13 Subtle Signs Your Partner Is Unhappy In Your Relationship, Even Though Things Have Seemed Great
Up until now, you've felt like everything was going great in your relationship. You've been having fun with your partner, successfully dealing with problems, and basically living that couple life. But now things are a bit off, and you can't seem to shake the feeling that your partner is unhappy.
Whether it snuck up on you over the course of a few years, or it dawned on you suddenly one night, I have to say — it's great that you noticed. Not everyone picks up on problems in their relationship, or takes the time to assess the situation. Even your partner might not realize they're projecting negative vibes, or that they're unhappy. So consider it a step in the right direction that you've realized something's wrong.
That's step one. Step two is actually doing something about it, before you worry for one more second — and before things get worse. "Use these signs as an invitation to have a conversation," author and life coach Kali Rogers tells Bustle. "Asking questions about the behavior, 'Are you stressed? Can I help?' or asking for what we want, 'I'd like to hold hands more' is a better use of your time." It may feel awkward, but it's important to open those lines of communication so you can figure out how to handle this, together. Here are some more signs you might want to address.
1. They Aren't The Least Bit Accommodating
If your partner can't meet you halfway during an argument, or when making joint decisions, take note. "Relationships involve compromise," says NYC-based therapist Kimberly Hershenson, LMSW. "You do things you don't necessarily want to do for someone because you care and want to see them happy." An unhappy parter simply won't be able to muster the energy.
2. They're Always Out With Friends
While it's healthy to go out and see your own friends, these people shouldn't take preference over your relationship. "If your partner always seems to have other plans and doesn't include you, it's a red flag that they aren't happy," Hershenson says. Speak up if your SO seems to care about their social life than what's best for you/the relationship.
3. They Don't Want To Talk
A happy partner will be down to talk about their day, and will be an open book when it comes to sharing their problems. That's why it's not a great sign if your SO is suddenly all clammed up. "If you ask your partner how they are doing and the answer is 'fine,' this may show they are unhappy in the relationship," Hershenson says. "Not wanting to communicate and lack of communication are not good."
4. They're Decidedly Less Physical
If your partner isn't feelin' too physical right now, it's important to respect their space. But since it can hurt if they shrink away from physical touch — especially since this is often a sign of underlying problems — you need to bring it up.
"If your partner isn't open to touch and has backed away from it, that's a sign they could be unhappy in the relationship," says Rogers. "A lack of touching could indicate stress or general discontent with the state of the relationship. And, backing away from touching could be a coping mechanism for keeping space between the two of you."
5. Your Convos Feel Awkward And Stilted
If your partner is harboring some form of unhappiness, it might feel like pulling teeth when trying to get them to chat. And this can be most obvious when talking about mundane things. "Saying things like 'it's cold outside' doesn't require a response, but most couples respond regardless because they simply enjoy talking to each other," Rogers says.
As life coach John Gottman has said, these moments are what's known as bids. "One [person] is bidding for affection, support, and understanding from the other," Rogers says. "If the other accepts, bonding is initiated. If they don't, it's a missed opportunity. Happy couples take advantage of bids as often as possible. Unhappy couples tend to not."
6. They Require An Inordinate Amount Of Alone Time
Again, alone time is key to a healthy relationship. You both should be able to be alone, leave each other alone, and feel comfortable going solo for awhile. That said, it's not normal if your partner needs to be by themselves 24/7. "If you've noticed more individual activities replacing joint ones, that could be a sign of a partner trying to retreat," Rogers says. "They might need time to think or have decided that they need to build up their own identity and independence outside of the relationship."
7. They've Been Picking Fights For No Reason
If your partner is suddenly argumentative, it might be due to excessive stress at work, or a side effect of their depression or anxiety. But it could also be due to their unhappiness. "When a partner is unhappy and can’t find a way out of the relationship, they will turn to creating a problem that isn’t there," relationship expert Lori Bizzoco tells Bustle. "Your partner may try picking fights over little things and making a big deal out of them."
8. They're Not As Excited To See You
It's normal for the intense of excitement of a new relationship to wane over time. But that doesn't mean your partner should be apathetic towards you. As Bizzoco says, "It [might] seem as if getting to see you or be with you has little importance to them." You might also notice a little less excitement in their eyes, and it can hurt. So be sure to speak up.
9. They Suddenly Have New Hobbies
OK, so I'm not saying your partner is picking up new hobbies because they're unhappy. It's 100 percent healthy to have side projects, and to do things alone. You might want to worry, however, if it seems like they're using these hobbies as a way of escaping the relationship. "If they are not finding happiness in your relationship, they will try finding it in other aspects of their life," Bizzoco says. And that's not OK.
10. They Take Forever To Text Back
While it's impossible to sustain the 24/7 texting spree that was the early part of your relationship, you might want to say something if your partner currenly refuses to text back. "It’s easier to recognize distance with your partner through texting," Bizzoco says. "They may take longer to respond to your messages or suddenly become busy and don’t have time to talk." It's just another sign you're not their priority.
11. They're No Longer Talking About The Future
If you two couldn't stop talking about the future, it's worth noting a sudden silence. "If your partner avoids any discussions about the future and plans you both may have made, this is a sign that they may not be happy in the relationship," says psychic and spiritual counselor Davida Rappaport. "Unless they are willing to discuss future plans, this may mean their future plans may not include you." And that's obviously something you need to know.
12. You've Been Feeling A Tad Suspicious
As Rappaport tells me, it's not uncommon for unhappy parters to seek attention elsewhere. So trust your gut if things don't feel right. If you can't ever track down your SO, or if they've been throwing off untrustworthy vibes, you need to have that chat.
13. They're No Longer Making An Effort
When someone's no longer taking their relationship seriously, they're more likely to drop all the responsibility that comes with it. So no, you're not crazy for worrying about your partner's sudden lack of accountability. "If your partner starts breaking promises or does not keep their word and does not seem to offer you more than a simple, 'I’m sorry,' this is a sign that they may not be happy in your relationship because they stop caring about how you feel," Rappoport says.
Which brings me to this final bit of hopeful advice. Just because you notice these signs, does not mean your relationship is doomed. "It just means that there is something going on that is either a) not tied to the relationship, but the stress is spilling over into it or b) something is wrong within the relationship that needs addressing in order to be fixed," Rogers says. If you two can have that heart-to-heart, it is possible to reignite that happiness, and stay together.
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