7 Signs Your Partner Is Annoyed With You & Isn't Saying It

Plus, what experts say you can do about it.

by Kristine Fellizar
Originally Published: 
I feel like I annoy my boyfriend.
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No one wants to be seen as annoying, especially by the person they love the most. But when you're with someone for a long time, you're guaranteed to find little things here and there that might bug you. Despite this being totally natural, some people would rather shut down and keep their feelings to themselves rather than let their partner know what’s really going on. If you suspect that your partner finds you annoying but they’re not saying anything, there are ways to tell for sure. Experts say knowing the signs can help you get to the bottom of what’s causing the disconnect, so you can turn it around and have a much closer relationship.

When you feel like your partner’s annoyed with you, it may cause some concern. But as licensed marriage and family therapist, Heidi McBain, MA tells Bustle, there's no need to jump to conclusions right away. In fact, if a few small habits are bothering one partner, that's OK. If one partner is consistently annoyed at the other, that is something to note, she says. While the former is something that can be discussed and worked on, the latter she says may be a sign of a bigger issue in your relationship.

So here are some signs that your partner may be annoyed with you and what relationship experts say you can do about it.


Their Jokes Seem To Have Hidden Meanings

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If someone finds their partner annoying, they may joke about it instead of outwardly saying it. As clinical psychologist and relationship expert, Dr. Danielle Forshee, tells Bustle, the things they say may start to become critical and focus on your character flaws instead of the problem.

For instance, if you bring up wanting them to be more affectionate, they might respond with a, "Nah, you're just needy. Just kidding." Even though they say they're joking, there may be some hidden truth there. If this isn't addressed as soon as possible, Dr. Forshee says it can "significantly deteriorate the foundational fabric of a relationship." Talking calmly with your partner about these issues, and what may be causing them to react this way is the quickest method to moving forward.


They're Super Defensive Most Of The Time

Defensiveness is another way to tell if someone is annoyed not expressing it. According to Forshee, it’s a way of blaming the other person instead of taking accountability. For instance, if you bring up that you never spend time together anymore, your partner won't own up to the fact that they aren't putting in the effort to make time. Instead, they might throw every excuse at you, from being busy at work to even blaming you for not being understanding enough.

"If criticism and defensiveness are a regular part of your relationship, it is important to address it as soon as possible," Forshee says. "Ask your partner what they need from you. Try to come from a place of understanding about what, if anything, in your partner’s history of life experiences may lead them to fall trap to these types of communication interactions."


They Keep "Forgetting" To Respond To Your Texts Or Calls

If you previously had consistent communication with your partner, and suddenly they stop responding, it may be a sign that something is up. Of course, you know your partner best. Some people become lazier with texting and calling as the relationship becomes more comfortable. But if it sounds like they’re giving you excuses like like they keep forgetting to text back, it’s worth bringing up.

As clinical psychologist, Dr. Tari Mack, tells Bustle, behavior such as this is passive aggressive and not a mature way to express one’s feeling. If you see a future with your partner, it’s important to establish a safe space to express your annoyances. “This will help eliminate passive-aggressive responses and encourage mature communication which creates emotional safety in a relationship,” Mack says.


They’re Not Present When You’re Together

If someone isn't as present as they used to be, it may be a sign that they’re annoyed and not sharing it. According to clinical psychologist Dr. Carla Marie Manly, your partner may show this by spending more time texting or gaming while you’re together. They also may not seem as carefree or happy when they’re spending time with you.

“In some cases, partners who are annoyed strongly ‘radiate’ a sense of being irritated — even if they often deny it,” Manly says. Your date nights will feel more distant or tense overall. If this is the case for your relationship, initiate a conversation using “I” statements in order to prevent your partner from getting defensive. For example, “I feel you might be annoyed with me. Is there anything you’d like to talk about?” Being specific and respectful will help your partner open up, Manly says.


