I was miserable in my last relationship.
Not only was I unhappy, I was trying my best to hide my unhappiness—from my kid, from our friends, and even from my partner.
So when my ex and I finally broke up, I asked my friends if they sensed that I was unhappy.
“Of course!”, they all said.
Bummer. I guess I wasn’t such a good actor.
Anyway, I asked them how they knew, and they gave me a long list of things I did.
And they must be right because those are the same behaviors I noticed in other couples who ended up confessing that they’re unhappy.
If you suspect that your mother, sister, friend—or gee, your own girlfriend—is unhappy in their relationship, it’s a good idea to find out so you can support them better.
Here are some subtle behaviors of women who are unhappy in their relationship but won’t admit it.
1) They hate it when people “pry” into their personal life
I remember I had a fight with my best friend when we had our yearly catch up. Ugh, I’m still ashamed of it up to this day.
She just asked me a simple question: “How’s your relationship?”
I replied a quick “We’re okay” and I was eager to move on to another topic.
But then she paused and decided to dig deeper. She asked “You’ve been together for eight years now. No plans of getting married?”
And you know what, I got angry. ANGRY.
I lashed out and said “I get it. You’re the one in a happy relationship and I’m not.”
Phew. Pretty intense, amirite?
She didn’t commit any major offense. In fact, she didn’t commit any offense at all. I was just…miserable.
Her questions felt like personal attacks because she was making me face the reality that I don’t ever want to face.
So…if someone gets uncomfortable when you ask them about their relationship—especially if they used to be an open book—it’s a sign that they might be unhappy.
Change the topic because it might not be something they want to deal with.
2) They drown themselves in work
Some people become workaholics simply because they’re ambitious.
And some drown themselves in work because they want to escape something—in this case, their relationship.
I was very ambitious and hardworking when I was with my ex. Not only did I work 9-5, I pursued my hobbies like my life depended on them (because it kinda did).
I figured, well…if I am not lucky in the relationship department, I should just work on myself and my career instead.
Do you know someone who’s always busy?
They’re probably trying to escape from their relationship. Or you know, if they’re like me, they’re probably working hard to earn more so they can be free.
So don’t be jealous of people who are pursuing their passions and career like they’re rockstars. Some of them might actually be in unhappy relationships.
3) They double down on self-care
They get more massages, spend more time in the shower, and they buy stuff that can make them feel like a kween.
They also focus on therapy and healing and all kinds of transcendental things.
You know why?
Because they NEED it.
They need it to survive one more day dealing with an unhappy relationship.
They need it so they can recover from all the toxicity.
They need it to feel loved.
So if someone indulges in these things, stay out of their business!
Don’t judge them for taking self-care to the extreme. You have no idea what they’re going through.
4) They find reasons not to go home early
Not only do they work hard, they party hard, too.
Or if they’re not the kind who enjoys parties, they often stop by their friends house for some chit chat.
Some would even just stay in the car just a bit longer even if they’re already home.
If you’re in a happy relationship, you’d be excited to be with your partner after a long day of being away from one another.
You’d want to cuddle them, tickle them, and ask them about their day.
So if you notice someone who finds reasons to not go home, chances are that they’re unhappy in their relationship.
5) They enjoy flirting around
They used to be loyal, but now—lo and behold! They’re flirting like it’s their job.
They don’t overdo it of course, because they care about their partner and how others see them, after all.
They’d smile back at the cute waiter, take the free drink, and even leave their phone number. But that’s all.
They have integrity but they just want to feel alive.
And they just want to feel adored.
And they just want to feel hopeful again.
When other people like them, it reminds them that anything can still happen…that they can still be in a happy relationship if only they can get out of their current one.
6) They rarely talk about their partner
Once upon a time, their partner was the only thing they ever talked about.
“I’m so lucky to have Josh. He prepares our breakfast every single day!”
“ OMG, do you know that Henry loves chess? So sexy, right?”
They even talked non-stop about the many reasons why their partner is the one (which makes everyone cringe but they don’t care).
They’d rather talk about the ants on the wall than about their partner.
And you might go “Uhh, but what if it’s just because the honeymoon phase is over?”
Let me tell you—even if you’ve been married for a century, if you’re still happy in your relationship, you WILL talk about your partner.
It will be effortless and natural because they’re always on your mind and your heart.
7) They’re bitter
Love songs and romantic movies? Cringe.
Weddings and babies? Eye roll.
They’d then start talking about how marriage is just a useless institution and how kids are bad for the planet.
They’d say things like “All couples break up” or “There’s no such thing as forever.”
They’ve slowly become the grinch.
They will say they’re fine with their relationship when you ask them…but their bitterness shows they’re anything but.
8) They are uncomfortable hanging out with happy couples
They slowly stop hanging out with happy couples.
They’d cancel double dates and make excuses not to go.
Because they don’t want to be always reminded of their unhappiness!
To them, everytime a couple says or does cute things, it’s like they’re being punched in the gut.
It’s as if people are telling them “Here, look at us. This is what happiness looks like!”
I was like this.
Observing cute couples used to break my heart. It made me pity myself because it makes me wonder “Why can’t I have that kind of love? Don’t I deserve to be happy?”
Today, I’m happy to report that I’m with someone who I really love—who I can be cute with! And looking at happy couples doesn’t make me sad anymore.
9) They enjoy hearing about other couples’ drama
While many of us enjoy these types of gossip, women who are unhappy in their relationship are not only entertained—they’re RELIEVED.
Hearing about other people’s conflict is their therapy.
They’re so eager to listen to every word. Their eyes would light up. They might even grin from ear to ear.
We celebrate other people’s miseries when we’re miserable. It makes us think “Phew, I thought I had it bad. Turns out, others are more miserable than me! HAHAHA”
Again, I can relate.
God, I feel so guilty finding pleasure in other people’s misery… but I NEEDED it! I desperately needed to know that I’m not alone.
10) They feel happier when their partner is away
When their partner is out of town, do they act like an animal out of its cage?
When their partner walks out the door, do they exhale and act more relaxed?
Well, they’re probably unhappy in their relationship even if they act happy.
And the thing is that…they might not even be aware of it!
When you’re in a happy relationship, you’d miss your partner even if you have daily squabbles, even if you’ve been together for decades, and even if you get bored with them sometimes.
That’s because in a healthy and loving relationship, your partner feels like home…and we’re away from them, well, you get homesick.
If someone doesn’t miss their partner even if they’ve been away for weeks, they’re probably unhappy with their relationship.
Being unhappy is one thing.
But having to pretend you’re happy when you’re obviously not is soul-crushing.
If you sense that someone is in an unhappy relationship, be there for them. But try your best to maintain some distance.
Don’t lecture them on how to get out of their relationship.
Don’t pressure them to tell you everything.
Most of all—don’t shame them for how they feel.
For now, just be there for them and make them feel supported.
One day, they’ll surprise you.
They’ll be able to crawl out of their misery…or you know, fix their relationship (because yes, let’s not forget that that option exists!).