“A deadness occurs in relationships when people are no longer willing to tell each other how they really feel.” — Shakti Gawain
It is a known fact that we humans cannot thrive in isolation of spirit, mind and body. Therefore, being in a relationship is part of being alive. This is also perhaps why so many people choose to stay with their partners even when they are unhappy in a relationship.
While relationships may be essential to experiencing life fully, they rarely come easy. Even the strongest relationships face challenges. These challenges, whether fleeting or long-standing, might leave you feeling unhappy in a relationship. And that’s perfectly normal. Every couple experiences a sense of discontent in their relationship at some point.
The question that you need to be asking is: what to do when unhappy in a relationship? First and foremost, rather than dwelling on such feelings, one must inspect them thoroughly. A healthy relationship is not built by fixating on the past but by working toward creating a meaningful way out. And how exactly do you do that? We’re here to help you figure out just that.
What Do You Do When You Are Not Happy In Your Relationship?
What to do when unhappy in a relationship? The first step toward dealing with unhappiness in a relationship is to identify the issues triggering it. Introspect and try to zero in on the things that are bothering or annoying you. There could be several factors causing unhappiness, keeping them to yourself will only lead to pain, conflict, negativity and frustration.
Roseline and Adam were expecting their first child, and the pregnancy brought to the fore a lot of issues that they had both never even acknowledged before. For instance, Roseline became acutely aware of how little Adam contributed at home because of his busy work hours. He missed doctor’s appointments, did not find time to look after her nor made an effort to lighten her load, leaving Roseline feeling unhappy in a relationship while pregnant.
“Even though a lot of Adam’s actions were driving me up the wall, I chose not to address them. Add to the mix the volatile hormonal flux, and all the pent-up angst and unhappiness just erupted one day. I had a major meltdown and wanted to walk out. Adam, however, kept his cool and got me to spill out my feelings. Once we know what the core issue was, finding a solution became easier,” she says.
If you too are unhappy in a relationship but in love and often find yourself wondering, “I’m not happy in my relationship but I love him or her. What should I do?”, know that there is nothing that honest and transparent communication cannot solve.
It could be intimidating but it is necessary. Improving communication in a relationship is the first step toward addressing the unhappiness you may be wrestling with. Upon hearing that you’re feeling unhappy in a relationship, your partner may get angry or feel hurt. However, not sharing your true feelings is akin to being dishonest with your partner.
To make sure that this confession doesn’t leave your partner feeling insecure about the future, you can try to reassure them that the objective is to work at making the relationship better and it’s not a harbinger of doom for your togetherness. For instance, if you’re at the “unhappy in my relationship but don’t want to break up” stage, you can tell your partner that, and then, work together to find solutions.
Eventually, look at all the available options to improve, put things into perspective and make decisions. On the other hand, if you’re unhappy in a relationship but scared to be alone, then it makes sense for you to reassess whether you truly see a future with your partner or not. Staying on in a relationship for the wrong reasons is often more detrimental in the long run than the pain of breaking up. If you’re in an unhealthy or toxic relationship, getting out may be the only way to reclaim your happiness.
Only you and your partner can decide whether your relationship is worth saving. If you do feel that the core feelings of love, trust and respect exist but have been overshadowed by transient unhappiness in a relationship, there are many ways to improve an unhappy relationship.
Related Reading: Should You Stay In An Unhappy Marriage With Kids?
7 Ways To Improve An Unhappy Relationship
Nowadays, we believe that people are dispensable. That’s why the moment we start feeling unhappy in a relationship, we might get restless. What to do when unhappy in a relationship? Is it best to break up and move on? Or should you stay and work on improving the quality of your relationship? Can you go back from being unhappy in a relationship to being happy again? Questions such as these may begin to weigh on your mind.
However, one important question often gets overlooked: what makes one unhappy in a relationship? Think about it, and you’ll find that you start feeling unhappy in a relationship when you focus all your attention on your partner’s wrongdoings. Or when you try to change who they are to make them fit into your perception of what an ideal partner should be like.
