Are you in love but relationship is not working anymore? It breaks our hearts when we see two people go through this. Earlier, not a single day went by without you calling each other almost five times. But now you barely say a ‘hello’ after coming back from work. All your arguments easily turn into shouting and fighting matches. Anything and everything your partner does drives you crazy.
Slowly, you are starting to believe, “I am in a relationship but not happy with myself.” But the moment you think about ending this relationship, you start missing them more than ever. Memories from the good old days come rushing back. While envisaging a life without them, you see a blank, dark space in front of your eyes. Well, aren’t you in a pickle? What do you do when you love someone but don’t want to be with them?
We are here today with a bag full of advice to solve your ‘in love but relationship is not working’ issues. Guiding us with expert insights, we have communication and relationship coach Swaty Prakash who has a decade-long experience in training individuals of varied age groups to deal with their emotional health through powerful techniques of communication and self-help.
5 Signs Your Relationship Is Just Not Working
Swaty tells us that you might notice many signs you are forcing your relationship, but here are the most important ones:
- Your instinct: If your gut is telling you that something is wrong, listen to it
- A clear shift in your dynamic: Were you more communicative or expressive before, and now are distant and not even apologetic about it?
She says, “It is like a natural partition that happens in a relationship without any external influence. There could be a number of reasons for the relationship not working and each one would show different symptoms. But a common factor in all of these would be frequent fights, blame games, dealing with stonewalling, and staying away from each other without missing each other.”
We asked our readers about the landmark moments which notified them that their relationship has hit a wall. And it opened a can of worms. We heard about emotional unavailability, spending time away, outgrowing each other, or the appearance of a third person.
And the most common response was, “I’m not happy in my relationship but I love him/her. Is there any way to get out of this rut?” Of course, there is. If you are in love but the relationship is not working, your situation is still amendable. Before getting into the problem-solving part, let’s go over the copybook signs your relationship is just not working:
1. Showing the other person down
Studies show that most couples argue about more or less the same topics but those who opt for a solution-oriented approach to conflicts are happier. If you and your partner foster such a mindset where winning is everything, your relationship is probably moving toward a pitfall. Blame-shifting and silent treatment can help you win the battle, but ultimately you will lose the war. Swaty gives us a list of toxic traits among couples that eventually add up to an unhealthy relationship dynamic:
- Belittling the efforts of your partner and lack of appreciation
- Gaslighting and trying to control each other’s every move
- Being inattentive to the other’s emotional needs and dismissive of their concerns
- Finding faults in each other
2. Huge gap in communication
When you love someone but it’s not working, bad communication could be a major reason behind it. Perhaps you bottle up the negative emotions for the sake of harmony. Or every time you sit to discuss an important issue, it immediately takes a turn toward an ugly fight. According to a study, only 12.5% of the participating couples showed the feature of efficient communication while 50% had a predominantly conflictual interaction style.
And it’s not just about lack of regular, mundane conversations or sharing a laugh or two. The signs of non-verbal communication such as no eye contact, staring at your phone while talking, and constant cringing along with furrowed eyebrows – all these speak a lot about your perception of your partner.
Related Reading: 11 Ways To Improve Communication In Relationships
3. Trust issues making their way
You can’t exactly say that your relationship is sailing smoothly if you can’t trust your lover completely. As long as you can feel emotionally vulnerable, validated and nourished, and physically safe with your partner, it’s in good shape. But if you live with a streak of separation anxiety and always worry that they might hurt you badly, something’s amiss.
There is a severe lack of faith if you miss two phone calls and they start throwing suspicious looks at you as if you are sleeping with someone else. An earlier incident of infidelity can also make way for trust issues to crawl steadily into your relationship. When the trust factor is missing, it’s possible that two partners could be in love but relationship is not working anymore.
4. The lost connection
Do you still dare to be vulnerable around each other or care enough to remember your partner’s birthday and other little things about them? Does it bother you when you both spend too much time apart? I guess not.
Even when you are sitting next to each other, it probably seems like they belong to a distant land a few lightyears away. Given that emotional intimacy in your relationship flew out of the window, it can lead you to think, “I’m not happy in my relationship but I love him/her…just not the way I used to.”
5. A new crush enters your life
Sometimes, feeling attracted to another person hampers your emotional investment in your relationship. All your attention and fondness are diverted to someone else, leaving an impact on your bonding with your partner.
Let’s hear it from Hannah, a 29-year-old reader from California, who’s been facing a similar struggle, “We love each other but can’t make it work despite many efforts. And I believe the charming fellow who recently joined my book club has a role to play in it. Compared to him, my partner comes across as pretty washed-out. Perhaps it’s only an infatuation. But I just can’t seem to shake off these feelings.”
Related Reading: Can You Fall In Love With Someone Online Without Meeting Them?