They're Not As Receptive To Affectionate Gestures As They Once Were

Maybe your partner isn’t as affectionate as they used to be. That tends to happen to a lot of couples, but if they’re not responsive to your gestures or try to subtly shrug you off, that’s worth paying attention to. This may be a sign that your partner is trying to create some distance between you two. If this happens, take note but don’t immediately jump to conclusions. According to Manly, “Sometimes a partner may seem to be annoyed by you ... due to unresolved personal issues, work stress, or challenges that have nothing to do with you.” Don’t stress yourself out thinking that your partner is no longer attracted to you or doesn’t want anything to do with you.

The best move is to wait a bit and then approach the issue if it keeps happening. “Although it can feel anxiety-inducing to talk about sensitive issues, it’s important to get into the habit of talking about anything and everything with your partner,” Manly says. “In a healthy relationship, no subject matter should be off-limits.”


They’d Rather Walk Away Than Fight Or Talk Out Issues

Someone who’s annoyed by their partner may sabotage the relationship by disappearing physically and emotionally when times get tough. "They won't deal with conflicts, anger, or any bumps in the road," Dr. Fran Walfish, relationship psychotherapist and author, tells Bustle. "This is a sure pathway to a collapse in the relationship."

It's obviously difficult to work out relationship issues with a partner who runs from their problems. But if you want the relationship to work, Dr. Walfish says sitting them down to have those conversations are necessary. "This does not involve only good talking," she says. "Healthy communication means active listening to the other person without interrupting by trying to force your opinions down [their] throat. Instead, listen to them and narrate out loud what you hear so that they feel heard, validated, and respected."


They Keep Asking For "Alone Time"

My girlfriend seems annoyed with me all the time.

Everyone should have some alone time in their relationship. As Assimos says, if your partner says they need space, give it to them. "Sometimes people need quiet or alone time, and the best thing you can do is support that, and look at it as an opportunity to do your own thing as well," she says. With that said, you absolutely have the right to ask, "I will honor your need for space, is there anything I have done that is upsetting you?”

My Partner Seems Annoyed With Me All The Time — What Do I Do?

When you realize that your partner may be annoyed with you but isn't sharing it, it’s natural to take it personally. But try not to assume anything right away and then act out based on those assumptions. Instead, take a step back and assess the situation before you do something that may make the issue worse. Does your partner seem more tired then usual? Has a project at work been consuming their time and energy? Is there anything going on in their family? If so, these are things that may affect their behavior towards you. If you’re unsure, it’s OK to ask. Let your partner know that you’re always there for them if they need to talk, and then leave it at that.

“If the partner’s ‘annoyed’ behavior persists, set aside a specific time to chat,” Manly says. “Let your partner know what you’ve noticed and be as specific as possible.” For example, “I feel unsettled. It seems like you’re irritated with me” or “ I noticed that you now tend to leave the kitchen when I’m making dinner instead of hanging out with me.” According to Manly, “I” statements will help you approach the issue with a “non-blaming attitude.”

The most important thing to do in this situation is to have a conversation with your partner. After all, you can’t change or make adjustments if you don’t know what wrong. Plus, when someone doesn’t air out their feelings, it can cause resentment.

“Chronically unresolved ‘little annoyances’ can lead to feeling annoyed by the partner as whole, rather than a few of the partner’s behaviors,” Manly says. It’s also good to establish the kind of relationship where you can be open with each other about your annoyances, fears, and insecurities.

“Annoyances are a natural, inevitable part of relationships,” she says. “It’s important to learn to talk about them to keep the atmosphere in a relationship heathy and clean.”

Experts & sources

Heidi McBain, MA, licensed marriage and family therapist

Jeannie Assimos, eharmony's Chief of Advice

Dr. Fran Walfish, relationship psychotherapist and author

Dr. Danielle Forshee, clinical psychologist and relationship expert

Dr. Tari Mack, clinical psychologist

Dr. Carla Marie Manly, clinical psychologist, speaker, and author of Date Smart

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