Home  >  Love Couch  >  Broken Hearts

22 Signs to See a Troubled Relationship & the Best Ways to Fix It ASAP

You aren’t completely happy with your partner, but you’re wondering if you’re actually in a troubled relationship. Here are all the signs you are in one.

troubled relationship

People have a natural inclination to partner up, whether it’s for procreation, sexual recreation or you’re just looking for that special lifelong someone. But sometimes people find themselves in a troubled relationship.

If you find yourself single for a long period of time, it starts to feel like you’d do anything to have a relationship. Suddenly anyone seems like they can offer dating potential, but only because you’re lonely.

So what happens when you meet your match, and instead of sharing nights out and post-coital bliss, your happily-ever-after becomes happily-never-after?

Why do people feel trapped and troubled in their own relationships? Well, there are many reasons to feel troubled in a relationship. Some are innocent and a part of human nature, while some are harmful to one’s wellbeing. 

[Read: Do you really want a partner or are you just feeling more lonely?]

What is a troubled relationship?

While it might sound like it should be obvious, sometimes people don’t know they’re in a troubled relationship. But, a troubled relationship is one in which it might be on the verge of ending. And if it’s not, it probably should end.

Although it can be fixed if both people try, it can take a lot of effort to do so. It’s not surprising that people would try to hang on, even if they are unhappy. But we are here to help you out.

So, let’s take a look at some of the common signs of a troubled relationship so you can know if you’re in one or not.

The subtle but painful signs of a troubled relationship

If you’re not quite sure if you’re just anxious, feeling troubled, or genuinely unhappy with your partner, here are all the signs that may enlighten you to recognize a troubled relationship.

1. You’re unhappy

This is the easiest way to tell if you’re trapped in a troubled relationship. While most people whine and pout about not having that special somebody, you’re wishing you could hit a fast-forward button whenever your partner is around. 

If you find yourself slipping into a relationship-based depression or just plain cringe at the thought of coming home to your partner, then it might be time to open your eyes to the truth of your relationship.

Don’t feel bad. People lose interest, get bored, and move on from their romantic trysts. While it isn’t exactly a walk in the park, sometimes you just have to bite the bullet and end what isn’t working. 

Hey, relationships are hard and breakups are even harder. If you feel you’ve done everything you could do to try and save your relationship or simply lost your gusto to even bother, get out of your relationship while you’re still sane. [Read: 21 secret signs of a bad relationship isn’t as good as you thought]

2. You’ve turned into their caretaker

If instead of enjoying yourself in your relationship, you suddenly find yourself trying to “save” your partner or take care of them.

Spending too much time trying to fix your partner and help them, be it their personality or their personal problems, may take a draining effect on you and turn any happy relationship into a troubled one. What’s more, you could end up feeling like you can’t leave your partner until you’ve resolved the damage in their life.

This is an understandable quandary and a moral one too. Suppose your girlfriend or boyfriend suffers from clinical depression and after years together, you decide you are ready to move on. 

You may feel scared to break up, wondering if they will landslide into depression and anxiety and if you’re better off biting the love bullet and sticking it out, if only for their sanity. 

While this may seem noble, all you’re really doing is trapping yourself in an unhappy relationship, and your partner in a codependent relationship. [Read: How to spot codependent behavior early on and regain your self-indentity]

3. You’ve already tried to leave

So you’ve already tried to excuse yourself from the shambles you used to call a relationship, but then your partner started giving you those doe-eyes, welling up with tears, then the lip starts going and you felt your resolve crumble. 

This is called staying in a troubled relationship out of pity. You truly aren’t doing yourself, or your partner, any favors by staying because you feel too bad to leave.

Surely, this will only lead to your eyes starting to wander, or resentment building between the two of you. Don’t let fear or pity stop you from starting over with someone who can make you happier.

4. You’re not yourself

One way to tell if you’re stuck or unhappy in your troubled relationship is to do a personal examination of yourself. How much have you changed in the time that you’ve been with your current partner?

Sure, people change depending on who they are with, but if you’ve suddenly turned into a “yes-man” or a woman who can no longer voice her own opinion, then odds are you haven’t found the person for you.

The person who is right for you will enjoy your personality and love you for you, not try to stifle it. [Read: The unhappy relationship – 25 lies you use to convince yourself you’re happy]

5. Your friends and family have picked up on a change

Your friends and family, while they can be wrong, usually have a nose for this type of thing.

If your closest friends, your parents, or your siblings have started to notice a change in your behavior or general mood or unhealthy behavior exhibited by your partner, it may do you good to listen. After all, they can see the situation from an outside perspective.

In fact, they may even notice it before you do. If trusted friends and family begin to question your relationship or your partner, take a step back and ponder over why that is. They may be seeing a glaring problem that you can’t see.

6. You are straying romantically or looking for a way out online

If you find yourself actively seeking another romantic partner’s company, or have begun having an affair because you’re unhappy, then one thing is clear: you need to end this. 

Straying emotionally or physically is only going to lead to more hurt and resentment, in the end, not to mention it’s a definite sign that you’re emotionally and physically checked out of your troubled relationship. [Read: What is emotional cheating and 15 signs to recognize an affair ASAP]

7. Your partner is controlling

If you find you are often lying to yourself about your emotional welfare to defend an emotionally or physically controlling partner, it’s time to seek serious help. 

It may be that your partner has emotionally or physically intimidated you into staying in your relationship, causing you to feel there isn’t anyone else out there who would have you.

Partners who are abusive usually control with financial manipulations, emotional put-downs, family or friend isolation, and physical violence. 

