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How to Tell Your Partner You’re Unhappy & 18 Steps to Not Hurt Them

If your relationship isn’t going well, then you want to know how to tell your partner you’re unhappy. Here are the best steps you can take to do it right.

how to tell your partner you're unhappy in the relationship

When a person realizes that he or she is no longer happy in a relationship, they will start to think of ways in order to fix the problem. When they can’t do it on their own, they will turn to their partner and voice their concerns. As easy as that sounds, not many people use that option – even though they should. So, here’s how to tell your partner you’re unhappy without hurting them or making them feel guilty in the process.

A lot of times, people allow the relationship to deteriorate to the point of no return, just because they were too afraid to tell their partner that they were unhappy in the first place.

[Read: 16 signs you’re settling in an unhappy relationship]

Why are people afraid to talk to their partners?

A person can become unhappy in a relationship for a number of reasons. It differs from person to person and can be caused by different circumstances.

When you arrive at a point where you realize that you can’t find joy in your relationship anymore, you start to think about why it’s happening.

When you realize that you can’t fix it by yourself, you start to question whether the relationship is going to survive. This is the time when you’re supposed to talk to your partner and tell them how you’re feeling.

Many people refuse to talk about their feelings, but that’s not because they’re afraid. It’s usually because they feel confused and don’t know how to handle the situation.

It’s not just about what they want. Once they start to air out their concerns, it will become a problem for both of them. [Read: How to stop fighting in a relationship and 16 steps to really talk]

The consequences of telling your partner you’re not happy

Although it’s helpful to talk about your problems, telling your partner that you are dissatisfied with your relationship can be very emotionally taxing.

Some people refuse to tell their partners their feelings because they fear that they might hurt them. Others will try to push it aside thinking that the problem might go away on its own.

Most of these doubts come from their assumptions about what will happen once they tell their partner the truth. It’s understandable that their partner will feel hurt or even lash out once the reality of the situation hits them.

Sometimes, knowing what exactly will happen can be scarier than not knowing at all.

Are you capable of telling the truth no matter how much it might hurt your partner? Are you prepared to face the consequences in case they decide to break up with you after you tell them? [Read: 17 relationship deal breakers you need to fix to be a good partner]

So many things can happen once the subject of your connection and happiness is questioned. It all depends on what you want to do with this information. 

Do you want to tell your partner you’re unhappy so you can fix it?

Or do you want to tell them because you want some space?

Before you decide to tell them how you feel, you have to think about what you want in the long run.

There’s no easy way to tell your loved one that you are unhappy in the relationship. The point of being in a relationship is to be with another person for the sole purpose of growing together and enjoying the moments you have together. [Read: 27 signs of an unhappy person that are hidden behind a happy smile]

How to tell your partner you’re unhappy

If your relationship is making you unhappy, then there is definitely something wrong with your connection to your partner.

The only way you can fix it is by telling your partner how you feel and what you want to do about it. This will give them the chance to think about what they want as well and whether they feel the same way you do.

1. Think about why you’re unhappy

Before telling your partner that you are having some doubts about the state of your relationship, consider first why you feel this way. Spend a day or more really giving this a deep thought.

You can’t just tell them that you suddenly started feeling disconnected from them. You have to assess your own feelings so that you can process them together. [Read: The 28 revealing truths about feeling alone in a relationship and how to fix it ASAP]

2. Think of what you’re going to say

Don’t just present the problem to your partner and wing it. If you want to know how to tell your partner you’re unhappy in the relationship, make sure you take the time and use the right words.

When you just blurt it out, your partner may not completely understand what you want to accomplish. If there’s any misunderstanding, the situation will be that much harder to fix. [Read: 5 tips for choosing the right words to talk to your partner]

3. Prepare yourself for anything that can happen

Your partner may cry, get angry or even hurt you with their words. Finding out that the person you love is no longer happy *because of you* can be very painful to anyone.

Rational thinking might get thrown out the window because both your emotions are on overdrive.

4. Be the bigger person

No matter what happens, don’t get baited into a fight. This conversation needs to happen and its purpose is, to be honest with your partner. It is not meant to put the blame on anyone because you are both responsible for the relationship’s success.

Be calm and explain yourself clearly. Don’t use harsh words and always be mindful of your partner’s feelings. [Read: 23 dos and don’ts of relationship arguments]

5. Don’t leave anything out

Once your partner starts to get emotional, you might find yourself reluctant to say anything else. That’s a bad idea because not discussing the problem would mean that you caused your partner unnecessary pain.

You started the conversation about being unhappy with your partner, so you better finish it.

6. Ask your partner what they want to do

Although you have your own views on how things should progress, you need to ask your partner what they want. Respect whatever it is they need.

They may choose to end the relationship, or work harder at it. Either way, you need to discuss it thoroughly before taking matters into your own hands. [Read: Should we break up? 17 signs you’re past the point of no return]

7. Tell them what you want

It’s a two-way street. The reason that you’re unhappy is that you want something that isn’t there. It could be affection, sex, more time together, more time apart, or just about anything.

If you don’t want to break up and they do, make them see that it’s not the solution you’re hoping for. If you want to break up and they don’t, make them understand why it’s better that way.