9 Things To Do If You Are In Love But Relationship Is Not Working
So, your relationship is going through a rough patch. All is not lost yet. We still believe there is hope. You know why? Because you said, “I am not happy in my relationship but I love him/her.” And there goes your silver lining in an otherwise adverse plot. If you are willing to reverse the fate of your relationship, we are here with the remedy. Couples who are in love but relationship is not working, these 9 suggestions are for you:
1. Communicate. And really listen this time
Recently, my friend Nancy was venting about her relationship frustrations, “I love him but he can’t give me what I need. He is ever so busy with work, he just has no time for me.” When you too are stuck in a ‘we love each other but can’t make it work’ circumstance, there is no substitute for clear communication.
Now the irony is that fixing a lack of communication is also communication. Sit down with your partner and ask how invested they are in the relationship. Once you both are on the same page about it, the progress can begin. According to a recent study, regular small talk and verbal and non-verbal gestures of affection could be highly effective. It also refers to the exchange of positive remarks and the importance of ‘we’ pronouns for conflict management.
Our expert suggests, “Set some ground rules. Discuss the annoying things that irk you about one another. Set some time aside to spend together every day. Explore each other’s emotional and psychological needs. Make a CEO day where one person becomes the CEO of the relationship and talks about all the things that they want changed. And the role changes the next week.”
2. Say one good thing about each other
As the relationship ages and you get habituated with each other, you forget to appreciate your partner. A tendency to take the other person for granted sets in. An invisible wall appears between the two of you and you both happen to think, “I am in a relationship but not happy with myself.” Here’s a beautiful activity to make your loved one feel a little bit special every day.
The drill is to say something nice to your partner, be it verbally or through written notes. You could leave a post-it on the refrigerator every morning with a small appreciation message. It could be as simple as how pretty they were looking last night at the party or that you relished the dinner they prepared for you. If nothing else, this practice will put a smile on your partner’s face for sure.
3. Try to find a way to work on the glaring red flags
There is hardly any problem that can’t be solved with genuine efforts and intention. The same goes for your relationship red flags. In case you are in love but relationship is not working, get to the root of your troubles and address them one by one. Be ready to be a sport when your partner points out a flaw in your attitude that’s been bothering them. Make a list of the things that are fixable, that both of you agree to actively work on.
The other category includes the matters that will be difficult to change. So, you have to learn how to live with those over time. You might say, “I love him but he can’t give me what I need in terms of intellectual intimacy” or “She doesn’t care about my feelings about a particular value system I hold dear”. Fair enough! But as long as you want to stay together, you have to make some room for accepting the other person as they are.
Swaty says, “You cannot fix your partner’s flaws. How you maneuver through that flaw is more important. It depends a lot on your communication style. For example, instead of saying, “You make me feel so lonely and miserable when you don’t respond to my messages”, say, “I feel lonely when you don’t call”. That immediately shifts the entire conversation from blame to feelings.”
Related Reading: 20 Questions To Ask Your Partner To Build Emotional Intimacy
4. When you love someone but it’s not working, try couple’s activities
Sophie knew her relationship was treading on thin ice but the thought of breaking up pulled on an invisible thread of connection every time. She shares, “Until three months ago, all I could think was that I love him but he can’t give me what I need. But we still wanted to give it one last chance and went for couple’s counseling. The therapist suggested that we don’t focus on the negatives for once and try some simple and fun activities together with an open mind to enjoy each other’s company. It took two months but it worked!”
If it worked for Sophie, it may benefit your relationship as well. From now on, you have to make it a point to try at least one couple activity every day and I won’t take “We love each other but can’t make it work” for an answer. Is it really that difficult to go for a long walk hand in hand with the person you love? How about doing a reading marathon together, or a Netflix night?
Okay, let me make it even easier. You don’t have to plan anything special. Simply share a few household chores with your partner. It will help you get back the rhythm in your relationship. You could also try out a romantic spa getaway, go cafe-hopping in your city, or get completely drenched in the rain together and kiss. And if you want a deeper fix, give the 30-day relationship challenge a shot.
5. Get the old romance back with more date nights
Are there signs you are forcing your relationship all over the place? It’s time to rekindle the flame of romance to feel connected with your partner all over again. And honestly, what’s more romantic than a beautiful date night? Getting decked up, going to a fancy restaurant, some flowers and candles to set the mood – doesn’t it sound perfect?
If you both are worn down by a busy work schedule or you’re just a couple of sloth bears, too lazy to go out, you can bring date night at home and do what you love doing the best. You can go dancing in your living room or cozy up on the couch, eat homemade ramen, and binge-watch Friends – anything that brings you two closer!
6. Work on your own insecurities
You might feel you are in love but relationship is not working because you haven’t entirely healed from your own traumas and insecurities. If you have any unresolved issues, it will always have ripple effects on all the other fronts of your life, especially in the relationships that are close to you. Such issues make us behave irrationally sometimes. Even some of our decisions are made based on our personal stories.
If your partner doesn’t know about your internal conflicts, they might be totally clueless and insensitive to why you behave in a particular way. So, before you go ahead and project your insecurities on them, find a way to deal with these agitating thoughts. It’s important to put them out in the open and if your partner is empathetic enough to help you in this journey, nothing like it.
