Are you the kind of person who stays in a relationship longer than you should?
The real question is why? You know you deserve better. Are you fighting for love or are you just lonely?
Feelings and emotions are confusing, so it’s hard to tell. But maybe I can help.
Today I’m sharing 10 signs that you’re staying in that unhappy relationship because you’re lonely.
Be honest: how many of these signals do you recognize in yourself?
1) You wish you had more friends
Do you ever wonder where all your friends have gone?
A few years ago you had a great group of friends that you spent every weekend with. It was like being part of an unbreakable gang. It felt like you were going to be friends forever. But you’ve grown apart.
And that makes sense: it’s normal to lose friends as we get older. One study suggests that friendships begin to fall away quickly after the age of 25, as noted by The guard.
But you still wish you had more friends.
And even though you’d like to meet new people and have more opportunities to hang out on the weekends, the thought of making new friends at this age feels pretty daunting. It’s easier to stay put and spend time with your partner.
Does this sound like you? If so, this could be a sign that you are lonely and therefore staying in an unhappy relationship.
Making friends is hard, but so is an unhappy relationship, so why not step out of your comfort zone and try meeting new people?
2) You pretend to be happy
Do you ever feel unhappy in your relationship?
Turns out: you’re not alone, only 17% of couples are happy in their partnership, according to Dana Adam Shapiro in his book “You can be right, or you can be married”,.
And yet you pretend to be happy, right?
When someone asks how things are going, you exaggerate the truth to make it sound like you’re the perfect couple.
Deep down you know it’s not true, but it seems easier than admitting that things aren’t great. And it could be worse: as a single person you could spend every weekend alone, right?
All couples have days off, but if you find yourself constantly pretending to be happy, it suggests that you may think it’s easier to pretend than to be alone.
The point is, being single doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll be lonely and your happiness is worth prioritizing. Think about it.
3) You prefer company over fun
Do you remember when you and your partner first got together?
You had so much fun. Even normal everyday things like making food were fun when they were there.
But it doesn’t feel that way anymore. You’re not really having fun together right now, but it’s better than the alternative, right?
You would rather have his company than live alone. Choosing company over enjoyment is a telltale sign of loneliness.
You deserve to enjoy even the little things in your life. Don’t let loneliness stop you from finding that fun factor again.
4) You are jealous of happy couples
In the last few months of a previous relationship, I had always been very jealous of other couples who seemed happy.
I saw random couples holding hands in the park or laughing and joking together over coffee, and I couldn’t help but feel a pang of jealousy. I wish my relationship was like that.
It wasn’t, but I stayed anyway. I felt quite alone and isolated at the time, with a partner. I couldn’t imagine what it would feel like if I was single too.
Does this strike a chord with you?
Jealousy is a normal human emotion, but it can be quite isolating when you feel it about happy couples because it reminds you of what you want and don’t have.
The last thing you want is to feel even more isolated and afraid that this will happen if you leave the relationship.
It doesn’t have to be this way! You can find the happiness you see in other couples if you take action.
5) You have left your boundaries
Can you remember a time when you knew exactly what you would and would not take from someone and always stood behind it?
Tea importance of boundaries in relationships is well documented. They allow you to do that
- Develop trust and healthy relationships
- Be assertive without being aggressive
- Practice and prioritize self-esteem
But lately you’ve lost sight of your own boundaries. You often accept behavior from your partner that you know you don’t deserve.
You know you can’t let these things continue. If they do, it may be best for you to leave the relationship.
But it feels easier to tolerate this behavior than dealing with the aftermath of a breakup.
You’re not sure you can handle being alone like this, so you stay.
6) You feel like you’re settling
Do you ever feel like you are settling in your relationship?
It sounds pretty harsh to put it so bluntly, but if you feel and continue to feel this way, that’s a huge red flag.
Everyone deserves to feel like the ‘cat that has the cream’ together with their partner. But that’s not you. You have a nagging feeling that you deserve better. But you doubt you could do better and can’t bear the thought of being alone, so you stay.
This is a clear sign that you are lonely and it is the reason you stay in unhappy relationships.
The point is, this isn’t fair to you or your partner. Be brave enough to know that you can overcome this lonely feeling and find someone who is absolutely amazing in your eyes.
7) You are not yourself
Do you show up as your true self in your relationship or do you try to be the person you think your partner wants you to be?
Presenting a changed version of yourself is a sign that you will do whatever it takes to keep this relationship alive, rather than face the prospect of feeling even lonelier without it.
But here’s the kicker: pretending to be someone else in an attempt to maintain the relationship can make the relationship more likely to fail.
People who stay true to who they are “have a stronger sense of themselves, so they are capable of more intimacy love and passion in their relationship,” as noted by Psychology today.
So if you’re hiding your true self and changing your opinions to fit the mold of what you think your partner wants, it’s time to stop immediately.
Embrace who you are and you might find that you don’t feel so lonely and that they love you even more. Or you will realize that it is time to leave and find someone who loves the real you.
8) You don’t argue with your partner
Not arguing with your partner is a good thing, right?
When two people with different views and opinions come together, disagreements will arise from time to time. Conflict in relationships is healthy and normal.
On the other hand, a relationship without conflict is not natural and suggests that you are both checked out and don’t care enough to fight anymore. Or one of you will bite your tongue to keep the peace.
Which one is it for you?
Both scenarios indicate an unhappy relationship that you need to get out of. But the fact that you stay despite these problems is a clear indication that you stay because you are lonely.
You don’t want to feel even lonelier than you already do, so you would rather endure an unhappy relationship without honest communication than leave.
9) You long for the past
Remember a few years ago, when life was so carefree? You would spend most of your time laughing and creating memories with your friends. Sometimes you wish you could just go back to that time.
Do you often find yourself reminiscing like this?
You think back to a time when you didn’t feel lonely, were full of the joys of life and didn’t realize how good you had it. It is normal to long for the past from time to time.
But if you always wish you could go back to a time with more fun, more friends, more laughter, and more joy, that’s a sure sign that you’re lonely and stuck in an unhappy relationship.
The good news is that this kind of nostalgia can actually help you escape the stress trap of loneliness by strengthening the sense of connection and providing a sense of meaning.
The next step is to focus on yourself and create a fun future.
10) You and your partner lead parallel lives
A few years ago my friend Emma described her relationship with her fiancé as “two ships passing in the night”. They lived parallel lives under the same roof.
They rarely saw each other due to opposing work schedules. And where they were both at home, their time “together” was often spent on individual activities like scrolling through phones or watching TV. It was more about living together in the same space than enjoying shared experiences.
It wasn’t until they broke up three years later that she admitted that she only stayed in that unhappy relationship because she thought she would feel lonelier if she didn’t have him in her life.
And that makes sense: living a parallel life can be incredibly isolating, because even though you’re not physically alone, you’re essentially living alone. It’s confusing, you think you shouldn’t feel lonely, but you do.
Emma eventually realized that the loneliness was (partly) due to the relationship. When she finally left, she immediately started to feel less lonely.
Does this appeal to you?
If you’re living separate lives, it’s time to consider staying put, in an effort to stave off even more loneliness.
In reality, leaving can be the path to feeling better.
it comes down to
If you recognize these 10 signals in yourself, you are probably staying in an unhappy relationship because you are lonely.
And it may seem like leaving the relationship will increase that lonely feeling, so stay.
The truth is: being alone (also called single) and being lonely are not the same. And leaving an unhappy relationship can make you feel less lonely, not more.
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