How To Deal When You’re Not Happy In Relationship
Updated June 26, 2020
Reviewer Christy B.
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.
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 first option is to end the relationship. However, since you're reading this article, that's probably not what you want to do. You 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.
Discontent in Relationships
Signs 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, you may not be happy with your relationship. Although every partnership goes through hard times, they shouldn't overshadow the good. There may be ebbs and flows when one or both of you aren't entirely satisfied with the way things are going. This is okay in the short term. But in the long term, staying in a relationship where you are unhappy 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 partnership.
Evaluate the Problem
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:
- 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 the kids, communicate these thoughts as well. You might be surprised to find that your significant other has some of the same concerns 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:
- Emotional connection
- 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 focus solely on the negative aspects, you can get caught in a cycle of negative thoughts; combat this by also reflecting on the positive points.
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.
Next, you need to communicate your feelings to your partner. This needs to be done respectfully and intentionally. 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 how 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 it is unhealthy to stay in a relationship to please someone else.
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 your relationship is healthy 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. 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
You will benefit from support while you're evaluating your options. If you feel 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.
Betterhelp.com 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.
"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 today.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
What do you do when you are not happy in a relationship?
If you're unhappy in your current relationship but are still interested in making the relationship work, the best thing to do is talk with your partner — have a heart to heart. Be sure to listen to their feelings and thoughts as well. Provide solutions to the issues you feel you've been having and listen to their ideas as well.
Why do people stay in unhappy relationships?
They are several reasons why people choose to remain in unhappy relationships. The main reasons why they stay in unhappy relationships is because of the time, resources, and emotions they've invested in it, they think they don't have good alternatives, and they believe that if they do leave they will fail at life.
Should I stay in a relationship if I'm not happy?
Relationship trouble is common now and then, especially the longer the relationship lasts. It’s best not to stay in an unhappy relationship after you’ve already tried to work it out and yet nothing has changed for the better. But remember, especially in you’re in a relationship for a long time, there will be times when you or your partner will not be happy. That’s not necessarily an unhappy relationship more than is a season of change you’re going through. And that is common with most long-term relationships.
How do you know if you’re unhappy in a relationship?
Here are some indicators that you might not be happy in a relationship:
- You’re not feeling at ease around your partner
- You avoid conflict
- You have more fun alone
- You feel restless
- You’re not feeling happy when you’re with your partner
- You’re not feeling peaceful around your partner
- You don't do the special "little things" anymore
- You don't share news with your partner anymore
What is a toxic relationship?
A toxic relationship is characterized by insecurity, self-centeredness, dominance, and control. The relationship is characterized by behaviors by the toxic partner that are emotionally and/or physically damaging to their partner.
How do you know if a girl is unhappy in a relationship?
- They’re almost always out with friends
- They simply don’t want to talk
- They’re less intimate
- They want much more alone time
When should you let go of a relationship?
You see the signs of an unhappy relationship. You’re not sure whether staying in a relationship is the best option. You’re personally feeling unhappy about it. When should you give up? If, after working diligently at mending the relationship and if vital deal breakers like your needs aren't being met on a consistent basis or if your partner isn't willing to try harder to fulfill your needs aren’t met, it's probably an indication time to move on.
How do you save a dying relationship?
Take out old love letters and read them aloud to one another. Go back to places where beautiful, intimate moments were shared and relive them together. Reach out to others who were there with you who can remind you of what you were like when your relationship was still alive and prospering.
Is it cheating if you're not official?
Some believe that it’s not cheating if your relationship isn’t official. However, emotions don’t always take facts into consideration, and it can feel just like cheating even if you haven’t made the relationship official.
How do I know if I am happy?
Some of the signs that you will feel happy are:
- You enjoy the lifestyle you've created
- You can cope with setbacks and rise back up
- You speak your truth
- You pursue your passions
- You can create your own joy, not relying on others for joy or happiness
- You reach out for help when you need it
How do I know if I'm in love?
