It can be hard to admit, even to yourself, that you are not happy in your relationship with your partner. Whether it’s constant fights, a growing distance between the two of you, or just a gnawing feeling in your gut that something’s wrong, unhappiness can take different forms.
This article examines the causes and effects of an unhappy relationship.
Causes of Unhappy Relationships
- Emotional pain: An unhappy relationship will begin to cause more depression, frustration, irritability, and exhaustion than happiness.
- Conflict: Partners will begin to view each other through the lens of contempt, frustration, and criticism. Instead of finding refuge in the relationship, they begin to armor themselves during interactions with their partner. Emotional or even physical conflict in unhappy relationships can make it harder to function and uphold responsibilities in other roles.
- Withdrawal: Not only do people experience more tension and conflict due to the relationship, but they feel as if they are managing it all on their own. In unhealthy relationships, partners become adversaries, and the other person will usually begin to withdraw effort into helping things get better.
- Frustration: People in unhappy relationships tend to hold on to the fantasy of what it could be by distorting their reality. Their efforts to distort reality, and not accept each other for who they are, contribute to frustration and constant disappointment.
- Negativity: Your relationship will begin to feel like it’s weighing you down or imbuing negative energy into how you approach work or other relationships.
- Less focus on each other: In an unhappy relationship, you will notice a desire to deprioritize your partner and instead focus your time on other interests and affinities.
- Reduced intimacy: In unhappy relationships, partners also tend not to make time to connect intimately–either physically or emotionally.
- Broken communication and connection: Communication is markedly broken in unhappy relationships as partners will not work through problems or address hurt feelings. Because there are significant problems in genuinely connecting, these partners will begin to live parallel lives from each other.
- External focus: Partners will seek support and get their needs met through other people and areas.
Improving Unhappy Relationships
- Identify what’s wrong: First, identify what is not going well in the relationship and determine whether these are deal-breakers.
- Decide whether your relationship is worth saving: You need to decide whether to invest energy into salvaging your relationship, primarily if you’ve devoted considerable time to the relationship. This is the time, to be honest with yourself.
- Communicate honestly with your partner: Shift your defensive stance of critiquing and blaming your partner for being more vulnerable. Share the aspects of your relationship you would like to improve and how you both contribute to its current status. Research also suggests that showing gratitude in your relationship more often helps both parties be more comfortable speaking about relationships issues.
- Find solutions together: Be solution-oriented. Remember that you and your partner are aligned against the problem. Don’t let issues separate you both. That means that when a problem arises, you must consider how you will get through it as a team.
- Take time apart: If things don’t get better, time apart can provide distance and perspective on the relationship. You can create a new path by giving each other space–either alone or together. Time apart can allow each of you to grow, discover what you want, and choose for yourselves how you want your life to look, instead of defaulting on your relationship out of convenience.
Several factors can cause you to be unhappy with your partner, leading to pain, conflict, negativity, and frustration. It can cause a downward spiral in your relationship and affect other aspects of your life, such as work.
If you are unhappy in your relationship, you need to identify the issues bothering you, discuss them with your partner, and work together to find solutions. Eventually, you have to decide whether your relationship is worth saving. Taking some time apart can help you and your partner put things into perspective and make a decision