Relationships are hard work. At first, things may seem easy when you’re in the cupcake phase. Love, romance, and a genuine connection seem to flow like water in the beginning, but over time, these things may dwindle to the occasional show of affection. Unhappy couples result from not being mindful of the effort it takes to maintain affection for the long haul.
The easy solution to an unhappy or toxic relationship is to leave it, but many people don’t. This situation is because deep down, they either want to save the relationship or they don’t want to be alone. In many cases, a human’s innate need for companionship is what keeps them in a bad partnership.
Whether you’re reading this to figure out if someone in your life is in an unhealthy relationship or if you’re reading this for yourself, these ten therapist-curated signs can help you identify unhappy couples.
10 Red Flags of Unhappy Couples, According to Therapists
1. Passive aggression becomes common.
Unhappy couples have passive aggression down to a science. They don’t want to get into a full-out argument, but they want to make a point. They want their significant other to feel that point. In many cases, an annoyed partner may not even be aware of passive aggression.
Passive aggression comes in certain degrees or levels. It can be mild, in which case it’s easy to miss (for a while). However, if it’s a substantial degree, it can lead to full-out arguments anyway, causing even more unhappiness. Things become worse as the passive-aggressive behavior continues without a resolution. It’s common to see discontent couples be aggressive about passive-aggressive behavior.
2. New experiences rarely happen.
Remember when it seemed like you were sharing something new all the time with your partner? The thrill of a shared, unique experience kept the relationship alive and exciting. You were probably in love and loving it. The spontaneity of it kept you excited because you never knew what was around the corner.
Unhappy couples can find that those new experiences aren’t happening anymore. One big reason is that they probably aren’t spending as much time together. Some of it is just that the magic hides underneath resentment or depression. Either way, a lack of new experiences is one of the signs of unhappiness.
3. Unhappy couples often compare current behaviors to past behaviors.
Daydreaming about the way a partner used to be is a tell-tale sign that someone is unhappy in their current relationship. This wishful thinking means that there is nothing new to dwell on. The connection is stagnant, or worse. The significant other has changed.
It’s not uncommon for both partners to reminisce about the way the other person used to be. When one partner changes, the other partner can often mirror the behaviors. They can be unaware that they’ve changed also. It’s worse when the couple decides not to talk about what they’re missing. This miscommunication leads to two miserable people who may have trouble admitting they’re no longer happy.
4. The excitement in the relationship is replaced with mundane living.
Unhappy couples may find that their relationship is no longer exciting. Fun dates, secret rendezvous, spontaneous trips, passionate sex, or even unique gifts have been replaced by work, kids, chores, or other boring life activities. Even worse, it may have been replaced by drugs or alcohol.
For couples with a troubled relationship, it can be hard to bring excitement into a relationship they aren’t excited about. The spark just isn’t there anymore. Doing things that once were exciting can now feel like a chore. It’s hard to get back to a relationship that keeps you on your toes once you hit this point, but it’s not impossible. Both parties must be willing to put aside their differences and try.
5. Date night has disappeared.
Going on dates is an essential part of any relationship. It’s a way for couples to connect, build a friendship, and keep the fire burning in a relationship. The date doesn’t have to be some grand event. As long as it involves the couple spending quality time alone with each other, it’s a perfect bonding experience.
When couples aren’t going on dates anymore, you can be sure that one or both parties are unhappy. Dianne Grande, a licensed clinical psychologist, wrote, “when there is strong resistance to planning couples time, I begin to wonder whether both partners are avoiding time alone together. If this is a long-standing pattern, it is worth thinking about whether one or both of you have a fear of emotional intimacy and deal with that fear by always including other friends or family in your free time.”
If date night has disappeared from the relationship, that’s a definite sign that something is wrong and not dealing with that can zap the happiness away fast.
6. Disagreements on who is right or wrong happen often.
One of the most prominent signs of unhappiness is constant disagreements or arguments. It can be about something as significant as being accused of cheating or something as minor as whose turn it is to do the dishes. When someone is in an unhappy relationship, everything has the potential to get on their nerves.
Many disagreements happen because unhappy couples don’t talk about things like they need to. This discontent could be the source of unhappiness – a lack of communication. When communication breaks down, neither party is expressing what they want or need from the relationship. This outcome can lead to resentment, anger, and disappointment, all of which contribute to unhappiness.
7. Unhappy couples don’t know each other’s schedules.
People don’t need to know their partner’s schedule minute for minute, but they should have some general idea of where their partner is during the day. This is because happy couples take an interest in each other’s lives. In fact, happy couples probably text each other about exciting things during their days, which allows them to know where their significant other is.
Then you have the couples who seem to have no clue of their significant other’s whereabouts. Even stranger, they seem to not really care. They might also change the subject away from their significant other. This is a glaring indicator of an unhappy couple.
8. Flirting and touching becomes a thing of the past.
Sometimes couples can get so used to each other that they feel like they don’t need to work hard to keep each other. That means little things like gentle whispers in the ear, playful touching, and flirting don’t happen anymore. On its own, this could just be a sign of a relationship that needs a refresher but paired with other symptoms. You can bet that the couple is unhappy.
This is especially true if they don’t touch each other at all. The absence of hugs and kisses says a lot. They may even go out of their way to avoid each touching each other. This is a sign of severe relationship problems.
9. They don’t have a lot of meaningful conversations.
Healthy, happy couples talk about any and everything. They love talking to each other because they’re friends as well as lovers. Conversations can often get intense and intellectual when couples mesh well. It’s almost as if they’re on the same wavelength.
This is why it would be strange if they don’t have meaningful conversations. One-liners and one-word answers indicate tension between the two. There may even be a lack of eye contact when they talk to each other. This means that there are things that need to be said but are being held in. These suppressed feelings and expressions can lead to a lot of unhappiness.
10. They’re always on their phones in the presence of each other.
Have you ever tried to talk to someone who is always on their phone? You quickly get the feeling that they aren’t really paying you any attention, mainly because they won’t even look at you. In most cases, that’s what’s happening, exactly.
Couples who are always on their phones when around each other are merely not paying each other any attention. This could be because they’ve lost interest in each other or, as mentioned in the previous reason, they’re avoiding each other. Either way, paying more attention to social media than a significant other is a clear sign of unhappy couples.
Final Thoughts on Knowing the Signs of Unhappy Couples
No matter how much they may try to hide it, unhappy couples are apparent. Everything can be a giveaway, including their words, actions, and even their glances. Interestingly, couples who are unhappy will stick together and not try to fix what’s making them depressed. Sometimes, they may not also be aware of how miserable they are.
Some couples grow so accustomed to living the way they do that they don’t even recognize the signs no matter how obvious they are. Whether you’re reading this article for a friend or you’re reading it to try and discover if you’re in an unhappy relationship, these ten signs will clue you in on what’s happening.