As far as bad feelings go, nothing takes the cake quite like feeling like your partner is unhappy. After all, relationships are supposed to be comfy and secure, so this suspicion can really turn life upside down. Are things coming to an end? Did you do something wrong? These thoughts can spiral out of control, and leave you wondering if it has anything to do with you.
Of course, paranoia often makes things feel way worse than they actually are. It could be your partner is just stressed or working through some private issue, and you’re reading way into it. A quick conversation with them can reveal that nothing’s wrong, and that you were being silly all along.
If your partner remains all cold-shouldery, however, it can be tough to shake that nagging worry. “The challenge is when your partner says it doesn’t have to do with you, but their behavior says otherwise,” says psychiatrist and relationship expert Dr. Scott Carroll, in an email to Bustle. “Your partner may not be lying, but may be in denial or unaware that they are actually angry or unhappy with you.”
Even if they aren’t sure what’s up, it helps if you can recognize the signs of a problem. Read on for some of them, and be sure to follow up with your SO if any hit close to home.
1. They’re Staying Late At Work
It can be a bit disconcerting when your partner suddenly starts living at work. Of course, nine times out of ten it’s only because they’re busy. But if they do it often enough, it’s easy to feel like they’re avoiding you. To test it out — and give you peace of mind — Carroll suggests scheduling a date night. “If your partner resists spending time together or can’t/won’t connect when you do … then you need to start asking direct questions about how they feel and what is going on,” he says. It’s much better than worrying, and way better than assuming the worst.
2. They’re Grumpy All The Time
While everyone gets grumpy, this is especially true of men who are unhappy in their relationship. You may notice your SO is short-tempered or irritable for seemingly no reason. “This is what men tend to look like when they are unhappy,” Carroll says. He may also feel like he’s stressed out or annoyed, but doesn’t quite know why. If your partner is a dude, these could be signs that something’s up — especially if he’s directing the grumpiness at you.
3. They Don’t Bother To Argue
4. They Stay Up Way Later Than You
Couples who are in sync often go to bed at the same time. You know, so they can have sex or cuddle or lie next to each other whilst reading. So take note if your partner is going to bed early or staying up late, Carroll tells me. If they aren’t up working or doing something important, it may be they are simply avoiding you because they’re unhappy in the relationship.
5. He Or She Is Begging For Attention
Are you the one who’s been busier than usual? If you haven’t been giving your partner the attention they need, they may start to show you by being a bit… needy. “Chances are [they’re[ hungry for a little attention, and [are] therefore resorting to the grown-up’s version of sleeve-tugging,” Shearn said. This might come in the form of clinginess, or them asking for “help” with mundane tasks.
6. They No Longer Confide In You
If your SO’s friends hear good news well before you do, it could be your partner no longer views you as their go-to person. It could also be that they don’t trust you, or feel like you don’t care about what they have to say. If this has been a problem throughout your relationship, then yes — it probably is you (or at least your habits) that are making them unhappy.
7. They Find You Very Annoying
Your SO used to think all your quirks and eccentricities were endearing. But now they only view them as eye-roll worthy, or even downright annoying. This shift in opinion is often a sign that your partner is checking on out, according to relationships writer Ossiana Tepfenhart on TheBolde.com. Of course you’re doing nothing wrong, but your unhappy partner fails to see it that way — and that’s not OK.
8. They’re Hating On Your Family
It’s not necessary for your SO to love all your friends and fam. But it is necessary that they respect them. If they aren’t — or worse, if they are critical of them — it could point to a problem. “It shows disinterest but it’s also unacceptable behavior,” marriage therapist Becky Whetstone told Brittany Wong on HuffingtonPost.com. So if your partner does this on the regular, have a chat with them to see what’s up.
9. You Don’t Know Their New Friends
10. They Seem Down In The Dumps
Carroll tells me that a depressed partner may be just that — depressed. But it could also be that they’re realizing the relationship isn’t making them happy, and it’s getting them down. Again, the only way to to know is to ask.
11. They Never Ask About Your Day
Your partner should be able to spare a moment of their time to ask about your day. If they can’t be bothered, you have ever right to question them, as well as every right to assume something’s up. “When someone checks out of a relationship, they stop caring about their partner as much,” marriage therapist Aaron Anderson told Wong. Don’t let this issue go undiscussed.
But, like I said above, these examples can be signs of other issues — depression, anxiety, etc. So don’t jump to conclusions. If you sense that your partner is unhappy, and think it may have something to do with you, then sit down for a chat. Sometimes a heart-to-heart is all it takes to get things back on track.