Key signs of an unhappy relationship
The thought that you are unhappy in your relationship has been with you for some time. You would like to change this, but you don’t know how to go about it. Later in this article, I will give you some useful tips. In this one, I encourage you to look at your romantic relationship. We all have a worse day sometimes, which makes us judge our partner much more harshly. All it takes is for us to come home tired and for him to forget to go shopping. The atmosphere becomes thick and it’s not long before this minor problem grows into a big deal. With this in mind, it is worth checking whether the key signs of dissatisfaction in a relationship apply to you too. I have highlighted the most worrying symptoms below.
Disengagement with partner
When a patient comes to me and says outright: I am unhappy in a relationship, we always look at how her bond with her partner is in the first instance. The disappearance of intimacy in a romantic relationship indicates a serious crisis. It manifests itself in the fact that you stop talking to each other. All the time you are probably exchanging messages that concern the organisation of everyday life. In contrast, you do not tell your partner about your worries, joys and emotions. A relationship flourishes when the bond is nurtured. We often neglect it, especially when the initial fascination has passed and the state of infatuation becomes just a fond memory. We think we know everything about our partner and assume that he or she knows us very well too. Think about the last time you sat down with him to talk about your emotions, joys and fears. Did you find time to listen to him and understand him? How often do you talk about your needs, which are not constant and change over time? Some fade away and new ones appear in their place. Conversation, tenderness, quality time for two – all of these things promote a nurturing bond with your partner. If intimacy is fading in your relationship, it’s a sign that it’s worth rebuilding.
If you feel unhappy in your relationship, ask yourself if you experience endless arguments with your partner. Some of these are about trivial things, such as who forgot to close the window at night (mosquitoes!). If the trifles grow and appear as big problems, there is probably something more behind them. Meeting needs in a relationship is very important. Each of us brings our own expectations to the relationship, which we often see as so obvious that we don’t talk about them. A partner who has grown up in a different home and environment may have different needs than we do. He or she will only recognise them when they are expressed explicitly (but beware – expressing a need explicitly does not guarantee that it will be met). When we fail to do so, communicate them in an aggressive way or express them but they are not met, anger arises. We give vent to this anger by having a row about dirty plates, things not taken out of the dishwasher or a window not closed.
I would like to point out that it is natural to argue in a relationship. The problem arises when they are with us every day and are triggered by trifles of no great importance. Not everyone knows how to argue, which results in a wave of mutual accusations and accusations. This attitude does not serve to resolve conflicts, but only contributes to their escalation.
Loneliness in a relationship is a common problem that many women face. Consider whether your partner is providing you with emotional support. We function best when a romantic relationship provides a safe haven where we can always moor and wait out life’s storms. When problems arise at work, in the family home or in parenting difficulties, we know that our partner will show us care and interest. Emotional security allows us to lead a happy life because it provides an optimum level of stimulation. When we face adversity alone, our nervous system is on alert. It tries to detect potential threats in order to take appropriate action in time. This results in prolonged stress, insomnia, impaired concentration, general irritability and a drop in mood. If your partner does not show you emotional support and you are accompanied by feelings of loneliness, it is worth changing this.
No plans for the future together
If you are unhappy in your relationship, you are less likely to make plans that include your partner. He or she will do the same. Dissatisfaction with your romantic relationship means that you don’t think about what you will do together at the weekend. You don’t analyse which travel agent’s offerings might satisfy you. You make career decisions, including a possible trip to another city, on your own without asking your partner’s opinion.
Lack of affection from your partner
Couples who report a high level of satisfaction with their relationship are usually keen to show affection to each other. They hold hands, hug and kiss each other in greeting. They address each other with kindness. Falling in love is conducive to the practice of affectionate gestures; later on, their number usually decreases, but they do not disappear completely. If they are missing from your relationship, you are probably going through a relationship crisis.
Lack of sex in a relationship
Passion is the important glue of a relationship. When mutual desire fades, you begin to distance yourself from your partner. Lack of sex promotes relationship breakdown and increases the risk of a break-up. Fading passion becomes particularly annoying when your main love language is touch.
Why am I unhappy in a relationship – the reasons
Dissatisfaction in a romantic relationship has various causes. Try to remain objective and look at the problem from a broader perspective. It is not easy to admit to ourselves that we have misjudged the situation. It takes courage. Sometimes the problem is not with our partner, but with our deficits coming to the fore. Confronting the uncomfortable truth allows us to regain our sense of agency and take action that can save our relationship. If you are asking yourself: why am I unhappy in a relationship, read this part of the article.
