17 Subtle Signs You’re In A Bad Relationship

By David Small •  Updated: 07/12/19 •  11 min read

19% of Americans are unhappy with their relationships. While no one’s love life is perfect, if you’re stuck in a bad relationship, it’s time to look for a way out.

17 Subtle Signs You’re In A Bad Relationship

Photo by Vera Arsic from Pexels

Often we don’t even realize the rut we’re stuck in. But if the love is truly gone and you still haven’t opened your eyes, there’s a problem.

Here are some of the warning signs to look out for if your relationship is on the rocks.

Every relationship goes through a few rough patches. Everyone is bound to argue with their partner every now and then. But if you’re unhappy all the time then you’re not in a relationship, you’re imprisoned. If negative emotions define your relationship, clearly love isn’t conquering all.

Every interaction may have started to feel like a chore. If you can’t have a single conversation with your partner without getting into a fight, it’s time to step away. The transitional period will be hard, but at least you’ll eventually start feeling happy again.

It might be an imaginary ball game or a business meeting. If you’ve started looking for excuses to avoid spending time without your partner, you’re in the wrong relationship. If you’ve stopped doing the activities you enjoyed together, it’s a sign that things are going south.

As an escape, you might have started sharing your life with your friends. While this may temporarily comfort you, it will only increase the rift between the two of you. If this has become the norm in your relationship, it might be time to call it quits. If you’re determined to stay together, relationship counseling is a good option.

It’s okay if you didn’t tell your spouse about that $200 silk scarf you bought using their credit card. But if you’re going out of your way to being secretive, then it’s a sign you’re in a bad relationship. Especially if it’s something as basic as meeting a friend or a family member.

If you’re hiding everything from your partner to avoid another argument or out of spite, your relationship is toxic. Try being honest, and if your partner is still picking fights, start looking for a way out.

Related Article: 17 Signs To Know Your Relationship Is On The Rocks.

You could be sitting on the same couch and still feel completely alone. you no longer feel happy in each other’s presence, something needs to change. Please note, if weeknight dinners have become a silent, sullen affair, you’ve run out of things to say to each other. If there are no words left, there’s no relationship.

If being in a relationship is the same as being single, opt for the latter. You’ll be alone, but at least you’ll be able to avoid the growing toxicity of your strained relationship. Especially if this is happening in a new relationship, consider it a warning sign for you to escape. If you’ve been together for a long time, you can make more of an effort to dissolve the tension. If nothing seems to be working, it’s time to leave.

Even though physical intimacy is not the primary pillar of any relationship, it’s still important. Being physically intimate is a sign of being comfortable with one another. If there’s an emotional barrier preventing the two of you from getting close, try and get to the root of the problem.

There may not even be an underlying problem. If you just don’t want to be with your partner anymore, it’s a good enough reason to step away. This may especially be true for newer relationships. Even if you’ve been together forever, if the love is gone, you need to go too.

Have you ever felt like there’s something missing in your life? Maybe you dream of being an award-winning chef or you want to travel the world. If you feel like your partner is stopping you from succeeding, you’re stuck in a bad relationship. Of course, it’s one thing to be realistic. However, if your partner keeps telling you it’ll never happen, your relationship is becoming toxic.

It’s their job to support you, even if you’re aiming for outer space. There’s a difference between helping you sort out your plans and just outright laughing them off. If you feel like they’ll never understand your perspective, then it’s time to stop trying. Figure out what’s more important for you: pursuing your dreams or holding on to an already-strained relationship.

Whether it’s the postman delivering your mail or your next-door neighbors, you think everyone’s in a happy relationship. You might have started feeling bitter because you’re the “only one” who is trapped.

You don’t really know anyone’s story. However, if you’re really unhappy with your love life, you’re likely to look for ways to internally victimize yourself. You don’t have to stay in a relationship which is suffocating you. If you feel like the only way to be happy is to start fresh, then go ahead.

If a simple “how are you” is enough to make you burst into tears, then you’re dealing with some unresolved issues. Displaying your true feelings is a sign that you’ve been looking for the right person to vent to.

You may feel unsafe or uncomfortable in expressing your true feelings in front of your partner. This is a clear sign that your relationship has taken a toxic turn. If your spouse finds it difficult to take your emotions seriously or can’t cope with your changing temperament, it’s time to leave.

If you or your partner has resorted to monosyllabic grunts and looks of disdain, your relationship has hit the rocks. There may be a point in everyone’s relationship where they may not feel like communicating. However, it might be a chronic problem and you can’t say more than two words without sparking an argument. In this case, it might be impossible to salvage the situation.

