Having to deal with an unhappy partner may not be easy, but it’s not impossible. Here are some tips to bring happiness into your lives.
We all have moments when lose our cool. But imagine living with a partner who is perpetually in a bad mood or is unhappy about everything in life. Being surrounded by such negative energy doesn’t always have positive effects on your life and personal relationships. If you are having to deal with an unhappy partner, make sure you are protecting yourself and your peace of mind.
If your partner is unhappy, your happiness can get affected too. An October 2023 study published in Sage Journals showed that in a relationship, the person who is more positive gets “dragged down” by an unhappier partner.
There are times when one person’s emotions can influence and impact the emotions of those around them, particularly in close relationships. It’s called emotional contagion or emotional spillover, says psychiatrist Dr Parth Nagda.
It can impact relationships in the following ways:
• Negative emotions may lead to more frequent arguments, misunderstandings, and overall less positive communication.
• Emotions can be contagious, and an unhappy partner may unintentionally transfer their negative mood to the happier partner.
• Constant exposure to a partner’s negative emotions can take a toll on the mental health of the happier partner and over time contribute to feelings of burnout, anxiety or even depression.
• The happier partner may find it challenging to maintain a sense of fulfillment and contentment in the relationship .
What are the signs of an unhappy partner?
Early recognition of signs of an unhappy partner is crucial for maintaining a healthy relationship and addressing issues before they escalate, says the expert. Here are some signs:
• Increased arguments, decreased frequency of positive communication such as compliments or expressions of affection
• Reduced interest in spending time together
• Limited eye contact
• Avoidance of physical touch or intimacy
• Alterations in sleep patterns, either sleeping and eating patterns
• Less interest in hobbies or activities they once loved
• Changes in energy levels, such as fatigue or restlessness
• Reduced interest in physical intimacy or sex. Avoidance of affectionate gestures
• A decline in joint goal-setting or long-term planning
• Seeking solitude and having decreased interest in socialising or connecting with others.
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How to deal with an unhappy partner?
Breaking things off is very easy, but if you still love your partner who is unhappy, there can be healthy ways to deal with them. Here are some tips:
1. Engage in open communication
Encourage your partner to express their feelings openly and honestly, says Dr Nagda. Create a safe space for them to share their concerns without fear of judgment. Listen actively when they pour their heart out and avoid interrupting.
2. Empathy and understanding
Try to understand your partner’s perspective and emotions. Empathise with their feelings and acknowledge that their experiences are valid.
3. Avoid blame and judgment
Don’t blame or criticise your partner all the time. Focus on understanding the root causes of their unhappiness.
4. Validate their feelings
Validate your partner’s emotions by acknowledging that it’s okay for them to feel the way they do. Avoid dismissing or trivialising their concerns.
5. Encourage professional help
Suggest seeking professional support from a psychiatrist or a psychologist. Your partner can go solo or you can have couple’s sessions.
6. Work on communication skills
Improve communication within your relationship by enhancing your active listening skills. Also, practice expressing yourself clearly and respectfully, says the expert.
7. Quality time together
You should spend quality time with your partner. Engage in activities that you both enjoy. It can be cooking together or playing a sport or just watching movies.
8. Encourage self-care
Support your partner in taking care of their physical and mental well-being. Encourage healthy lifestyle choices such as regular exercise, adequate sleep and activities that bring them joy.
9. Be patient
Addressing unhappiness in a relationship takes time. Be patient with your partner and with the process of working through challenges in life, says the expert.
10. Set realistic expectations
Recognise that no relationship is perfect, and it’s normal for both the partners to experience ups and downs. Don’t expect everything to be perfect all the time.
11. Foster positivity
Introduce positivity into your relationship by expressing gratitude, sharing positive experiences and creating a supportive environment. Small gestures of kindness and appreciation can contribute to a more positive and uplifting atmosphere.
Since each relationship is unique, the effectiveness of these strategies may vary. It’s important to tailor your approach to the specific dynamics of your relationship and, if necessary, seek professional guidance to facilitate the process of addressing unhappiness.
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