Relationships are not easy- they take much hard work, endure many rough patches, and require two people to find common ground to build a healthy and happy connection. While this is possible for some, other couples struggle in this endeavor.
Most people assume that if you are in an unhappy or toxic relationship that it’s an easy and quick fix: ‘Just leave,” they say. However, it isn’t easy to leave someone you love no matter how hard things get. And because all relationships struggle, we often cling to the hopes that it will get better. Regardless of what your situation is, whether you are reading this out of curiosity, reading it for yourself, or reading another couple, therapists say these are the signs of an unhappy and unhealthy relationship.
1. You constantly criticize each other.
Jor-El Caraballo LMHC says a major sign of a failing relationship is when the two partners begin to criticize each other all of the time. Relationships require a certain level of compassion for one another, and while there will be times in which we will become upset when this becomes a continuous cycle, it’s a bad sign. “Rekindling Connection: The Couple’s Guide to Reviving Love“ offers actionable steps to reignite the spark and strengthen the bond in your relationship.
2. You compare your current relationship to the past.
When a relationship begins, things are different for all of us, that is an undeniable truth. But, when you completely lose the spark and can only cling to the past, it’s a sign that something needs to change, says Anne Crowley, a psychologist from Austin, Texas.
3. It feels more like a chore than a pleasure to be around each other.
Relationships are not supposed to always feel like work. In between the inevitable struggles that all relationships face, we are supposed to have wonderful moments of love and, at the very least, enjoy each other’s existence. When it becomes nothing but struggle, the relationship is deeply suffering.
4. You stop having sex.
Sex isn’t everything, but it is most definitely important. At the very least, intimacy and love-making from time to time are necessary to keep the bond strong. However, when intimacy fades, it can break down that foundation.
5. You are defensive against each other.
Caraballo and Shane Birkel, LMFT both agree that when a relationship becomes a war in which you are both constantly on defense, it’s an indicator that communication has gone out the window. When communication goes, it can be hard to keep the relationship afloat. For deeper insights into effective communication, “The Art of Heartfelt Conversation“ delves into techniques that can transform the way partners speak and listen to each other.
6. You stop feeling like partners.
In a relationship, it’s important to feel like a team. While it’s normal to lose sight of this, according to Crowley, it’s important to get the partnership back. “Tell and show you care,” she said. “Pause for a moment when your partner comes home to welcome and embrace him or her. Be affectionate. It helps forge connection and closeness. It’s a reminder that he or she is your one and only.”
7. You fantasize about finding an out.
Everyone thinks about what their life would be like a single from time to time, but when those thoughts become a downright and neverending fantasy, there is a problem. Oftentimes, these fantasies are a sign that you don’t feel loved or connected in your relationship, but instead, you feel neglected.
8. You stop caring.
While most people assume that an unhappy couple is simply marked by arguments, at least when you are arguing, you are fighting to stay together. When both partners or even one-stop caring enough to argue, Birkel says that “Losing motivation to work through things with each other is a really bad sign.” Understanding your partner’s emotional world is crucial. “Emotional Mapping: Navigating the Landscape of Love“ provides a unique perspective on understanding and empathizing with your significant other’s emotions.
9. The relationship grows stale.
To keep the spark alive, we have to do things and be present with our partners. When time together turns into watching television, playing on your phone, and being completely disengaged, psychologist Alicia H. Clark says this is a sign of boredom and disconnection.
10. You are keeping secrets.
Marni Feuerman, PsyD says that even if it’s not infidelity, harboring secrets from each other shows that you’ve stopped communicating and working together on issues. In turn, both parties begin to resent each other, rather than work as a team.
11. Conversations always end as arguments.
Communication is everything and without it- the relationship will inevitably fall apart. While it’s normal for conversations to turn into arguments from time to time, when every conversation ends as an argument, it shows the two of you no longer want the same things. “Break the Cycle: Strategies to Overcome Relationship Ruts“ can be invaluable for couples feeling stuck in repetitive patterns and looking to break free and rediscover the joy of companionship.
12. You are stonewalling each other.
Stonewalling is what happens when you shut down. And shutting down completely makes it impossible to work through conflict. For example, if you try to discuss something, and your partner begins yelling and then walks away, that is stonewalling.