All of this can cause confusion and hurt, resulting in strained relationships. Here’s a catch though, you can tweak your partner’s behavior by changing your approach. We bring you 7 ways to improve your relationship. So, stop wondering what to do when unhappy in a relationship and follow through.
1. Unhappy in a relationship? Build effective communication
What to do when unhappy in a relationship? Like most common relationship problems, this too can be resolved by inculcating honest and open communication in your dynamic. Try and make time every day to discuss deeper or more personal subjects.
Lack of communication is often the root cause of feeling discontent and unhappy in a long-distance relationship. Is that something you can relate to? Do you often find yourself thinking, “I’m unhappy in my relationship but don’t want to break up”? Then, make efforts to bolster communication. Make more effort to get on video calls, text each other more often, and explore different new avenues and apps to keep the spark alive in a long-distance relationship.
However, poor communication isn’t an issue that impacts couples in long-distance relationships alone. Even if you and your partner are physically close, you can end up feeling emotionally distant. What makes one unhappy in a relationship despite the love and togetherness? Often the answer is losing touch with one another.
In that case, you can always start with small conversations and ask relevant questions. Overwhelming them with your worries and irritations the moment they want through the door won’t help. Practice effective speech by engaging your partner in a conversation about their interests. To begin with, inquiring about their day or just about how they’ve been feeling will help them open up. You can move on to deeper conversations, and eventually, share with them that you’re feeling unhappy in your relationship.
2. Acknowledge your differences if you’re unhappy in your relationship
Becky’s relationship with Terry started on a high note. They were poles apart yet bound together by sizzling chemistry. However, as the honeymoon phase of the relationship began to fade out, the differences that they both found endearing became a cause of constant contention.
“I’m not happy in my relationship but I love him. What should I do? I don’t even know if we should stay together, we make each other miserable,” she often caught herself thinking. The fact of the matter is that no two humans can have identical thoughts. We all have our own opinions and perceptions about things. If you let these differences, big or small, become bigger than your togetherness, you will always find reasons to be unhappy in your relationship.
This common hurdle can be overcome by acknowledging your differences, and not viewing them as a detriment to your relationship. Talking about your differences in a spirit of reconciliation will help you fix strained relationships. Identify, acknowledge and accept these differences to understand each other better. You will get to know the thought process behind why your partner thinks a certain way or how they reached a certain conclusion or opinion of something.
Related Reading: Fixing a Toxic Relationship – 21 Ways To Heal TOGETHER
3. What to do when unhappy in a relationship? Show daily appreciation
What makes one unhappy in a relationship? If you explore the reasons that make people feel discontent with their relationships, feeling ignored or disrespected will emerge as a common theme. In there lies the answer to what to do when unhappy in a relationship. Feeling appreciated is a key element for a happy relationship.
This appreciation has to be a two-way street. Couples often find themselves in a state of resentment because both partners begin to take each other for granted and don’t acknowledge or appreciate the little things one may be doing for the other.
Then, whatever little appreciation comes their way begins to seem long overdue. If you or your partner is unhappy in your relationship, this feeling can be mitigated by actively working on making each other feel seen, heard and valued.
Thanking your partner even if it is for small things will encourage them to do more. Everyone responds well to praise. You never know they too may be feeling unhappy in a relationship because they feel you don’t appreciate all that they do for you. You can always start small but remember to be consistent, a happy relationship is everyday work.
4. Forgive each other to overcome feeling unhappy in a relationship
As humans, we’re all prone to making mistakes, nobody is perfect. Some of these mistakes, even if inadvertent, might cause damage to a couple’s bond, leaving you unhappy in a relationship. You might even end up having conflicting emotions like “I am not happy in my relationship but I love him”. And that’s okay!
However, if you want to move on from this state and strengthen your connection, then you must practice forgiveness in the relationship. Let go of the past grudges and mistakes, don’t sweat the small stuff, and focus on the big picture. Most importantly, once you forgive them, don’t bring up old issues again and again. Especially when you’re having a heated argument.
A little bit of forgiveness goes a long way to increasing satisfaction in a relationship. If your partner has made an objectionable mistake, then talk to them without accusing, shouting or cursing. Keep calm and help them understand how you feel about the mistake they’ve made.
