You might think you’d know if you were unhappy.
After all, you just feel it right?
Well, not always. Emotions are complicated.
We don’t always want to face up to the truth. Sometimes we live with discontentment for so long, that it starts to feel normal.
So how do you know if your relationship is making you unhappy?
Here are some warning signs.
1) You often wonder if you’d be better off with someone else
It’s true that the grass has a habit of seeming greener on the other side.
So we may end up occasionally taking a look around and questioning if we would be better off in different circumstances.
But if this thought often comes to mind, ask yourself why.
It happened to me in my very first long-term relationship.
I didn’t feel particularly unhappy. But I would so frequently ponder to myself:
“Could I do better?”
That may sound harsh. But it wasn’t meant as a negative judgment of my boyfriend at the time.
By “better” I meant would I be more compatible with someone else and could my feelings be stronger?
The reality was, that this showed I had doubts. Not occasional ones, but constant ones.
With the benefit of hindsight I eventually discovered my answer was yes, I would be better off with someone else.
Because in the relationships that followed, I never asked myself this. I was more convinced we were a good match and more invested in our partnership.
2) You don’t feel like you can talk to them openly and honestly
Do you sit on things for the sake of an easy life?
There may be secrets you keep because you know they wouldn’t understand.
It feels easier to keep your mouth shut than say something which will only lead to an argument.
That may mean that relationship complaints and issues get swept under the rug rather than dealt with.
But it’s also a sign of denial.
You shouldn’t feel like you’re always walking on eggshells. That’s a stressful way to have to live.
If you can’t express yourself, feel heard, or speak without fear of the repercussions then you may feel like your partner doesn’t really understand you.
3) You don’t feel understood
If your partner doesn’t understand you then chances are you feel quite lonely. Because loneliness isn’t about being alone, it’s about feeling disconnected from people around you.
That’s why you can spend time with someone 24-7 and still feel lonely.
If you don’t feel like your other half gets you, this can be incredibly isolating.
Perhaps you feel like you’re on very different wavelengths. They struggle to see your point of view. You have totally different tastes and takes on the world.
Ultimately, despite the feelings you have for them, you know that you are very different people.
Sometimes our differences can complement one another. But not when it compromises our own values.
In order to deeply connect, we need to feel understood.
4) You can’t be your true self
Particularly in the early stages of a budding romance, it’s pretty common to put on a few airs and graces.
We want to impress, so we intentionally show up as our best selves who are eager to please.
But eventually, as we relax into things, we reveal more of who we really are — quirks and all.
No one is perfect, and we shouldn’t feel like we have to be within our relationship.
If it’s going to work, we must feel like we are accepted for who we truly are.
That’s going to mean your partner has to like you for you.
If you always feel like you’re hiding are you genuinely happy?
5) Your relationship doesn’t feel safe or secure
Let’s start with a caveat:
There’s a big difference between a relationship that makes you feel insecure and projecting your existing insecurities into your relationship.
It’s important we all take ownership of our own emotions.
If you have some self-esteem issues you need to work on, no matter what your partner does it may never be enough to make you feel safe.
But we’re talking about behavior from your partner that is creating a lack of security.
- Every disagreement you have leads to threats of breaking up
- Inappropriate behavior like infidelity, flirting with other people or intentionally trying to make you jealous
- They refuse to talk about the future with you or discuss their feelings for you
6) You stay because you’re scared of the unknown
Better the devil you know, right?
The world is full of couples who stay together out of a mixture of convenience and fear.
I think we all experience that panic after a breakup that falsely tells us we’ll never find love again.
It can be a scary thought.
What if I never meet someone else?
What if I don’t realize what I’ve got until it’s gone?
That fear mentality can keep us trapped in unhappy relationships. Not out of love, but out of worry that this is as good as it may get.
That’s why it’s always a good idea to check in with our motivations and ask what feelings are driving our decisions.
7) You feel unappreciated
The longer you’ve been with someone the more you have to be vigilant for this one. Because with familiarity often comes complacency.
Feeling unappreciated in your relationship is insidious and can lead to so many problems.
We all want to feel like we’re valued. That means having a partner who:
- Offers you praise and compliments to show they see your best qualities
- Shows gratitude when you do things for them
- Offers affection to make you feel loved
- Listens to you
- Celebrates your wins
- Prioritizes you
- Keeps their word and their promises to you
If you feel dismissed or ignored in your partnership you may well harbor resentment.
When you take an honest look at your partnership, things feel unbalanced. You are doing way too much of the physical or emotional labor.
8) Your partner is non-stop negative
We all have bad days. Part of being in a relationship is supporting each other through those times.
But if your partner has a negative outlook on life, that’s bound to impact on you.
Pessimism can be a heavy energy to be around.
When they are in one of their moods, it casts a dark cloud on everything in your life too.
You feel drained and depleted from their complaining. Their neigh saying is starting to rub off on you and you feel down because of it.
Stop and ask yourself:
Does your partner’s mood define how well your day goes?
9) You have a better time when they’re not around
You don’t spend much time together anymore, and if you’re honest, you kinda like it that way.
Yes, time apart is healthy in a relationship.
That means pursuing your own interests, having your own friends, and enjoying solo activities.
These things are not only a positive sign of independence, it can give you more things to talk about when you are together.
But if you notice that all your fun happens when they’re not there, you have a problem.
Do you still have fun together? Are there things you enjoy doing with one another?
Or do they just feel like a part of the furniture? Perhaps, you are more bored than you realize.
10) You are really bored
Once the initial thrill of the honeymoon phase dies down we do enter into a more stable stage in our relationship.
This isn’t always as passion-filled or characterized by such extreme emotions.
What can I say, hormones have a powerful effect on us, but they do die down eventually.
So it’s natural to enter a more settled and committed phase, that doesn’t have quite the same intensity.
But your relationship should still have times of joy, fun, laughter, and spontaneity.
You should still be actively making memories together, spending quality time with one another, and enjoying yourselves.
Of course, these times don’t magically happen on their own. You both need to put the work into your relationship.
If you are already doing that work, yet you still find yourself feeling pretty bored and uninspired, your partner may not be right for you.
It’s all about having fair expectations in a relationship
Here’s the thing:
As we’ve just highlighted, relationships take work. They need energy, time, and effort to stay alive.
They are also not a non-stop hoot, they will always ebb and flow. Some days you are bound to feel a bit disenchanted.
We cannot expect a relationship to constantly keep us entertained. Nor is our partner there to “make us happy”.
Too many of us have unrealistic expectations of what love should do. So we end up passing the buck of our own happiness to another person. But sadly, the cliches are true — happiness is an inside job.
But that’s not to say that the quality of your relationship isn’t significant in whether you feel happy or not. Because many people stay in unhappy partnerships when they deserve better.
Real romance might not be a fairytale, but you absolutely should expect it to meet certain needs and wants.
If these aren’t being met, and you recognize one too many signs on our list it’s time to have a talk with your partner.