If your partner has exhibited any of these signs, and you simply feel too trapped to leave, then you need to start making an exit plan with your local police or domestic violence support group. These people are professionally trained to help you leave in a way that is safe. [Read: 16 signs of an abusive relationship that’s trapping you]

8. You feel smothered

If you feel like you can’t get away from your partner, then you feel smothered. Maybe your partner is jealous or possessive. And if they feel this way, they might want you to be with them 24/7.

But you want to have a life outside of the relationship. In fact, it’s healthy to have your own friends, hobbies, and interests.

But if you feel like your partner is not letting you have any time outside of just being with them all the time, then you are probably in a troubled relationship. No one should feel smothered. [Read: Are you smothered in a relationship? 37 signs and ways to stop feeling suffocated]

9. You aren’t getting your needs met

Everyone has needs, and yours might be very different from your partner’s. But that’s okay.

However, if your partner doesn’t care about your needs, then that is a different story. And if you feel like you’re the only one who tries to meet their needs, then that is unacceptable.

10. It’s a one-sided relationship

You know you have problems with your significant other, and you are continually trying to fix them. In fact, you might have had a lot of conversations with them telling them you’re unhappy and begging them to help you save the troubled relationship.

But your words fall on deaf ears. They might even agree to change and work on improvements, but their behavior does the opposite. If that’s happening to you, then you are in a one-sided relationship. [Read: Why won’t he change? Your man says he will but he never does]

11. There is selfishness

If you feel like you are the “giver” in the relationship and they are the “taker,” then your partner is incredibly selfish. Maybe you love to give and make your partner happy, but if you never get anything in return, then you will get resentful.

If you are the one who is always doing the cooking, cleaning, and laundry without even a simple “thank you” from them, then they are selfish. [Read: Selfish people – 20 ways to spot and stop them from hurting you]

12. You fight too much

It’s normal for couples to have disagreements – it’s just human nature. But if you are fighting more than you aren’t, then you know you have a troubled relationship.

Also, if you are yelling, screaming, and name-calling, that is toxic. In order for conflict to be healthy, you need to be logical, calm, and rational. But if you’re not doing that, then that is a huge problem.

13. There is neglect

Relationships are like plants. If you don’t water and nurture a plant, it will die. The same is true for relationships.

Both of you need to put in the effort to keep your relationships healthy and alive. You need to have regular date nights and stay connected. [Read: 24 Sad signs and consequences of emotional neglect in a relationship]

14. You don’t talk anymore

If there is a lot of neglect in the relations, then you probably don’t really talk anymore. You need to have meaningful conversations.

So, if you’re just talking about the weather or staring at your phones when you are together, then that is a sign of a troubled relationship.

15. One or both of you have cheated

Of course, cheating is unacceptable to most people. If someone cheats in the relationship, then their heart isn’t really with their partner. Because if it was, then they wouldn’t dream of cheating.

This is pretty common with troubled relationships, so if it’s happening with yours, then you know you are in one.

16. You spend a lot of time apart

It’s good to have a healthy, balanced relationship. You should have your own friend and your own interests that you pursue that don’t involve your partner.

But if you are spending more time apart than you are together, then one or both of you are trying to avoid the other one. [Read: Time apart in a relationship – 21 signs, reasons, and how to bring it up]

17. No sex anymore

Everyone has different sex drives, but if your relationship is completely devoid of sexual intimacy, then that is not good for either of you.

You might as well be roommates or friends. There are many reasons that a couple might not be having sex anymore *or very infrequently*, but none of them are good.

18. Any kind of abuse

Abuse of all kinds is completely unacceptable. If either of you is judging, demeaning, criticizing, or belittling the other, that’s mental and emotional abuse.

And if your partner tells you that you are worthless and no one else would want you, then it’s time to leave. Of course, physical abuse is also a deal-breaker. 

19. You have an on-off relationship

You might not think that an on-off relationship is a troubled one. But it is. Just because you break up and get back together over and over doesn’t mean you are happy. The reasons you keep going back are probably not healthy ones. Whether it’s not wanting to be alone or low self-esteem, an on-off relationship is not a good one. [Read: On and off relationship – What it is, signs, and why it’s bad for you]

20. You feel trapped

If you feel like a bird in a cage and you can’t get out, then that is no way to live. Sure, it’s different if you’re married with children. But even then, if you’re not happy, then the kids won’t be happy either. Feeling trapped in any relationship is one of the biggest signs of a troubled relationship.

How to fix a troubled relationship

Now that you know the signs of a troubled relationship, let’s look at what you can do about it. The key to addressing an unhappy relationship is a 1-2-step:

1. Assess your situation 

And look at it from both sides. Are you doing something that could be holding both of you back from a ridiculously happy life together? Are you really unhappy, or are you simply suffering from boredom-blues that happen in serious relationships?

2. Talk it out with your partner

Listen to their needs, explain yours, and give an honest go of making your relationship a success. And if it isn’t working, then you need to step out of your toxic environment and break it off officially and completely.

[Read: 16 signs it’s time to move on and end in the relationship]

There is no reason to stay in a troubled relationship that leaves you feeling hurt and disturbed. Even if there are children or investments involved, it’s still better to sever your ties than to sit around and take it all as your wellbeing deteriorates. Either get out, or try to fix your problems before it’s too late.

Liked what you just read? Follow us on Instagram Facebook Twitter Pinterest and we promise, we’ll be your lucky charm to a beautiful love life.

LovePanky icon
Team LovePanky
The editorial team of LovePanky comprises relationship experts and real-life experts that share their experiences and life lessons. If you want the best love ad...