10 signs you’re in a relationship with someone who is secretly unhappy

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I spent 6 months not being aware that my (ex) partner was incredibly unhappy. He was good at hiding it. 

As are most people. 

But looking back now, there were a few signs that something was up. 

Even though our relationship continued plodding along, looking normal on the surface, I should have noticed the smaller indications that he wasn’t happy deep down. 

Perhaps you’re also picking up on such details, and you’re wondering what they mean…

If so, you’re in the right place. Here are 10 signs you’re in a relationship with someone who is secretly unhappy:

1) They’re emotionally distant

In the beginning, you both couldn’t get enough of each other. 

Conversations flowed effortlessly, and you felt emotionally connected. You felt like you knew them and that they were always open and honest with you. 

But if you’ve noticed that recently, all your conversations have turned surface level, it’s not a good sign.

“How was your day?” “Fine.” End of discussion. It’s like pulling teeth to get them to open up. 

And forget about those long heart-to-heart chats that used to stretch into the night.

Why? Because emotional distance is a classic sign of unhappiness. They’re building walls around their feelings.

This is the first sign to look out for – it may or may not have anything to do with you, but it’s a clear sign that they’re unhappy about something. As a result, the following will happen:

2) There’s reduced communication or stonewalling

You’d text constantly, discuss pizza topics and Netflix series in depth, and it seemed like the conversation would never end. 

But now? Now it’s like talking to a brick wall

One-word answers. Avoided conversations. Complete radio silence at times.

Here’s the thing – communication is the backbone of any relationship. 

I’ve been there before, trying to decipher the meaning behind a single “Okay” or “Fine.” 

So I get how draining it can be. In one of my past relationships, I noticed that as the emotional connection faded, our text messages became sparse and robotic. 

It felt like I was trying to decode a message every time he responded, searching for the emotion or intent that wasn’t there.

Take note of this – reduced communication isn’t just about fewer words. It’s often a protective mechanism, a way of avoiding deeper issues that your partner isn’t ready to face.

3) They’re disinterested in future plans

Once upon a time, planning a weekend getaway or even just a simple movie night was exciting for both of you. 

You’d have discussions, brainstorm ideas, and genuinely look forward to spending time together. 

Lately, though, things have changed. When you bring up future plans:

  • They’re vague or noncommittal
  • They avoid giving a straight answer
  • They change the subject quickly

What’s going on here? 

If your partner is dodging discussions about the future or even just planning a simple date, it’s not a great sign. 

A person who is genuinely happy in their relationship will usually jump at the chance to create new memories together. 

On the flip side, a disinterest in future plans could indicate underlying unhappiness or uncertainty about the relationship itself.

4) There’s an absence of intimacy

When was the last time you were physically close with each other? I’m not just talking sex, but cuddling, holding hands, kissing – these things all matter. 

And when they disappear, it’s usually a sign that someone in the relationship is withdrawing. 

I had a friend who went through this exact situation. 

He and his partner went from being inseparable to barely touching or talking in a matter of months. 

They co-existed under the same roof but lived separate lives. 

He finally mustered the courage to bring it up, and that’s when they started addressing the unhappiness in their relationship.

So if you can relate to this, don’t brush it off as you’re both “tired” or that this is “normal” in a relationship. It isn’t.

5) They’re frequently irritable or short-tempered

Mood swings. They’re horrible to deal with. 

Imagine this: You casually mention that you forgot to pick up groceries, and suddenly, it’s like you’ve lit a fuse.

Your partner’s mood shifts from calm to irritated in a nanosecond. It seems like these sudden mood swings are becoming more frequent. 

Simple, innocent comments or mistakes that would have been laughed off before now turn into heated arguments or cold silences.

You’ve probably found yourself tiptoeing around, desperate not to rock the boat. 

But the truth is, when someone is harboring inner unhappiness, they often become a pressure cooker of emotions. 

The smallest things can set them off because they’re already on edge. 

They might not even realize they’re doing it, but their irritability or short temper becomes increasingly noticeable to those around them, especially you. 

Take this as a sign that you both need to have a deep, honest conversation. This might be hard, though, if they’re doing the following: 

6) They’re constantly busy or distracted

Something’s changed. 

Your partner, who used to prioritize spending quality time with you, suddenly has an overflowing schedule.

Work deadlines, gym sessions, social commitments—you name it. It’s like they’re intentionally filling their calendar to the brim, leaving little to no room for couple time.

So, why are they doing this?

Well, when someone’s unhappy, they often throw themselves into other activities as a distraction

Think of it as a coping mechanism that allows them to avoid confronting the issues in the relationship, or perhaps their personal dissatisfaction. 

They’re essentially trying to hide from the real issue here – their unhappiness. 

7) They’re neglecting self-care and personal growth

Another sign you’re in a relationship with someone who is secretly unhappy is when you notice a significant change in their self-care routines.

Maybe they’ve stopped:

  • Their usual hobbies, such as painting, running, playing guitar 
  • Looking after their health – they no longer groom themselves or work out. You notice them eating more and more junk food 
  • Enjoying their work or trying to progress with the goals they had set

I noticed this with my ex. He used to love hiking, going out for dinner, and catching up with friends when we weren’t together. 

But over time, that all changed. When I’d ask if he wanted to go for a walk or grab some food, he’d say, “Nah, can’t be bothered.” 

Take this as a serious sign. 

Your partner might not be displaying their unhappiness in an obvious way, but a lack of self-care shows there’s a deeper problem worth exploring. 

8) Their body language is telling

And finally, words can deceive, but body language rarely lies. 

Have you noticed they no longer make eye contact during serious conversations? 

Or maybe they’re crossing their arms more, a defensive posture. 

It could even be as subtle as a lack of smiles or the absence of that warm, open demeanor they used to have.

You see, body language is a powerful communicator of emotions, often revealing what someone is feeling even when they’re not saying it. 

So subtle changes in your partner’s physical expressions and mannerisms can be a dead giveaway that something is amiss.

Ultimately, if you’ve noticed the signs listed, there’s definitely something wrong. Be patient, be willing to hear them out, and see if you can work towards a solution together. 

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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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