5. Learn to fight better
Thinking about what to do when unhappy in a relationship? Consider this advice asap! Fights, arguments and differences of opinions are integral parts of a relationship. Sometimes, it is good to agree to disagree and move on because conflicts have a direct impact on your relationship satisfaction.
One of the secrets to stop being unhappy in your relationship is to not be intimidated by fights and differences, and instead, focus on adopting healthy conflict resolution techniques. More often than not, you will realize that the issue seemed bigger in your head than it really was.
As Roseline, who was grappling with a sense of being unhappy in a relationship while pregnant, learned from her meltdown, once you identify the core of the conflict, you can figure out a way to solve it and set yourself free from feeling unhappy in a relationship.
In the end, it boils down to a simple fact: it’s not the fights but the way you fight that shapes your relationship. Fight fair, be constructive, and remember that the purpose of any argument or disagreement should be to make the relationship better and not one-upmanship.
Related Reading: Healthy vs. Unhealthy Relationships – 10 Characteristics
6. Work on sex life to bring back happiness in your relationship
Are you unhappy in a relationship but in love with your partner? It may be time to take a fresh look at how things have been in the bedroom. Lack of sex could be a major reason behind feeling unhappy in a relationship. Good sex alone doesn’t make a good relationship but poor sex life can take a toll on a couple’s connection for sure.
There are many adverse effects of a sexless relationship that are often overlooked and swept under the carpet. However, they do tend to adversely impact a couple’s relationship. When intimacy is lost between two people, the rate of conflict shoots up.
If you identify that your sex lie is the reason why you’re unhappy in your relationship, then figuring out how to fix it becomes easier. You no longer have to lose sleep searching for an answer to what to do when unhappy in a relationship.
It’s time to reignite the spark. However, remember that takes a lot more than turning up the heat in the bedroom. To improve your sex life, start going on dates like you used to, flirt with each other, be playful and touch each other often, head to bed at the same time, and leave your phones and other gadgets behind. Sexual energy is life energy, it is important to work on it to keep the flames alive.
7. Soak up new experiences together
What makes one unhappy in a relationship? We’ve got one word for you: monotony. People tend to get into a routine once a relationship settles down. As the demands of day-to-day life catch on, couples forget to do things that make them happy or the ones that brought them together in the first place. You forget how adventurous you were, things that brought thrill and excitement.
The everyday routine might provoke thoughts like “I am unhappy in my relationship but don’t want to break up”. These thoughts can raise more questions than they answer. Pushing away uncomfortable emotions that tell you “I’m not happy in my relationship but I love him or her” isn’t going to help. Instead, acknowledge them and work on them.
One way to do so is to remember why you got together, the things you enjoyed doing together during those initial days of dating. Apart from these trips down memory lane, it’s also equally important to find new hobbies or activities that you can partake in together. Plan, explore and experience new adventures. It will help you see each other in a new light and rekindle the romance. Enjoying the time you have together will make you feel more connected and attracted to each other.
Just because the happiness has faded, doesn’t mean the relationship is over. Amidst unhappiness, it can be difficult to see the value in your relationship. It is only natural to have a desire to pack up and call it quits when you’re feeling unhappy in a relationship. But the fact that you stayed means that you’re invested in making it work. With the right amount of effort, you can turn things around.
Unless you’re unhappy in a relationship but scared to be alone, and that’s why you’re choosing to stay in a connection where you’re not loved, respected or valued. In that case, we’d advise you to put yourself first and do the work necessary to gain the strength to let go and move on.
Being unhappy in a relationship is not uncommon when you have been together for a long time. Working with a therapist or relationship counselor can be extremely beneficial in getting to the root of your unhappiness and fixing it. Licensed and experienced counselors on Bonobology’s panel have helped many couples struggling with unhappiness in their relationships. You too could benefit from their expertise.
It is absolutely normal to be unhappy in a relationship from time to time. But if it prolongs or becomes chronic, then it is time to introspect and work on the underlying issues triggering these feelings.
Lack of communication, poor engagement, feeling alone when you’re together, every conversation leading to a fight or not fighting at all, feeling hopeless about your future with your partner are the biggest signs of being unhappy in a relationship.