Because relationships involve more than one person, they're always going to be a bit complicated. There are bound to be miscommunications and misinterpretations along the way, in addition to the fights and celebrations, the ardent, heartfelt, serious conversations and the nights spent sitting on the couch in your pajamas or cleaning up baby vomit. Those misinterpretations or differing perspectives can be subtle. There might be some unexpected signs your partner isn't satisfied, even if you think things are going well, that you probably shouldn't just ignore. Though you might not realize that the way they're acting is because they're feeling unhappy or unsatisfied in your relationship, picking up on those signs that something might not be right can help you move forward.
"Many of these things can show up in a relationship that is fixable and workable — if both people want that," Evie Shafner, a couples therapist, tells Romper by email. "But if your partner wants out, your body may know before your mind does, so be your best friend, have your own back, get lots of support from the people who love you, and take a stand to be in a relationship where you feel safe and loved most of the time...because you deserve it!" Whether their dissatisfaction ultimately leads to the end of your relationship or you decide to work together to address the concerns and patch things up, it's always worth knowing that they might not be as happy in the relationship as you are.
1. They're Being Nice And Civil
Of course you want your partner to be generally nice, polite, and respectful when interacting with you and other people, but if there's suddenly a detachment or formality to it, it might be because they're pulling away or don't feel like they can react to things as they would like to. Lisa Bahar, a licensed marriage and family therapist and a licensed professional clinical counselor, tells Romper by email that if connection has been replaced with more of a "cordial" response, that's not a good sign. You want your partner to be able to react to things genuinely, rather than in a more cold, civil manner.
2. Their Apologies Don't Seem Sincere
Partners fight and sometimes hurt one another — it's a part of life. If your partner's apologies sound insincere when you make up, however, it might mean that they're not as invested in the relationship as you are. "[T]heir apologies feel empty, sort of like lame excuses that are missing the true empathic response we long for," Shafner says. This kind of response is a sign that one partner might not be happy.
3. It Seems Like Everything Is Going Perfectly
While it might sound counterintuitive, if it seems like everything is going perfectly, it probably actually isn't. "Ironically, for things to be going well there have to be signs that it is not," Dr. Claudia Sheftel-Luiz, PsyaD, a psychoanalyst, tells Romper via email. "Why? Because that’s the nature of relationships and of life: complexity, ambivalence, conflict and tension. If none of these dynamics are getting processed, the relationship has no challenges — no place to grow to. Almost as if it is lifeless — growing, fertile relationships need movement." Occasional conflicts can be good for your relationship, even if they're stressful and difficult at the time.
4. They Ignore Any Potential Conflict
Again, conflict can be an important part of healthy relationships, so if your partner refuses to acknowledge any issues, that's not a good sign. "Instead of discussing our issues, [w]e avoid them, and go into our hiding place," Dr. Saudia L. Twine, Ph.D., a marriage and family therapist, says by email. "This causes the other person to feel unheard and unsupported."
5. They're Giving You A Lot Of Space
It's good for couples to each have their own individual interests and spend time apart from one another, but if they start to let you have way more alone time than they used to, that might mean that they're checking out of the relationship. "While these aren't bad things in and of themselves, if they have changed from before it could be a sign that your partner simply prefers being away from you," Bina Bird, a marriage and family therapist, tells Romper by email. You and your partner should both encourage each other to have other interests, but those interests shouldn't replace the time you spend together.
6. They're Fine With You Skipping Family Functions
"Your partner doesn't insist you go with them to family functions or other events that you usually don't like going to but go because your partner has wanted you to go to," Bird says. "Again, this could be a sign that your partner isn't happy and prefers to go alone to events." While it might be OK if you miss something informal everyone once in a while, if they don't want you there even though they used to always bring you with to family events, that's not a good sign.
7. They Always Have Everything Under Control
Bahar also notes that when someone is doing everything right and ticking all the tasks off their to-do list without ever really expressing their feelings about things, that can be a sign that they're not satisfied in the relationship. People aren't usually happy all the time, nor do they never share their feelings or thoughts about what's going on in their life, so if your partner seems to just be going through the motions, that might be an indicator that things aren't quite right.
8. They're Not As Good Of A Listener As They Used To Be
Understandably, you want your partner to listen to what you have to say, whether you're relaying the events of your day or expressing something that's super important to you. If it seems like they're not really listening or they're more interested in talking about what they want to discuss, it might not be a good sign, says Shafner. It might be that they're going through something themselves, but it also might be that they're just not all-in or satisfied with how the relationship is going.
9. They Stop Nagging You
"After periods of discord, husbands can feel like things are better and back to normal when their wife stops nagging them," Theresa Herring, a licensed marriage and family therapist and couples therapist, tells Romper in an email exchange. "But, unless other things have changed, it can be a sign that she's thrown in the towel. For better or for worse, nagging is a sign that she cares and is trying to get you to engage with her." If the nagging has stopped, it might mean that your partner isn't as happy in the relationship as they could be — and that they might be on their way out.
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