How To Tell Your Partner You’re Not Happy Anymore But Don’t Want To Break Up

The best relationships go through ebbs and flows. Sometimes things are really good and you can’t imagine your life without them. Other times, you wonder if you’re really happy or could be happier. These are normal feelings and can be worked through, but having that initial conversation with your boyfriend or girlfriend might seem a little tricky. Here’s how to tell them that you’re going through an unhappy spell, but don’t necessarily want to end things.

  1. Start suggesting ideas outside of your typical comfort zone. I’m not talking about risque bedroom activities that you’re not into. You should never go outside of your comfort level when it comes to sex. However, maybe you can try to ramp up dates. If your norm is sitting around watching TV, why not try to book a vacation together or take a fun class together? These events can strengthen your relationship in ways you didn’t even realize.
  2. Suggest therapy. There’s nothing wrong with therapy and if your partner tells you otherwise, that’s a red flag. The one negative about therapy is that people assume you go when things are already broken, but that’s not necessarily the truth. You can seek counseling for your relationship if you’re having issues with communication or just want to strengthen your bonds. Therapy helps the two of you understand each other better. Perhaps in therapy, you can find the courage to tell them how you feel in a safe place.
  3. Don’t make the problem all about them. They’ll hear that, immediately think you’re trying to start a fight, and get defensive. Instead, use the word “we.” Even if you know that a lot of your problems may stem from them, “we” is a good way to show him you’re both in this together and should both put in the effort to fix the issue. Starting with, “we seem to be going through a tough patch, how can we solve it?” is a great way to get some input.
  4. You can even frame it on yourself. To be quite honest, maybe this is a “you” problem. That’s not meant to be a diss — maybe you’ve changed and grown and no longer feel happy doing the same things or having the same conversations with your boyfriend or girlfriend. If you tell them that you’re going through a fog, they can help out and maybe even give you a little bit of space to feel better.
  5. Try being blunt. If you’re a “just rip the Band-Aid off” kind of person, you might just want to openly state your unhappiness. You can do it in a way that’s not necessarily pointed, but even just saying something like “I’m just not happy right now” will get the conversation flowing. Remember, a good partner won’t disregard these feelings. They may not know how to respond immediately, but it’ll be important for them to try and solve.
  6. Sit down and figure out what’s really making you unhappy. If it’s a general feeling, it shouldn’t be ignored. However, if you know why things seemed to take a turn, it makes sense to address them openly. Prep yourself for saying something like, “our sex life has really taken a turn these past few months and I’d like to solve it.” It may not be the sexiest response, but it’s honest. And if you’ve been in this relationship for some time, your partner shouldn’t feel awkward about it. Instead, he should be thinking up ways to make it better. Likewise, if you’re upset since you feel like you’re taking on a lot of the emotional burden, try figuring out tasks they can do to lessen the load a little bit. You should never be nervous to ask if this is someone you may potentially spend the rest of your life with.
  7. Try to brainstorm good relationship-building ideas over a homemade meal. There’s something about homemade meals that are more intimate. When you cook together, you bond. Say something like, “I wish we can do more stuff like this together,” and see how they respond. If you approach the conversation lightly while the two of you are having a good time together, it’s more likely to be a positive and successful conversation. Just remember, keep things friendly. It’s not a good time to argue.
  8. Analyze the situation and make sure you still want to be with them. This might not be what you want to hear, but it’s important. You might not want to break up since you’re used to them, or since you have a history together. But if you’ve been unhappy for months, maybe it’s actually time to call it quits. Is your partner willing to change? Are they supportive? Are the two of you still growing in the same direction together? It’s okay to leave a romantic relationship when things are no longer aligning. The nicest guy could just not be what you need in a boyfriend right now. Is this relationship really worth saving, or are you holding onto something that’s just not worth it?
Karen Belz is a New Jersey native who is currently living in Maryland. She has a Bachelor’s Degree in Speech Communication with a focus in Broadcasting and Print Media Studies from Millersville University of Pennsylvania. Since graduating, she has written for sites like LittleThings, HelloGiggles, and Scary Mommy and is currently an e-commerce editor at Bustle.

When she's not writing, she enjoys making her phone run out of memory after taking too many photos of her dog. You can find her on Twitter @karenebelz or on Instagram @karenbelz.