6 reasons you’re miserable in your relationship (and how to fix it)

All relationships have ups and downs, and no relationship can make you happy one hundred percent of the time. 

Still, you might be wondering if the lows in your relationship are normal, or if they signal deeper issues that need to be resolved. 

Let’s explore why you might be feeling miserable in your relationship –

And feel free to apply these points to the various relationships in your life, whether they be romantic, platonic, or otherwise.

1) You suppress your feelings

Sometimes when we don’t express our anger, it can settle into a more general resentment that overwhelms our relationships and chokes out the air in them.

You may find yourself angry and acting out, but you may have felt that way for so long that you can’t even put your finger on why anymore.

This is why it helps to communicate your feelings as you feel them, not allowing too much time to pass and turn your anger into resentment.

This doesn’t mean you have to communicate everything – sometimes it makes more sense to let things go and be selective with what you bring up.

But the important thing is to face and acknowledge your feelings as they come up (especially when noticing patterns), even if it’s just a conversation you have with yourself.

Once you identify your feelings, it becomes easier to work through them.

And if you choose to communicate your feelings to the other person, remember that you can’t control what they do with the revelation.

You can only decide how you will respond and move forward.

2) You avoid conflict

Expressing any frustrations may or may not lead to conflict – and if you’re conflict averse, you may be afraid to bring anything up that might lead to it.

But avoiding it could be creating more conflict within yourself as well as within the relationship.

Have you ever had entire arguments with someone in your head, deciding what their responses would be before you even tell them what’s bothering you?

I have, and the real-life conversation often goes much better than the one in my head.

Not because the other person responds exactly how I expect them to, but because I usually learn something new.

I often find that most of the conflict was in my head and once I voice my concerns, I’m able to work with the person towards a new solution or understanding.

I’ve generally noticed that trying to avoid conflict can have weird, distorted effects on relationships.

It can turn into resentment or passive aggression, and lead to withdrawing from the relationship.

Instead, if we face conflict with grace and truth, it can lead to happier and more resilient relationships.

pic1504 6 reasons you're miserable in your relationship (and how to fix it)

3) You fight often and dirty

Maybe you notice the opposite trend in your relationship and find yourself constantly involved in conflict.

If you feel like you and your friend, partner, etc. are always fighting, and one or both of you tend to fight dirty, it’s probably making you miserable.

Fighting dirty involves using harmful techniques to win an argument, like attacking each other’s character, using the other person’s vulnerabilities against them, and other tactics highlighted in this Ananias Foundation article.

There are better ways to ‘fight.’

If you handle conflict with the mindset that it’s you and your loved one against the problem, treating each other with respect and kindness along the way, you’re more likely to resolve the conflict with your relationship not only intact but stronger.

What does this look like?

You and your loved one should both feel heard and understood.

When one person is speaking, the other should listen – really listen, not just be preparing their rebuttal.

Try repeating what the other person has said to make sure you’ve understood them.

Avoid spoken or body language that demeans or attacks them.

Speak from a place of how you feel rather than accusing your loved one.

And try not to bring past arguments into your current argument. Deal with each conflict on its own basis.

If you find your discussions devolving into fights, try taking a break from the argument and coming back to it when you’ve both cooled down.

All this requires us to be conscious and actively growing in our relationships, because the tendency is to fall back on our old patterns and ways of being.

4) You’re disappointed

Are you aware of your expectations in relationships?

You may have expectations around gender roles, for example, or communication or exclusivity, that the other person doesn’t necessarily subscribe to.

You may define your relationship differently than they do. You may be shocked or disappointed when the disconnect becomes apparent.

Disappointment is usually a good sign of where your expectations lie. Even though it doesn’t feel good, it can make you more aware of your wants and needs.

If you’ve shared your wants and needs with the other person and they’re consistently not being met, ask yourself:

Can I adjust myself, within reason, and accept certain expectations not being met?

Or is it time to reassess the relationship and what I’m willing to do to make myself fit?

In evaluating the relationship, honestly ask yourself whether it feels loving, healthy, and worthwhile.

No relationship is perfect, but you may find it difficult to continue believing in and working on yours if you don’t have positive associations with it.

5) You’ve changed

We’re often encouraged to accept our loved ones as they are and not expect them to change to fit our molds.

While this is valid, the opposite is also true.

We should expect people to change, because they do. And if you and your loved one have changed, your relationship probably will too.

It doesn’t have to change for the worse, but if it does, you may find yourself unhappy over time.

If this resonates, try self-examination: 

How have you changed? What are your new needs, desires, and expectations?

Try to remember what drew you to your friend or partner in the first place. Are those qualities still there? Can you see the good in how they’ve changed? 

Try to gain some perspective, and if you and your loved one see the value in it, both of you can work towards improving the relationship or else transition into playing different roles in each other’s lives.

6) You’re triggered

Healthy relationships can heal and trigger our relational traumas.

Being triggered in a relationship simply means you’re emotionally invested and have a deep-rooted emotional response to something the other person does, which may be attached to past traumas that you have.

The thing that sets apart healthy relationships is this: they also provide a safe space to face your triggers and heal past traumas.

You can discuss your triggers with your friend or partner – a vulnerable act that requires trust and safety – and they can reassure you that you’re safe, not only with words but with loving action.

This is a human process, often messy. 

It’s not always simple because emotions are involved and can lead us to respond defensively. 

If you find yourself triggered, try to avoid saying or doing anything drastic. 

Instead, try saying something like, “I’m feeling a lot and need to work through what I’m feeling. Can I take some space and get back to you?”

Try removing yourself from the situation and going for a walk, journaling your thoughts, or doing some other calming activity. 

You can then come back to the situation, once you’ve calmed down and are no longer in a state of fight or flight. 

I realize this feels vulnerable, especially if we tend to avoid conflict and vulnerability in relationships, but it’s worth doing with the people who are safe and can handle our more difficult emotions. 

This doesn’t apply to cases where abuse is involved, and you must leave for your own well-being.

In healthy relationships though, even if you’re triggered, good and healing can come out of it when you realize you’re in a safe and loving environment.

Tidenek Haileselassie

Tidenek Haileselassie

Tidenek is a writer who calls Ethiopia and other places home. She enjoys exploring places, including home, through a traveler’s eyes, and accidentally discovering things when lost.

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