When you've been with someone for a long time, you often get so used to being together that you can't stomach the thought of ever breaking up, regardless of the quality of your relationship. While reaching a level of intimacy is a beautiful thing, becoming deeply attached to your partner can sometimes cloud our judgment, making it hard to notice the are elements of your relationship that need some honest attention. For example, maybe your SO's lack of ambition is starting to wear on your home life, but you can't bring yourself to talk about it with them. Or perhaps their increasing interest in catching up with old friends (and exes) on social media is making you feel unsteady, but you're too nervous to lay it all out on the table.
The sad fact is that there are a lot of couples out there who stay together even though they're unhappy. Sometimes, unhappy couples are hanging in there for their kids' sake — according to a study from the National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago, only 60 percent of married couples in 2014 reported being happy together. However, there are also plenty of unhappy couples out there who aren't married or co-parenting. There are all kinds of reasons unhappy long-term couples stick it out; but if you think you might be in one of them, it's worth remembering that staying in a miserable relationship is never worth it, no matter your reasoning may be.
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Need some help figuring out if you should reconsider your romantic situation? Here are 12 signs you're unhappy in your relationship.
1. You're Constantly Looking At Other People As Potential Partners
We're only human, so no matter how happy we are with our partner, we will sometimes notice someone else attractive. But this shouldn't be something that's happening on the regular — and if it is, you're not as stoked about being in this coupledom as you might think you are. Noticing physical beauty in another person is one thing; but constantly imagining what life would be like waking up next to that cute barista instead of your SO is an indication that your home life isn't so solid.
2. Your Heart Sinks When Your Partner Calls Or Texts You
There should be some kind of pleasant feeling when your partner calls you unexpectedly during the day — or, at the very least, you shouldn't be experiencing any negative emotions when you see their name pop up on your phone. If you experience an immediate aversion to receiving a call or text from them, that means you probably don't want to speak to them at all — and there's nothing loving or affectionate about that.
3. You Rarely Initiate Sex These Days
Like Samantha used to say on HBO's Sex and the City, sex is a pretty good barometer to judge the state of your relationship. Not ever wanting to be physically intimate with your SO usually means trouble. "A drop in physical touch is also a sign that the relationship could be on the rocks," Blush life coach Kali Rogers told Bustle. Ask yourself if this is merely a rut you're stuck in, or whether you're just not sexually attracted to your partner anymore.
4. They're Not The First Person You Want To Spend Your Free Time With
Say you unexpectedly got released early from work on a Friday. Who are the first people you call to hang out? Who are you dying to see? That short list of individuals is who you care about the most. If your SO doesn't make the cut, they may not be as important to you as you tell yourself they are. You can't be that happy with someone who doesn't play a significant role in your life.
5. You're Acting Out In Unhealthy Ways When You Fight
Every couple fights, so the fact that you're arguing isn't inherently something to worry about. However, the way you react to those fights matters a lot. Someone who often acts destructively in an attempt to seek revenge or inflict emotional pain on their partner — rather than have a mature conversation about the spat — probably doesn't have very much respect and love for the relationship.
6. You Feel Like You Don't Have Much To Talk About At Dinner
There's nothing more awkward than seeing a couple on a date sitting in complete silence and uncomfortably staring at the bread basket. It's so painful to watch, in fact, that when we see people in this situation, we often can't help but talk about them under our breath. If you and your partner regularly find yourselves in this uneasy situation, you should consider whether you're staying together because you genuinely like each other, or if you're just sticking it out because it feels familiar.
7. You Never Say "We" When You Talk About Your Plans To Your Family Or Friends
Healthy, happy couples make plans to do things together, whether it's a collective Thanksgiving dinner or a three-day weekend getaway. You don't have to do everything side by side, but part of the foundation to a lasting relationship is that you share in life's joys together on a regular basis. When you lose the desire to have fun as a couple, it's time to take a look at how you really feel about your partner.
8. You Two Don't Spend Quality Time Together Anymore
All couples sometimes hit a point in their relationship when they're so busy that they don't spend that much time together. Hopefully this isn't a regular occurrence, though; having a full schedule is one thing, but not making an effort at all to shift around obligations and hang out is a different beast entirely — one that could mean you don't really dig your SO like you used to.
9. You Think About Your Exes Often — Or Contact Them
Late-night texting your ex is a dangerous enough game to play when you're single; but doing so when your current partner is fast asleep in the other room could mean serious trouble. It's natural to reach out to an ex when you're feeling insecure or unhappy in your relationship, so if you constantly feel a really strong urge to ask them how they're doing, there are probably things on the homefront you should address.
10. You Read Their Private Messages To See What's Going On
Without trust, a mature relationship — or a happy relationship — can't exist. You'll always be looking over each other shoulders to see what the other one is doing. Every time you pick up your partner's phone to snoop around their texts or social media messages to see what they're really up to, you may think you're just trying to stay close with them — but in reality, you're actually showing how much distance exists in your relationship.
11. You Complain To Your Partner About The Smallest Things
Carlyle Jansen, relationship expert and author of Sex Yourself: The Woman’s Guide to Mastering Masturbation and Achieving Powerful Orgasms, told Bustle, "If your partner is nitpicky and cranky at the smallest thing, they are likely unhappy and often not saying anything directly." Now turn that around on yourself: if you're always badgering your SO about the way they do the dishes or how they hang their washing, there's likely something more fundamental about your love life that you aren't addressing. Put the complaining aside and think seriously about whether you're content in this relationship.
12. You Threaten To Leave A Lot
In one of his videos, life coach, bestselling author, and relationship expert Tony Robbins says the second you threaten to leave your SO is the first nail in your relationship's coffin. Threatening to break up signifies that you're not content enough to stay and fight for your relationship, and deep down inside, you want to bail. If that's the case, your best bet is to think deeply and figure out why it is that you're always feigning an exit. It could be that there's an important issue that you're afraid to address, or changes you're scared to discuss...or it could be because you're just over the relationship.
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