Proper communication is essential for problem-solving. If you’ve crossed this point, then it might be time to accept that your relationship is over.

Every relationship has its ups and downs. You may be struggling to remember the good times when you were truly happy with each other. If you’re constantly living in the past, you need to re-evaluate your relationship. It’s important to remember that you’re living in the present.

Romanticizing the ghost of your relationship will only hurt you more. If a partner who once made you smile is now only bringing you down, your relationship is dying. It is ideal to leave early before you become permanently, emotionally drained.

Related Article: 15 Top Reasons Why Men Avoid Commitment.

“He’s not that bad”. “She’s not like that”. Stop constantly trying to convince your friends and family that your partner isn’t as bad as they think. If your relationship is so toxic that even they can see it, you need to reassess everything. It might be little things: laughing off your ideas in public or controlling what you say.

You might be blinded by your love for your partner, but it’s time to take off your rose-colored glasses. If your partner is toxic, then you need to stop making excuses for them. It doesn’t matter how much you love them. If you know, they’ll never see you as an equal, leave while you still can.

The two of you may be beaming in your Instagram post, but you might be crying inside. Constantly airing your “perfect” relationship on social media might just be your way of convincing yourself it’s real.  Rather than posting about your love life, try to fix it personally. It doesn’t matter if your 500 followers don’t see a picture of the two of you hugging.

But if the only times you’re actually displaying joy is for pictures, your relationship is struggling. One solution is to start posting less and conversing more. Consider it a reality check if you find that your relationship is nothing more than a photo-op. this may be especially true for new and young couples.

One bad relationship trait is if you’ve been struggling for a while and you’re too tired to keep trying. You may have exhausted all the ways of being happy again. From couple’s therapy to a long vacation, nothing seems to be working. You may even have reached the point where arguing takes too much effort.

If both of you are tired of trying to make it work, explore other options. Perhaps the one thing you can agree on is dissolving your relationship. If there are children involved, you might be concerned about them. Trust us, if you’re separated but happy, your children will be too.

Being in love means overlooking your partner’s faults, especially the small, insignificant ones. You may have started using your partner’s faults or weaknesses as weapons in arguments.

“You started it” or “you started seeing XYZ” are some of the ways your partner might try guilt-tripping you. Note if you’re constantly at risk of being demeaned by your partner, finding a solution will be difficult.

If you feel like your partner is capable of changing, stick around and keep trying. If you know they’ll never change, opt out before you lose all sense of your own self-worth.

Just because you’re together doesn’t mean your partner has special control over you. Even if you’re married, you have signed an ownership contract. If you don’t want to be physically intimate or do something else, feel free to say no.

Your spouse respects that, then you have nothing to worry about. If your “no” offends them, then say “no” to this bad relationship. If your partner is as controlling as you feel, they’ll find some other poor soul to manipulate.

Related Article: 17 Ways to Get Your Boyfriend Back After a Breakup.

Whether you dream of an entirely different life or just a different partner, it’s a sign that your relationship is in trouble. Everyone occasionally builds up fantasies, but it’s not okay if they’re too frequent. Especially if you’ve been married for a long time, it’s bound to happen. But if you’re in a new relationship, it might be time to resume your relationship search.

If your fantasies are because your partner doesn’t give you enough time and attention, talk to them. If you’ve tried spending time together and you’re still unhappy, your time together has come to an end. It’s advisable to at least try couple’s counseling to find a solution. If you’re 100% convinced that nothing will make you happy anymore, go your separate ways.

If you constantly find yourself thinking that you might be in a bad relationship, take it as a sign. If it’s just a phase, give it time to pass. It might just be because you and your partner are just caught up in work, children (if you have any) or something else. If you’re spending most of your relationship/ marriage wondering if you’re happy, then you’re not.

Relationship advice books and counselors may help you resolve your problems. If even they can’t help you and your relationship is just monotonous, you have two options: stick around in a compromised relationship or leave.


Now you know what the signs of a bad relationship are. Your bad relationship may have developed a fixed pattern and may not be a phase anymore.

Relationship books, therapists and even your loved ones can help you out. However, if your partner doesn’t want things to change or you feel stifled, then you might be at the point of no return. If all other doors are closed, free yourself from your toxic relationship.

David Small

is the founder and editor of relationshiptips4u. He is a dating, marriage & relationship coach, speaker, and author. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.
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