It's easy to pretend that your relationship is going well, even if you don't actually believe it. When you love someone and you've been with them for so long, you likely won't want to do anything that can hurt them. But when you're pretending to be happier in your relationship than you actually are, faking it can only last so long. According to experts say, it will show.
People stay in relationships where they’re unhappy for a number of reasons. "Some people really struggle with change and the simple thought of splitting their lives apart really unsettles them," Jenna Birch, CEO of Plum dating app and author of The Love Gap, tells Bustle. Some may also stay due to attachment issues or social pressures (i.e. all their friends are in relationships and they don't want to be the only single one).
According to Birch, "The challenging part of relationships is that a lot of people think that if they’re 'not bad,' they must be pretty good." This of course, isn't necessarily true. "There should always be new reasons to invest in your partner all the time, and an evolving relationship will make you happy and excited," she says.
If it doesn't, you'll be stuck pretending that you're happy and experts say you may end up doing the following things in your relationship.
1. Posting About How "Amazing" Your Relationship Is On Social Media
There's nothing wrong with tagging your posts with #RelationshipGoals. But as Amica Graber, relationship expert with TruthFinder, tells Bustle, be careful that you're not trying to convince yourself that you're actually happy in your relationship by posting about it on social media. "A recent study from Northwestern University found that those who post frequently about their relationship on social media are actually insecure about it," Graber says. "If you're experiencing problems in your relationship, it's possible that you start looking for outside validation in the form of 'likes' to make up for something missing."
2. Constantly Bickering With Each Other Over Small Things
You and your partner may not have huge fights all the time. But if you're bickering over seemingly little issues like forgetting to take out the trash or being ten minutes late to a date, Birch says, you might be pretending to be happy. Although these may not seem like big relationship-ending fights, they do create blockages to intimacy. When you're bickering with each other all the time, you're only pushing each other away.
3. Going Along With Everything Your Partner Says For The Sake Of It
Alternatively, if a "once-assertive partner" starts agreeing with everything the other says, that's not a good sign. According to Birch, they’ve likely stopped expressing their needs and the things that bother them because they've checked out. When passion for the relationship is lost, the will to fight tends to go with it.
4. Forgetting To Celebrate Important Dates
Birthdays, anniversaries, and major holidays are worth remembering and celebrating. But if you have no desire to celebrate these days with your partner or if your partner keeps forgetting important dates, Birch says your relationship may not be as happy as you think it is. Remembering your anniversary or your partner's birthday shows that you care. If you and your partner don't make it a point to celebrate these dates when you used to before, it's time to check in with yourself and your partner about what you want.
5. Living Vicariously Through Your Single Friends
When you're not as content in your relationship as you feel like you should be, you might find yourself longing for a different situation. According to Birch, you may jump at the chance to hear your single friends talk about their dating experiences because a part of you wants that "freedom to explore" again. Even if you don't voice it, you may even experience pangs of jealousy. Hearing all about your friends' adventures in dating might provide you with an escape from the reality of your relationship now.
6. Comparing Your Relationship With Others
When you're secretly unhappy in your relationship, you may find yourself comparing your relationship or your partner to other people. According to Birch, you may start thinking about what you really want in a relationship and realize that your partner doesn't match up. "When a friend tells you about something special they did with their partner or something their partner did for them, you may feel sad that you and your partner doesn't have that same passion or connection anymore," she says. This sadness doesn't come from jealousy. Instead, it comes from a realization that your relationship may not be the right one for you.
7. Moving The Relationship At A Super Fast Pace
"A relationship that moves at a supernatural speed should raise a few red flags," Graber says. "There is no need to rush anything in a healthy relationship." If you feel the need to jump from one major relationship milestone to the next in a very short period of time, you may need to take a step back and ask yourself why. If you're really looking to spend forever together, what's the rush? "Over-commitment in the first few months of a relationship (like moving in together or getting engaged) [can be] a sign that you're trying to compensate for something lacking in your relationship," she says. More often than not, relationships that move fast in a short period of time end up burning out just as fast.
When you love someone, it's easy to pretend that things are going fine when they're not. But both you and your partner deserve to be happy. When you realize that you're just pretending to be happy in your relationship, the next step is to talk to your partner about it. Your relationship isn't doomed to fail if you both put in the effort to turn things around. According to Birch, make suggestions about ways to "reinvigorate the spark." Think about what's going right and what needs improvement. If you and your partner are committed to making things last, you will make the changes necessary to have a happy and fulfilling relationship.