognizing some of these signs certainly doesn’t mean your relationship is doomed. It may just need some TLC.
Identifying that one of you isn’t happy is the first step towards addressing the underlying issues.
By encouraging more open communication and working on your emotional connection, you can come together to rebuild a healthy and fulfilling partnership.