I don’t know what it is about my life that has allowed me to witness so many unhappy relationships.
Maybe it’s because I’ve lived in a few different countries and met a lot of expats. Cross-cultural relationships can have a lot of challenges, that’s for sure.
Or maybe it’s because I used to work in the service industry and saw a lot of couples come in and out of various establishments.
But then again, maybe it’s just because there are quite a lot of unhappy relationships out there – more than we might like to think, anyway.
Whatever the reason, I’ve definitely seen my share and been in one or two as well.
And I know a lot of the warning signs.
Even though you might not want to admit it to yourself, here are seven signs you’re stuck in an unhappy relationship, and it’s making you lonely.
1) You argue all the time.
Now, this is a sign that everyone should recognize, but a lot of people will just shrug and say, “Hey, we don’t argue, like, all the time!”
OK, well, how much is too much?
I’m not just talking about big arguments here, either.
If you’re having big blowouts every day, of course, you’re going to notice and feel like something is seriously wrong.
But what about the small arguments? Bickering?
I know this happens when you have some underlying issue between you, and it makes you extra testy. Well, are you feeling extra testy most of the time?
Can you hardly say a thing without snapping at each other?
I knew a couple like that, and it was really hard to deal with.
He and I were buddies, and she was friends with my partner, so we’d spend a fair bit of time together. But after a while, we couldn’t really take it anymore.
Any tiny comment would be interpreted in the most negative way possible and replied to with spite and venom. And it was All. The. Time.
Do me a favor.
If you think even for a second this might be going on in your relationship, take one day and count.
I don’t know how much it is too much arguing, but you will.
2) You don’t argue anymore.
Well, that’s good, isn’t it?
Healthy relationships are composed of individuals who come together. They should necessarily bring different things to the table – opinions, skills, knowledge, etc. – and those things won’t always mesh.
Plus, you’re bound to have misunderstandings once in a while.
Together, these factors make disagreements positively unavoidable… unless you’re intentionally avoiding them.
If you’ve stopped arguing completely in your relationship, one of two things is going on.
Either you’ve both found incredible peace, serenity, and harmony with the universe, or you’ve basically given up. You know which one it is.
This is a big sign you’re stuck in an unhappy relationship. It means you’re at an impasse, and you’re no longer able to communicate effectively.
But rather than trying to work things out and reestablish lines of communication, you’ve both decided to just leave things alone.
If you no longer bother to argue, you’re effectively saying that you don’t care anymore, and that’s a really unhappy place to be in.
3) You don’t talk anymore like you used to do.
Putting an end to your arguing is a pretty clear admission of defeat in your relationship.
But one sign that’s not as clear is when you find that you’re not really getting into the sorts of conversations that you used to.
Not just interesting conversations or deep discussions of your tax return.
I’m talking about intimate conversations, the type that really brings you together.
Now, there are times in all relationships when changes happen. It’s pretty natural for communication to ebb and flow, especially when you’re both working and have kids or other serious responsibilities.
In healthy relationships, one partner will probably bring this up to the other and say, “Hey, we’re not really talking a lot these days.”
And that’s all they’ll need, just one partner to extend a hand out for the other to grab a hold of.
But if a hand is offered but not received, or if neither partner reaches out, things only grow colder. You get farther and farther away from that intimate connection, and that’s really what makes a relationship worth having.
And before you know it, you’re feeling lonely even when you’re together.
4) Sex? What sex?
I’m going to make it clear that sex is in no way necessary for every happy relationship.
There’s also no standard frequency with which you should be having sex, or your relationship is flawed. Actually, there’s no standard for everyone, but there’s probably one for you and your partner.
So the problem is simply not having enough sex or good enough quality sex to make both partners satisfied.
It’s hard, and this is really a whole other article because partners almost always want at least slightly different amounts of sex.
But you’ve probably managed to make that work in the past. One person wants a bit more, and the other would be fine with a bit less, but you still managed to find a balance.
If that balance is now lost, by which I mean there’s way less sex going on now, then you have to wonder what the cause is.
Sure, aging and familiarity have an effect, but that might not be why.
The most common cause for not having sex anymore is not feeling emotionally intimate with each other. Sex is a way to connect, but it also needs to be preceded by at least some connection first.
So, if you’re having way less sex and not feeling connected, you’re probably also feeling unhappy and lonely in your relationship.
5) You’re together but separate.
When I say that your lives are separate, I don’t mean that you’re doing the long-distance thing, though this can also be really tough.
What I mean is that as a couple, your lives should be interwoven but instead, they seem to just be running along parallel to each other.
All couples should have personal time and social time away from each other, but they should also come back together for some couple time. The partners also bring their experiences from outside the relationship back to the relationship to share, discuss, and learn from together.
When this doesn’t happen, you may very well feel like you’re living totally separate lives.
I had a relationship go this way once.
When we started out, we were inseparable, and things were hot and heavy. But over time, that really faded away.
I was still in college, and she was out working her first serious job. We hardly ever saw each other, and when we did, it felt more and more like we didn’t have much to say to each other.
It wasn’t anyone’s fault. We simply started to drift apart and focus on very different things to the point where we didn’t really feel connected anymore.
6) You can’t imagine a future together.
All relationships go through rough patches.
No matter how much you love each other, there will always be bumps in the road, and that’s to be expected.
But no matter how rough things get, if you can still see a light at the end of the tunnel, then you have a happy thing going on.
Sometimes, it can feel as though you’re stuck on some really big issues, but if you can imagine a happy future together, then at least you have hope. This means you’re not stuck in an unhappy relationship, just an unhappy period.
As long as you both feel this way, of course.
But if you close your eyes and try to imagine the relationship in five or ten years and you don’t see anything, you might really be in trouble.
If you can’t picture happier times ahead and a chance to enjoy each other’s company again, then it might be time to give up on the relationship.
7) You’re wishing you were single or with someone else.
Do need a clearer sign that you’re not happy in your relationship than daydreaming about being single?
Maybe your nights are filled with fantasies of someone else. It doesn’t even have to be someone real – it could just be a fantasy of a person who makes you feel happy and loved.
I’m not talking about the odd dream here and there.
If this is a common experience for you and you’re constantly thinking about or even wishing you were with someone else, it’s a sure sign that you’re not getting what you need out of the relationship.
You might recognize at least some of these seven signs you’re stuck in an unhappy relationship, and it’s making you lonely.
If you do, it’s time to do some serious thinking about whether it’s just temporary or if the situation is perhaps unsalvageable. Either way, you need to do something to make yourself happy.