Using different love languages
Women who come to my office often say: I am unhappy in my marriage because my husband rarely hugs me/doesn’t go out to the cinema with me/doesn’t bring me gifts from business trips. I have deliberately listed a number of explanations because different ones appear. Furthermore, I wanted to illustrate some love languages better in this way. If touch is most important to you, you probably identify most with the client who suffers from infrequent hugging. Conversely, you don’t understand my client who dreams of delegation gifts. There are 5 different love languages, which I described in more detail in my earlier article. We usually speak one leading one, sometimes we are bilingual. The other forms of showing love seem foreign and incomprehensible to us. Conflicts in a relationship often arise because we do not speak the same language as our partner. He shows us love by driving his daughter to kindergarten every day. We, on the other hand, hug him at every possible opportunity. He is sorry that we do not appreciate his efforts (the language of small favours). We suffer because he rarely embraces us (language of touch).Like Gary Chapman, who developed the concept of the 5 love languages, I encourage you to get to know your way of communicating feelings. Then contrast it with the methods your partner uses. Your dissatisfaction with your relationship may be because you can’t decipher his messages. He, in turn, does not understand your love language. It is never too late to expand your knowledge in this area;)
Lack of assertiveness and needs communication skills
I love him, but I’m not happy with him – if you say these words often, take a look at your needs. I know this is a difficult task, many of us can’t name them. We wonder what our frustration stems from. We don’t know how to put it into words, but we are accompanied by the conviction that something is missing/something is bothering us.… If we recognise our needs, we can assertively communicate them to our partner. Unfortunately, we often fail in this task. We don’t know how to set healthy psychological boundaries. We also lack communication skills. Our statements take on an unpleasant tone, which moves us away from agreement. We accuse our partner of not hugging us/sharing household chores with us. Verbal aggression triggers a defence mechanism in him/her, making him/her close off to our messages. Instead of getting closer, we get further away. Instead of fulfilling needs, we argue. Many of us make the mistake of exploding and justifying our behaviour with the words: I’m right, he deserved it. Let’s remember that boundaries in a relationship work both ways. Each of us has the right to set our own boundaries and expect the other person not to cross them after they have been communicated. We ourselves would not want our partner to call us into the bathroom at 1 a.m. to help him push the bathtub. We all need rest sometimes. If we get out of a position of our own emotions, we may find that we postpone the joint cleaning/repairing of a fault until tomorrow to recuperate.
Note: it is worth noting which chores are ‘assigned’, to each of you, and how often they are done. But that’s a topic for a separate entry.
Placing too many expectations on your partner
I am unhappy in the relationship – these words are often uttered by my female clients who put too many expectations on their partner. Sociologists often point out that there used to be a whole village for meeting needs. Today, we would like them all to be taken care of by our partner. This is unrealistic for several reasons. Firstly, we have different types of needs. Some are characterised by the fact that they can only be met by parents. If they have not done so, he or she will not replace them in this role. I would like to mention, as an example, the unconditional love of a mother for her child and support in building a healthy self-esteem. This does not mean that our childhood needs are to remain unmet forever. We can address them by nurturing our Inner Child by building a loving Inner Parent. Secondly, boundaries in a relationship apply to both parties. Sometimes we resent our partner for not going to the book fair with us. We feel sad that he or she does not share our interests. However, let’s remember that everyone is entitled to their own passions. If he prefers to admire old cars and you prefer to attend author meetings, agree to explore your hobbies with friends. Nurturing your relationship with other people will benefit your relationship. This is because a healthy relationship is characterised by a balance between the need for connection and autonomy. Thirdly, we often underestimate what the other person offers us. We constantly want more, faster and better. E.g. we ask him to share household chores with us. He cleans the bathroom, after which we criticise him for the stains on the mirror. The partner has complied with our request, has taken over some of the tasks. By appreciating him, we will encourage him to continue to participate in household chores. By criticising, we discourage cooperation. Are the stains on the mirror worth the arguments and fatigue we feel when we do everything ourselves? Fourthly, a day has only 24 hours. If we expect our partner to go to work, clean the flat, cook dinner, take us on a romantic date and read a book to the baby, we are in for a disappointment. By ourselves, we are not able to fulfil all these points. Let’s ask our partner to meet only those needs that are realistic in nature. Let us not expect him to predict which holiday resort will not receive a drop of rain for the next two weeks.
