Often, feeling unhappy in a relationship presents itself in a creeping, subtle way, rather than being clear or straightforward. It’s not fun to realize you’re no longer in the honeymoon stage, but the sooner you accept the reality of the situation, the faster you can work toward a solution, whether that’s talking to your partner, potentially going into therapy, or even getting out of the relationship if it’s unsalvageable.
So, if something feels off but you’re not entirely sure how to diagnose it, here are 12 signs that the dissatisfaction is spreading, and you might want to do something if you want to keep the relationship alive.
Happy relationships energize us and we look forward to spending time with the person. In other words, we’re generally—not always, but more often than not—excited to see and be with our partner. “However, when you’re unhappy, you’ll often feel disinterested and de-energized by the relationship and not look forward to spending time together,” says licensed psychologist Dr. Wyatt Fisher. Keep an eye out for this kind of malaise, which can signify deeper problems.
You Look for Excuses Not to be Home
In other words, you’re making yourself not available, and instead busy with work or friends as often as possible. “Being called into work, having to take that extra business trip, or having family/friend matters to consume your attention, are all welcome distractions that can feel like a relief,” says Audrey Hope, a celebrity relationship expert.
You Find Yourself Telling Little Lies
“You tell everyone, including yourself and your partner, that things are fine, but deep down you might know that’s a lie. You’re not feeling overall well or joyful, and your words don’t match your truth,” says Hope. When you talk about your relationship, pay attention to how you really feel when you speak these words. It’s a clear sign you’re unhappy if you know you’re lying, and just generally feel crappy when someone asks you how your S.O. is and you start thinking about the state of your relationship.
You’re Tempted to Stray
Another sneaky sign that you might not even realize you’re doing is flirting a lot more when you’re out or at work. “We all want to feel loved and desired,” says Fisher. “When we aren’t feeling that in our relationship we may be at an increased risk of getting that need met somewhere else.”
You Don’t Share as Much Anymore
Before, you used to come home and share all the intimate details of your life with your S.O., but lately, you’re less inclined to do so. “Perhaps you’re turning to friends to talk because you feel like your partner is just ‘not going to get it,’” says licensed therapist Wendi L. Dumbroff. “This is a two headed arrow: You turn less to your partner because you don’t feel understood, and the very act of turning to others creates more distance between you.” A vicious cycle, if you will.
You’re Distracting Yourself with Booze or Drugs
Maybe you only used to drink socially, but now find yourself drinking more, whether it’s by yourself at home, or at a bar. “If substances, chemicals, and alcohol have become your form of stress relief, it’s time to stop denial and ask yourself why you’re leaning on these unhealthy vices to escape,” says Hope.
It’s Hard to Make Yourself Tune In
You used to pride yourself in being the best listener and now, you just can’t seem to bring yourself to really care about hearing what your S.O. have to say. Dumbroff says this isn’t just a sign that you’re unhappy in the relationship, but a signal that you just don’t have much in common anymore—interests, hobbies, work, or otherwise—and a rift is growing between you.
You Feel Put Down
Unhappy relationships often entail a lot of negativity, says Fisher. “If you regularly feel down about yourself, your partner, and/or your relationship, then you’re probably in an unhappy relationship.” However, it’s important to find out where this negativity is really coming from, because sometimes we might blame our relationship or partner, but it could also be work, friends, personal goals going unmet, or other things. If you feel the negativity is pervasive enough that you can’t pinpoint where it’s coming from, it’s a good idea to talk to a trusted friend, counselor, or therapist.
You Get Emotional Around Friends and Family
“People who love you, like your parents, ask you what they’ve asked a million times before, “How are you, sweetie?” and suddenly you burst into tears,” says Hope. Have you done this? Do you do it often? That’s a sign that you know deep down something is wrong, and are just waiting for the right safe person to vent about it to. Try opening up and seeing if you can get support from others outside your relationship before making any major decisions.
You Avoid Connecting Physically
When you see your S.O., do you go straight to the couch to avoid kissing or hugging them? When you’re lying in bed together, do you pretend to fall asleep or make up excuses not to get intimate? “Women especially, when they’re not feeling emotionally connected to their partner, find it hard to engage with them physically,” says Dumbroff.
You Become Jealous of Everyone
Hope says this is because you think everyone around you—your postman, neighbor, girlfriends, boss, whoever—are in a great relationship and begin to envy them. “You think everyone else is happy together and you’re left out. This illusion, but the story is really affecting you because of your own dissatisfaction,” says Hope.
You’re Constantly Irritable
You know that feeling when someone can’t do anything right, and everything they say or do is annoying? “You actually want to get away from them, and you feel relieved when you find out they have to go away for business for a few days. Generally, when we love and care for our partner, we don’t feel relief when we ‘get rid of them for a few days.’ Rather, we miss them, and look forward to re-engaging,” says Dumbroff. This is one of the biggest red flags, and should trigger some serious soul-searching if it’s the state you’re in all the time.