Swaty says, “To begin with, it is important that you tell your partner about the things that you are struggling with. Sometimes they might not be able to understand you completely or the place you are coming from. In that case, give them literature to read or tell them with absolute clarity about your issue and its repercussions in your life. If you are already consulting a therapist, it would be a good idea to take your partner along for a few sessions.
“Let the therapist talk to your partner. This way, they will understand you better and empathize with you at a deeper level. Also, sometimes when you open up about such private emotions, they might also have the strength to open up about their personal problems and shortcomings. Together, you discover a new vista to grow and work for the betterment of your relationship.”
Related Reading: Dating Someone With Anxiety – Helpful Tips, Dos, And Don’ts
7. Spend more time in the bedroom
It had been two months for Mark and Stephanie, and all they’d managed were the rare good night kisses. Every time Mark tried to initiate sex, Stephanie would shun him with one excuse or the other. Rejected, again and again, he decided to have a heart-to-heart with Stephanie. She opened up about her reluctance around sex.
Apparently, Mark had been way too busy with his life and hadn’t been affectionate toward her. Holding back sex was her way of getting back at him for being so insensitive. They were taken aback to see how a minor misunderstanding had turned into a game of assumptions.
“They are distant and don’t care about my physical needs.” – If you feel this way about your partner, you have to first discuss what makes them so indifferent to physical intimacy. When two people are in love but the relationship is not working, rebuilding their emotional connection should be the top priority. But that doesn’t negate the importance of physical intimacy in keeping a relationship alive.
If there are no glaring issues as such, you can put the bedroom activities in your schedule, at least until you feel the urge and craving for your partner spontaneously. There are millions of ways to spice up your sex life, starting from role-playing to dirty talk to a naughty game of truth and dare. The newfound closeness will help you feel differently in a situation when you love someone but don’t want to be with them.
8. Show affection and gratitude
Showing your love doesn’t need to wait for occasions. You have no idea how small gestures of love and affection can bring a change in your relationship dynamic. For instance, remind them you love them every once in a while or say ‘thank you’ to acknowledge their efforts. Non-sensual touches like a peck on the cheek, holding hands, or brushing their hair can go a long way.
Arranging little surprises that you know they would like wouldn’t harm you either. Try to understand their love language. If they believe more in action than being vocal about their feelings, you could give them a hand with something or make them breakfast in bed. When you love someone but it’s not working, these efforts can give your relationship a kick for another long inning.
Hear out what Swaty advises, “There is something called a love bank and couples often make small gestures to invest in this love bank. For example, if your partner looks outside the window and says, “The weather is really nice today”, you can respond in two ways. You can say, “Yeah it is”. Or you go stand near them, put your head on their shoulder, and say, “Yeah it is”. This kind of intimacy can create a huge difference in a broken relationship.”
9. Think about the future if there are signs you are forcing your relationship
It’s time to get real. Are you putting all these efforts without them being reciprocated? You try and try to communicate and to get through them. But it’s like talking to a wall. When you love someone but don’t want to be with them, reconsider the reasons why you feel so repulsed. Do you honestly see a healthy future with this person?
If not, perhaps it will be better to close this chapter here and turn a new leaf. This will not be an easy decision to make. But sometimes life puts us at a turn where we have to pick one way, a way that makes us happy. We asked our expert, “When I am in a relationship but not happy with myself, how do I know if the relationship is worth saving?”
Related Reading: 10 Steps To Help You Move On From A Serious Relationship
Swaty says, “If the relationship is just a habit for you, you would probably feel like “I can’t live without the person”. So, ask yourself if you want to be with this person out of love, compulsion, guilt, or habit. Even if it is love, a relationship is a two-way process. If your partner feels they have outgrown the relationship, it is time for you to move on too. If you worry about the relationship more than you enjoy it, think hard if you really want to be in it.”
- When you are in love but relationship is not working, try to improve communication with your partner
- Use positive affirmations to make each other feel good
- Find a way to work on the red flags and your own relationship insecurities
- Engage in couple’s activities
- Be more affectionate toward your partner
We hope this article sheds some light on the ways to feel more connected with your partner when your relationship has fallen into a pit. A bad phase is not always the end of the story. As long as you believe, “I’m not happy in my relationship but I love him/her”, there is still hope. And we won’t let you give up on your love story without a fair try. If our suggestions are of any help, come back to us for more amazing date night ideas in a couple of months, or sooner.
It’s a possibility. Sometimes two people could be in love but their opinions and goals in life don’t align. When you want absolutely different things, being in love may not save the relationship. It doesn’t mean you disrespect their choices; you just don’t see a future with them.
Yes, you can. Apart from the reasons stated above, if your partner is verbally or physically abusive or manipulative in any way, it might make you feel distant even though you still have love for them in your heart. But if you stay in the relationship despite all the negativities, it will affect your mental and physical health very badly.
In a situation like this, there are two options open in front of you. Either you have a discussion with your partner regarding the relationship issues. If they are on the same page and willing to work on the relationship, you give it a try one last time. In case they are indifferent to your concerns and emotional needs, it’s better to move on than to torture yourself in a dead-end relationship.