Unmet childhood deficits
If you are unhappy in a relationship, take a look at your childhood. Did your parents meet all your emotional needs? Many of us carry certain deficits from home. Unconsciously, we strive for a partner to fill this void in us. E.g. we expect him to give us all his attention and give up his friends for us. We feel jealous when he goes out to play football with his friends. We feel like the little girl who, as a child, waited for her parents to pay attention to her and devote more time to her. The recognition deficit makes us want our partner to constantly compliment us, recognise our talents and efforts. Our approach can prove tiresome for him. He is not there to satisfy all needs. The aforementioned ones, which are closely related to childhood deficits, are worth addressing alone.
Non-secure attachment style
Human relationships are characterised by the fact that we use an internal “programme” in them. This is formed in early childhood on the basis of the relationship with the main attachment figure, usually the mother. The responsive parent recognises the daughter’s emotions, accepts them and responds to them in an appropriate way. He tries to meet her biological and emotional needs. A secure attachment style is then formed. We learn that other people can be trusted and it is worth letting them know how we feel and what we need. Sometimes we grow up in a home where some needs are met and others are ignored. Alternatively, the parent responds to them in the wrong way. This results in the formation of an anxiety-ambivalent attachment style. As adult women, we try to tune in to our partner to gain their approval, interest and love. Sometimes we adopt a strategy of self-sacrifice, overruling what is important to us. Then there is the avoidant attachment style, represented by those of us who have experienced lack of interest and rejection in the family home. A parent usually tries his best to bring up his children, but sometimes he does not know the adaptive methods because no one has shown them to him. Sometimes he hears from an authority figure that it is a good idea to leave his child in a room to cry and go to sleep. He acts in this way with good intentions. Unfortunately, he unknowingly harms his child in this way. If you represent an avoidant attachment style, you probably shy away from closeness and commitment. Your relationship does not get to the next level because you are unable to open up to your partner to tell him or her about your emotions and needs. This breeds frustration and dissatisfaction with the relationship.
Like attachment style, self-esteem is formed in the family home. Parents who do not suppress our actions towards autonomy develop a sense of agency in us. If they do not react fearfully to the attempted separation from them, which is a natural stage in everyone’s life, they support our self-esteem. The messages that come from them are extremely important. Do they encourage us to challenge and fulfil ourselves? How do they react when we fail? If we grow up in an environment that constantly criticises us, we tend to have low self-esteem. We are happy that a man has paid attention to us at all. We don’t set any expectations or psychological boundaries for him, because subconsciously we think we don’t deserve love and a good partner. Low self-esteem is conducive to entering toxic relationships. Sometimes a romantic relationship turns out to be quite supportive, but we tell ourselves that he will abandon us because of our defects. We worry about every wrinkle, falling hair and pimple on our chin. This is because we assume that we do not meet his high standards because of our own imperfections.
A toxic relationship
Not every relationship turns out to be a good and supportive one. Sometimes we invite the wrong men into our lives. We often choose them subconsciously, following a pattern we are not aware of. Jeffrey Young noted that as we learn about the world, we develop certain thought patterns that constitute an internal navigation system for adult life. They are designed to help us function in society. Some of these are adaptive in nature. Our pattern may be the belief that it is a good idea to ask people for help in difficult situations. Unfortunately, others turn out to be faulty and maladaptive, even though we survived in childhood thanks to them. Young’s schema chemistry explains why we bond with the wrong men who hurt us. We subconsciously choose what we know well, even if it harms us. Destructive patterns cause us to enter into a relationship with a selfish man, for example. Our partner focuses only on his own needs. He ignores ours unless it is to his advantage to satisfy them. If our parents behaved selfishly, we are attracted to people who exhibit this personality trait. A relationship with a narcissist is a common problem among those of us who have learned to tune into others in the family home. For example, our mother catered to our needs when we met her expectations. We do the same with men. We try to earn their love and interest. We subconsciously choose partners who are cool and emotionally unavailable in order to replicate a familiar scenario.
Relationship out of habit
It seems that when we enter into a relationship that gives us happiness, we have won the lottery. From then on, we can enjoy the moments we spend together. We forget that the initial euphoria is the result of the love cocktail that floods our brain. Chemicals contribute to idealising our partner and increasing passion. After two years or so, the levels drop, and then the mundanity of life reaches us. If we can talk to each other and nurture intimacy, while being attentive to our partner’s needs, chances are we will move on to the next stage. Love is a conscious choice, it has nothing to do with momentary impulses. Sometimes we lose this feeling somewhere, struggling with an excess of responsibilities. We do not find the time to nurture the bond. The partner becomes emotionally distant to us. Our relationship turns into a relationship of habit. We are aware that we no longer love each other, but at the same time we do not want to separate because we have become accustomed to each other’s presence. This results in a lack of satisfaction with the relationship.