One main way you know you’re in love is that you always think about the other person. You feel like you can't get them off of your mind. That's because the brain releases the “love drug” hormone called phenylethylamine when you fall in love with someone which creates the feeling of infatuation with your partner.
What are the 5 most important things in a relationship?
The 5 most important things in a relationship are trust, respect, love, attention, and communication.
What are red flags in a relationship?
Some signs that your relationship may be on the brink of disaster are when your partner drives a wedge between you and your family and friends, they have drastic mood swings and are often on a short fuse, they become secretive about their life, and they start to give you manipulative guilt trips.
What is a toxic girlfriend?
Some signs of a toxic girlfriend include her deciding what you can and can't do, she doesn’t encourages you to grow as a person but rather stunts your growth, she doesn’t have respect for you, she uses sex (or lack of) as manipulation, and she will be difficult to open up to.
How do you tell if you are being manipulated?
Manipulative behavior involves three main factors: fear, obligation, and guilt. When you are being manipulated by someone, you are more likely being psychologically coerced into doing something you probably don't really want to do,
How do you know when a man is unhappy in a relationship?
There are some telltale signs of an unhappy man in a relationship. Sudden mood swings and changes in his normal personality can be an indicator of a man who is unhappy in his relationship. He might also bring up past offenses, compliment you less, and spend more time with his friends and family and less time with you.
How do you know he doesn’t want a relationship?
Some signs he doesn’t want to be in a relationship is if he's only making vague plans to get together or bailing at the last minute. A man who wants to be in a relationship with you will do the opposite. If he's not interested in you enough to respect you and your time, then he probably doesn't want a relationship with you eitherHow can you tell if your girlfriend really loves you?
- She remembers what you like and goes out of her way to get those things for you
- She cares how your friends are doing
- She really wants to know you—your dream job, your favorite foods, your aspirations.
- She surprises you with getaways or a dinner at your favorite restaurant
- You still catch her checking you out
- She loves bragging about you
How do you know if your relationship is worth it?
When should you stay in a relationship and fight for it? When two people have at least a few common interests — hobbies and activities they can enjoy together — it’s a strong indicator of a relationship worth saving. This is especially true if those interests involve an important area of life for one or (preferably) both people.
How do you know when a guy has moved on?
Here are some fairly obvious signs he’s moved on:
- He avoids you
- He's encouraging you to date other people
- He makes an effort not to be places where you'll be
- He's in a new relationship
- He’s unfriended you on your social media accounts
- He cuts off all contact
How do you know when it's time to let go quotes?
“Sometimes it takes a heartbreak to shake us awake and help us see we are worth so much more than we’re settling for.” – Mandy Hale, The Single Woman: Life, Love, and a Dash of Sass
“You don’t need strength to let go of something. What you really need is understanding.” – Guy Finley
“Letting go means to come to the realization that some people are a part of your history, but not a part of your destiny.” – Steve Maraboli
When should you let go of a guy?
Here are some signs indicating it’s time to let go of a guy.
- His personal time is consistently more important than your concerns and frustrations
- He is unable to take responsibility for his actions and blames you for his shortcomings and faults
- He disappears for periods of time.
- He lives off your finances
- He spends more time with his friends and family than you
- Any physical, emotional, or mental abuse.
A healthy relationship will most likely not have these indicators.
Should you give up on someone you love?
The bottom line is that no one is a relationship expert, and there are times when you should give up on someone you love. You can still love someone from a distance; in fact, it’s oftentimes healthier. If you’ve been working for a good amount of time on your relationship and yet you’re not feeling that your needs being met and, in turn, you’re possibly seeking those needs from other people is a reason. Other reasons like when your partner is abusive or finding yourself obligated to stay in the relationship are signs. Be aware that the feeling of failure might arise after making such a decision.
How often does the average couple argue?
According to research, couples argue an average of 7 times a day! That equates to an average of 2,455 times a year. Why so much? Money issues, laziness, and not listening are among the top reasons. Snoring, driving too fast, and what to have for dinner are also common sources.
How long does a typical relationship last?
Studies show that, on average, both healthy and unhealthy relationships only last 2 years and 9 months.