The realization. Maybe it hit you like a ton of bricks. Or maybe the process was slow and insidious, almost imperceptible.
No matter how it dawns on you, realizing you’re unhappy in your relationship even though you still love your partner is definitely an emotional gut punch.
Sadly, sometimes love just ain’t enough.
You may feel sad, confused, scared, and even angry. Can your relationship be saved, or is “Taps” playing quietly in the background? Are you overreacting? Are you underreacting?
And why does your partner insist on chewing like that? It’s gross.
Are you just stressed out, or are you genuinely unhappy in your relationship, which, in turn, stresses you out even more?
Many factors can contribute to being dissatisfied with your relationship’s trajectory. Some may hit hard. Here are 15 signs you are unhappy in your relationship despite still being in love.
1) No quality time
Lack of quality time is an issue for many couples. We have jobs, we have friends and community, and we may have children or older parents needing our care.
We’re all spread incredibly thin.
This leaves precious little time to nourish your relationship with your partner, which can weaken your connection over time and cause unhappiness for both parties.
If there’s a growing distance between you and your love that’s leaving you feeling disconnected, it’s time to bridge that gap as a couple and reconnect.
2) Growing distance
Remember when you first started dating and you’d always find the time to get together, no matter who or what you had to blow off?
Sometimes unhappiness in a relationship rests solely on emotional distance. You don’t feel as close to your love as you used to and may fear your partner is pulling away from you.
This can be frustrating and frightening. So you argue, because even a crummy connection is better than no connection at all.
3) You start arguing
Arguing would seem like an obvious sign that you’re unhappy in your relationship, and for the most part, it is.
If things that were no big deal before are suddenly causing arguments, and the things that once caused arguments now set off Armageddon, you may have some issues to deal with.
But there’s something even worse than that, and that’s not arguing with each other at all.
4) You stop arguing
If you stop arguing altogether, that’s more concerning than constant bickering. That generally means you’ve both given up and have had all the fight knocked out of you during your Constantly Arguing era.
You’re not even having makeup sex, so what’s the point of fighting?
5) Lack of physical intimacy
In a word, sexy time. The thing is, you’re not having any. No wonder you’re fighting all the time.
In long-term relationships, the quality and frequency of sex usually waxes and wanes, which is perfectly normal.
However, if you enjoyed an active and mutually satisfying sex life together previously, and now the very idea induces low-grade nausea and fantasizing about the single life, you’ve definitely reached an important crossroads.
6) Divorce fantasies
All married couples have their moments where the idea of bopping down to the courthouse to end it all is very alluring.
There’s a quick and easy cure for that. Spend 15 minutes on a dating app. You’ll still have the occasional divorce fantasy, but a mere quarter of an hour on Plenty of Catfish will bring you crashing back down to earth.
And be honest. You still love your boo. Except when they leave wet towels all over the bathroom floor.
7) Unfair division of labor
This beef is so common it’s pretty much universal. On its own, it’s not that big of a deal.
But if you have other relationship issues brewing as well, one of you not emptying the dishwasher again could very well spark an all-out war.
You feel unheard, ignored, and, most of all, disrespected.
8) You feel disrespected
Aretha Franklin knew what was up.
If you’re being dismissed by your partner when you voice your concerns or they’re deliberately causing you to doubt the future of your relationship, you are being disrespected.
If your person is abusing your trust or not prioritizing the relationship, that is a super-duper-can-see-it-from-space reddest of red flags.
It can be very easy to lose sight of yourself in a situation like that. Any independent sense of identity is hanging by a thread, so you miss the good old days when you weren’t just one half of a whole.
9) Loss of individuality
You may get a wave of nostalgia while reminiscing about your carefree, feral single era. You pine over the wonderful, halcyon days before you were just part of a set.
Now you’re just afraid of turning into that couple in matching tracksuits who sleep in separate bedrooms. It sure feels like your other half’s mission is to test your patience 24/7.
10) Baseline annoyance
You can’t pinpoint the exact moment it happened, but one day you wake up and every single thing your other half says or does is like fingernails down a blackboard.
On some level, you may realize you’re being grossly unfair to your partner because their behavior hasn’t changed, just your attitude toward it.
That doesn’t change the fact that the way they turn on a lamp is totally cringe.
But that beautiful stranger over there looking your way is obviously perfect and probably knows how to close a damn cabinet door.
11) A roving eye
A roving eye can be acceptable under some circumstances. The problem is roving lips, hands, and other appendages.
If you give in to this urge during a moment of weakness, be aware that the decision whether to continue your relationship may be moot if your partner finds out you betrayed them.
Broken trust is hard to mend. Not impossible, but no easy feat, either.
12) Broken trust
A relationship cannot survive without trust. Your partner may have done something totally shady and, for reasons that perplex you as much as it does everyone else, you’ve forgiven them.
Even still, you don’t trust them as far as you can throw them. Facts.
You find yourself interrogating them under a spotlight to ascertain their whereabouts. You’re checking their phone (even though it makes you feel kind of icky) to catch them in a lie or someone else’s bed.
You’ve hit a communication breakdown. If you love each other and want to salvage the relationship, you’ll both need to sharpen your communication skills.
13) Unhealthy communication patterns
In many instances, relationships suffer because of communication issues that one partner acknowledges, while the other one denies a problem exists.
The second person may seem borderline delusional, but their reaction springs entirely from fear. I know I buried my head in the sand once or twice because I was terrified that everything was unraveling and there was nothing I could do.
It’s not that I wasn’t aware there was a problem, I just didn’t want to give it life by speaking it aloud. Instead, I allowed the most vicious of circles to perpetrate instead.
14) Stuck in a loop of negativity
It’s way too easy to get caught up in unhealthy patterns like incessant bickering interspersed with episodes of the silent treatment.
To break the cycle, you need to approach your partner in a loving, nonjudgmental manner. Avoid placing blame, and remind them you are teammates, not adversaries.
It’s helpful to remember that unhappiness is a feeling, not a fact—it doesn’t necessarily mean your relationship is on the rocks. You can be unhappy with your relationship even when there’s nothing going “wrong” and you still love your partner.
Sometimes these feelings are transient and relatively harmless because they are rooted in stressors from outside the relationship.
15) Stress from everyday life can impact your relationship
Life is hard. Most of us are just trying to get through the day. Stress has become an unfortunate given of 21st-century existence.
Money worries, job insecurity, and getting and keeping housing occupy far too many minds.
These persistent worries cloud every aspect of our lives, so spillover into your relationship is pretty much inevitable.
If you love this person, and abuse and betrayal aren’t part of your story, it’s probably advisable to work out your issues. Once you look at the big picture you’ll know what you want, now you just have to figure out how to get there.
So, what to do?
If you’re unhappy in your relationship, start the healing process by taking an honest look at yourself first.
You’re aware that you’re both unsatisfied and unhappy. You’re also still in love with each other, so you’ve got a lot to work with.
You need to involve your partner, as an ally and not an opponent, to find the best way forward.
While love may not conquer all, I firmly believe love comes to and stays with whoever offers it a comfy chair. Commit to improving your relationship, and invite love to come in and stay a while.