Excessive tendency to idealise the partner at the beginning of the relationship
I am unhappy in a relationship – if you often say these words, consider whether you show a tendency to over-idealise your partner at the beginning of a relationship. When we look at a man through rose-coloured glasses and ignore alarm signals, there is a good chance that the romantic relationship will disappoint us. He is constantly late for dates, he corresponds with someone during dates, and we delude ourselves that he will love us. We tell ourselves that he is so busy and ambitious. It’s worth learning to see people as they are. If someone ignores us, let’s not make excuses for them. Let’s confront this uncomfortable truth and not take it personally. Let’s not let it negatively affect our self-esteem.
Why are we stuck in an unhappy relationship?
When a woman comes to me and says: I am unhappy in a relationship, I talk to her to find out more about her relationship and her life. Today we are struggling with two problems. Sometimes we part ways with our partner too hastily, without trying to save the relationship. On the other hand, we are stuck in a failed relationship for years. Paradoxically, good relationships in which intimacy has been neglected at some point are more likely to fall apart. Toxic relationships have a magnetism about them that prevents us from leaving. Below are potential reasons why we are stuck in an unhappy relationship.
A healthy self-esteem helps us to assess the situation realistically. We realise that our partner is not the only man with whom we can walk through life together. When a relationship becomes a source of suffering, we are not afraid to end it. Low self-esteem makes us see him as our only chance to avoid loneliness. We do not believe in ourselves and that we deserve a better partner who will love us. So we stick to the one who has caught our eye, even if he or she cheats on us or is violent.
Lack of a sense of agency
If your parents have taken care of you in everything or criticised you at every turn, you probably have a low sense of agency. By internalising family scripts, you may have believed that you can’t manage without a man by your side. This encourages you to be stuck in an unsatisfying romantic relationship. You are unable to walk away from him because you don’t believe you can cope. You think you can’t support yourself, carry heavy groceries into the house, fix the car, etc. You underestimate your own resources, and you don’t recognise many of them. You have not learnt to use your social support network.
A conservative attitude to life
Some of us cope well with the changes that happen in life. Others have great difficulty accepting them. Our approach depends largely on psychological flexibility. Rigidity of thinking does not make it easier to confront changes. It makes us try to avoid them, even if we are bothered by the current situation. It encourages us to stay in a relationship that does not make us happy. It also makes it difficult to work towards repairing the relationship. This is because it is impossible to make changes in a relationship when we are struggling with cognitive rigidity.
Shared children and affairs
I am unhappy in the relationship, but I am not ending it for the sake of the children, I want them to grow up in a complete family. I hear these words very often in my office. Many of us sacrifice our own happiness for the sake of the family. We forget that children are not served by a tense atmosphere at home. Prolonged conflict between parents also takes its toll on their lives. Divorce often makes children feel better. At last, they return to a home free of arguments and mutual accusations. They manage to build up a good relationship with each parent, even though they live separately.
What does getting stuck in an unhappy relationship lead to?
If you are stuck in an unhappy relationship, you condemn yourself to a lonely relationship. In theory you have a partner next to you, but in reality you cannot count on their emotional support. You share your joys and worries more often with a friend than with him. Continuing in a relationship that does not meet your needs, you feel a growing frustration. Often, we don’t allow ourselves to be angry, causing us to become depressed. An unhappy relationship also means endless arguments, lack of fulfilment and betrayal, which can happen when someone who shows interest in you appears on the horizon. I am not urging you to make hasty decisions. My assumption is that a romantic relationship is worth working on. However, sometimes the actions taken don’t result in improvement, in which case think about your well-being.
How do I tell my partner that I am unhappy in the relationship?
Your partner is not necessarily aware of how you feel. He or she may not know that the relationship has stopped giving you joy because you haven’t told him or her. Open communication of needs and emotions helps to repair the relationship. It is an extremely effective tool provided we know how to use it. When expressing our feelings, we sometimes get carried away by impulse. We start to accuse and criticise our partner, making it difficult to reach an agreement. It is recommended that open communication is based on assertiveness. Step out of the position of your own emotions and then there is a greater chance that you will be listened to.