8. Get closure

Once you tell your partner you’re unhappy in the relationship, don’t let the fight drag on for days or months. Make sure that you said everything that you needed to say. Allow them to tell you how they feel as well.

If they need more time, give it to them. Just don’t let the issue die down without being resolved. Sweeping the problem under the rug gives it the potential to haunt you again in the future. [Read: How to fix a relationship that’s falling apart and rebuild it again]

9. Check on your partner

After talking about it, always check to see how your partner is doing. See if they are taking it well or if they’re starting to formulate new solutions. You expressed your unhappiness with the relationship, but remember that their happiness is at stake too.

10. Review your relationship

If you chose to find a way to be happy again with your partner, observe the changes in your relationship. See if your discussion has helped in improving your feelings and connection. 

If nothing changes, you may need to discuss it again. If that fails, you may need to consider fixing the problem while you’re apart.

The mere fact that you managed to talk about your problem with your partner can be a very big help. You can breathe easier knowing that you told the truth about how you feel.

Some truths can hurt the people you love, but being honest about how you see the relationship is something that needs to be dealt with. [Read: How to communicate in a relationship – 16 steps to a much better love]

11. Use “I” language

When we are unhappy in a relationship, we tend to blame our partner more than ourselves. So, when you want to tell your partner that you are unhappy, try to avoid the tendency to criticize them and their behavior. This will only make them defensive.

Instead, you should use “I” language. For example, instead of saying, “I hate that you aren’t ever on time for anything!” you should say, “I am the kind of person who values timeliness. I get frustrated when I am ready to leave and you aren’t. This is an ongoing feeling I have.”

When you use “I” language, you are not saying, “You’re a jerk who is always late and I can’t stand it anymore!” Do you see the difference? It’s the same message, but it’s said in a way that your partner will respond to it positively. [Read: 23 reasons why good relationships end even if there are no red flags]

12. Be specific

When you tell your partner that you are unhappy in the relationship, they will most likely ask you why. And sometimes, people can’t come up with specifics. Instead, they just feel an overall sense of dissatisfaction with the relationship.

However, if you can’t be specific about what you are unhappy about, then your partner can’t change. Tell them the behaviors that are making you unhappy.

It doesn’t even have to be your partner’s fault, but the more details you can give them, the better. [Read: 18 foundations of a relationship that separate the good from the bad]

13. Own up to your mistakes

Just because you are unhappy, that doesn’t mean that it is all your partner’s fault. You are in the relationship too, so your partner might be just as unhappy as you are. And you might have made some mistakes.

So, when you are talking, you should ask what you can do better if they don’t offer it up to you first. Take responsibility for your own actions. Who knows? Maybe if you start doing something different then they will be happier. And if they’re happier, then maybe you’ll be happier too. [Read: How to stop making the same mistakes in a relationship and learn]

14. Listen

We know that you want to get out all of your feelings, but you also need to think about your partner’s emotions too. So, don’t do all the talking. You want the conversation to be two-sided, not one way.

It might not be easy to hear your partner’s point of view, because they will probably tell you things that you did “wrong.” So, you need to be prepared to hear their side of the story and willing to change if you need to. [Read: How to be a better listener in a relationship and grow closer]

15. Have empathy

Believe it or not, your perspective on the relationship isn’t the only one. Your partner has their own experience too.

In your mind, they might be to blame for the reason you are unhappy in the relationship. But they might see it very differently.

So, you should listen to them with some empathy. Try to see their point of view, not just your own. Maybe you can learn something about your behavior that you can change, and then it might make the whole relationship better.

16. Stay calm

When someone is unhappy in a relationship, they tend to get overly emotional. So, it’s best to approach your partner when you are calm and rational. You don’t want to explode and have the talk turn out badly. [Read: How to get rid of nervousness and calm your mind wherever you are]

In order to stay calm, you might even want to write out some notes ahead of time about what you are going to say. That way, you won’t be tempted to let your emotions overwhelm you and get off on a tangent. They will receive your message much better when you are calm.

17. Mutually decide what you want

Just because you are unhappy doesn’t necessarily mean that your partner is too. In fact, this might come as a complete surprise to them. So, be careful with their feelings if they feel blindsided when you tell your partner you’re unhappy.

On the other hand, maybe they feel the same way too. In that case, then it’s at least good that you’re both on the same page. Either way, you should both talk about where you want to go from here and what steps to take. [Read: How to know if you should break up – 22 signs that can guide you]

18. Suggest therapy

If both of you want to work on the relationship, maybe you should try going to couple’s therapy. Now, a lot of people are resistant to this idea because they think therapy is showing “weakness.” But it’s actually not. It’s a strength.

Plus, many people lack the skills to rebuild their relationships alone. Many times it takes a trained professional to help you put together the pieces of an unhappy relationship. 

[Read: Relationship feels like friendship? 27 ways to naughty and dirty it up]

Just because you’re unhappy, doesn’t mean you should give up on the relationship. By knowing how to tell your partner you’re unhappy, you can combine your efforts into making things right again. This is what a healthy relationship is all about.

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Preeti Tewari Serai
Preeti Serai
Preeti, the founder of LovePanky, is an eternal optimist and believer in the beauty of love and life. With an exhaustive experience in love, relationships, and ...