How To Know When You're Unhappy In A Relationship

By Stephanie Kirby|Updated June 15, 2022
CheckedMedically Reviewed By Christy Booze, LCSW

Are you struggling in your relationship? Research suggests that around 20 percent of people in relationships are unhappy. It is human nature to want a relationship that makes you happy. The good news is there are several things you can do to improve your relationship and increase your level of happiness.

signs you're unhappy in a relationship, and how to navigate what to do next

It's Okay To Feel Unhappy In Your Relationship. The First Step Is Recognizing.

When you're in an unhappy relationship, you might feel stuck. You don't want to leave the relationship, but it also doesn't feel like you're getting what you signed up for. You have a choice to make. The easier option if you’re unhappy in your relationship is to end it with your partner. However, since you're reading this article, that's probably not what you want to do. If your relationship is unhappy right now, you might want to find a way to improve your relationship and be happier. There are a few steps that can help you do that:

  • Evaluate the problem - You need to determine what's causing you to feel unhappy in the relationship.
  • Choose a response - What you do to improve your situation will depend on what you discover when evaluating the problem.

We'll discuss these steps in more detail throughout the article.

Unhappy In A Relationship? Some Signs This May Be The Case

Signs your relationship could be in trouble and that you may not be happy in your relationship include:

  • You look for excuses not to see them/be at home.
  • You don't share much anymore.
  • You're tempted to stray.
  • You think you would be happier living a different life.
  • You're distracting yourself with booze and/or drugs.
  • You feel put down or disrespected.
  • You're irritable and angry a lot of the time.
  • You feel depressed when you're at home.
  • You're only in it for the kids, house, pets, or [fill in the blank].
  • You don't know if you should really commit.
  • You find yourself chasing how you felt in the past.
  • You no longer love your partner but resent them instead.
  • You feel as if you have settled or are settling.

If any of the signs above resonate with you, and your relationship, odds are, they could be contributing to the overall unhappiness. Although every partnership goes through hard times, it shouldn't overshadow the good things. There may be ebbs and flows when one or both of you aren't entirely satisfied with the way things are going or you’re not feeling happy currently. This is okay in the short term. But in the long term, staying in happy relationships is unhealthy. So what should you do? Read on to discover some of the steps you can take to fix things if you are not happy with your relationship.

Evaluate the Problem: Why You're Not Happy In Your Relationship Anymore

Before you identify your relationship as the source of your unhappiness, it's essential to evaluate your life holistically. This allows you to see if there's anything else that could be causing your discontentment and masquerading as relational discord. When we are dealing with internal issues, we have the tendency to project these feelings onto our partners subconsciously. Possible sources of external discontent are:

  • Depression
  • Loneliness
  • Financial worries
  • Parenting concerns
  • Unhappiness at work

With many of these things, a general feeling of dissatisfaction or irritation can spread to your relationship. Because you're emotionally and physically close to your partner, it's common to let down your guard and take your unhappiness out on them. This kind of unhealthy projection can cause bitterness and discontent on both sides.


How to Increase Happiness in a Relationship

First, pinpoint the issue and share your feelings with your partner. If money worries are the problem, be open and honest about your fears. If you're concerned about things that are happening with raising children, communicate these thoughts as well. You might be surprised to find that your significant other is on the same page or is at the very least open to supporting you through your personal hurdles.

Next, tackle the issues head-on. This is where a qualified counselor can really be of service. Because he or she will be trained in solving a myriad of issues, having a guide can make the process a lot easier than going at it alone. This is paramount because, when we take responsibility for our individual areas of unhappiness and work on healing these areas, we often see a boost of positive feelings in our relationships as well.

If you decide that an external factor is not your primary issue, evaluate what about your relationship is making you unhappy. Try to be as specific as possible and pinpoint the exact area of discontent. Are you unhappy with your:

  • Communication
  • Emotional connection
  • Support
  • Financial habits
  • Time spent together or lack thereof
  • An unfair division of labor
  • Parenting differences
  • Incompatible life goals

Once you've identified the root of your discontentment, it's important to also reflect on the positive aspects of your relationship. Spend some time identifying why your relationship is healthy and the things about it that make you happy. When you’re not feeling happy, you focus solely on the negative aspects, you can get caught in a cycle of negative thoughts; find happiness and points of positivity in the relationship to combat this.

Take some time to write out your feelings, both positive and negative. You will need to have a conversation with your partner about your unhappiness. He or she is likely to be much more receptive if you have your feelings, thoughts, and concerns outlined clearly, so they're not confused about what's really going on.

Communicate Clearly

Next, you need to communicate your feelings to your partner. This needs to be done respectfully and intentionally. Both you and your partner must commit to attentive listening. Choose your words carefully, and resist casting blame on your partner. Use "I feel" statements to simply express what you've been feeling, and give suggestions on the best way your partner could support you. Listen to your partner's response and, even though you've been vulnerable in expressing your needs, carefully and calmly consider what they have to say.

Understand that your partner might internalize your feelings, and be patient if he or she becomes sad, upset, or angry. Although you aren't responsible for their emotions and should speak your truth regardless, empathy can go a long way when trying to work out relationship issues.

Tackle the Issues

Once you've shared your feelings, see if you two can work together to tackle the issues and solve them one by one. This will take some time and commitment, but if you truly value your relationship, it will be worth it in the end.

Consider if the Relationship Should Continue

Finally, you will need to decide whether you believe your relationship can be salvaged and if you want to attempt that. This is a personal decision that is yours and yours alone. Even your partner's feelings don't really matter at this point because there is no such thing as a happy relationship when one partner stays just to please the other partner.

happy in a relationship

It's Okay To Feel Unhappy In Your Relationship. The First Step Is Recognizing.

When considering your best option, reflect on the length of your relationship, your time together, and your partner's response to your recently-expressed needs. If you genuinely feel like you’re in a healthy relationship and that a few simple improvements could result in increased happiness, consider doing the hard work by staying in the relationship. After all, no loving partnership will be perfect; all partnerships require commitment and compromise, even the happy and healthy relationships. However, if you come to the conclusion that your overall relationship is not one built on love, support, and trust, you may choose to do the hard and complicated work of ending the relationship.

Help for Your Relationship When You're Unhappy

You will benefit from support while you're evaluating your options. If you’re constantly feeling unhappy in your current relationship, couples counseling - and even individual counseling - can help improve your wellbeing and help you decide whether to stay in the relationship. offers affordable online counseling to help you get your life and your relationship back on track. You can read reviews of our therapists below, from people experiencing similar issues.

Counselor Reviews

"Stephanie is a gem! She's very thoughtful, thorough, honest, insightful but most of all helpful. This is coming from a person that never wanted to do counseling and just "knew" I didn't need it. She's been key in helping my wife and I find our better place. She made us grow as a couple and individually. Thanks Steph!"

"Within just a few sessions with Monica, I was in a much better place emotionally, mentally, and had renewed hope. After a strong rift with my husband, I needed a compassionate ear that wasn't my friends or family. She listened, gave me good feedback and assigned helpful habits. So far everything she suggested has been working really well. Thanks to her, I've made great progress, and I'm excited to continue until I'm back to me."


Relationships don't always make us feel happy the way we think they should. But with a little work and attention, it's possible to rediscover happiness with your significant other. Take the first step and connect with a relationship expert today.


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