Article - source: Mamamia

10 Signs You and Your Partner are ‘Fake Happy’ in Your Relationship

25 November 2021

Your relationship. Are you… happy in it? Don’t give us that look, we’re only asking!

Cause y’see, when you’ve been with someone for a while, it’s normal that the mere thought of breaking it off makes you feel sick/scared/confused.

And while that’s a really beautiful thing in itself, it can also be dangerous.

Because becoming so attached to someone can 100 per cent cloud your judgement, making it tricky to notice parts of your relationship that are honestly really quite s**t.

Maybe it’s the fact your partner still can’t get along with your friends, but you feel too nervous about confronting the issue (again). Or perhaps it’s their lack of drive that’s making you feel uneasy – but you don’t quite know how to bring it up.

So then it’s just… left by the wayside.

The reality is that many couples stick together even though they’re unhappy. They’ve got kids. It’s convenient. You don’t want anyone to get hurt. There’s all kinds of reasons people in long-term relationships hang in there.

The problem is, though, staying in an unhappy relationship can take its toll on your physical and mental health. It also prevents you and your partner from moving forward into a happier life.

With that in mind, we asked couples counsellor Lissy Abrahams to share the top signs couples are faking happiness in their relationship. Here’s what she had to say.

1. Use of denial

If someone really loves you, they’ll always be there for you – through thick and thin. However, Abrahams reminds us that it’s important your partner doesn’t rely on you to fill a gap missing in themselves.

“A good partner will never impose their mental health struggles onto you, as they recognise that by looking after themselves and receiving professional help, they are also looking after you and the relationship,” said Abrahams. 

“A good partner knows it’s not your responsibility to ‘fix’ them.”

2. Use of projection

No matter how good your relationship is, there’s always going to be arguments – but what matters is how you deal with them. Your partner should always put the needs of the relationship first, and want to talk through issues rather than leaving things to fester in the dark.

“A good partner never says ‘no’ to you when you want to go to couples therapy. I have seen the damage that this causes when partners say no and block their potential to develop. This causes more conflict between partners and prevents happiness being created in their relationship,” said Abrahams.

3. Rationalising or making excuses

If you’re in a healthy relationship, you should have room for spending time with family and friends. A partner who loves and respects you won’t monopolise your time or keep you to themselves. You should never feel restricted for seeing people outside of your relationship.

“Your partner should understand that you are a separate individual with your own mind and desires and these need to be respected. Some examples: If you want to see friends, they encourage you to go and don’t try to make you cancel to stay home with them.

“They don’t try to make you eat food you don’t want in your body. They don’t try to guilt or manipulate you to get their way, or force their life view on to you.”   

4. Use of intellectualisation

Your partner should also never take jabs at your appearance, lower your self-confidence or make you feel bad about yourself. It’s a d**k move and a sign of a bad relationship.

“A good partner will never suggest you need anti-wrinkle injections, fillers, or plastic surgery,” said Abrahams. “They know that your body is great the way it is, and it is yours. They respect that it’s not their body to meddle with for their own sake or pleasure.”

5. Use of sublimation

It may sound simple, but this is one that’s often overlooked.

“A good partner will never use you to make other people jealous or score points with others. If they ask you to wear particularly revealing clothing or ask you to perform in a particular way to bolster their own standing in the eyes of others, then this is a misuse of you. It’s narcissistic.”

6. Compartmentalisation

Your partner should understand how important it is to listen to how you’re feeling. You should never feel that they avoid important conversations – rather, seek them out and approach them with respect.

“They also understand that listening and wanting to know how you feel is important for creating psychological safety in a relationship,” she adds.

7. Reaction formation

One of the best signs of a person’s confidence is their ability to help support the ambitions of others. 

Abrahams said a good partner will never discourage your psychological, educational, or physical development, nor stand in the way of you accessing it. 

“They will see that your wellbeing and development is a good thing for you and will offer support to help you facilitate your experience, such as offering financial support or taking the children that day.”

8. Dissociation

Whenever you feel like you need to prove your worth in a relationship, this isn’t a good sign. “A good partner will never forget that you are an asset in their lives and worthy of protecting you and the relationship,” reminds Abrahams.

“They understand that being with you is a privilege and not a right – even if you have tricky bits,” she adds.

“This means they don’t forget you and the relationship and step over your agreed upon couple boundaries when they are out for a night drinking with their mates.”

9. Creating distance with your partner

Has the whole flirting and touching thing become a thing of the past?

When we’re putting on our ‘fake happy’ couple act, Abrahams said you may create distance with your partner at home by:

  1. Creating physical ailments so they don’t come too close or make a bid for physical intimacy.
    “It’s the old joke of “Not tonight, I’ve got a headache” – but we can’t have a headache every night, so we then focus on our neck, back, or foot. We struggle to be close to someone we believe is making us unhappy.”
  2. Investing heavily in the children or family unit to avoid being alone with our partner.
    “This could be seen by not going away alone together as we “don’t want to leave the children”.”
  3. Scrapping dates.
    “Avoiding date nights alone and making sure other friends or family are there.”
  4. Initiating fights to create distance.
    “Partners reduce the chance of intimacy by making the atmosphere more disconnecting.”
  5. Frequently expressing resentment, blame or being critical of our partner.
    “We all know these are particularly unattractive behaviours, but they work if we want to keep our partner from wanting intimacy or closeness with us. They also show our partner some of our unhappiness but don’t address the real cause or allow development.”

10. Seeking validation elsewhere

According to Abrahams, people who are ‘fake happy’ may seek validation from others that they are okay, as they don’t feel okay in themselves.

“This could be with friends or even strangers, to answer some of our fears of whether we are attractive, intelligent, or interesting enough anymore to others as we may not feel this in ourselves.”

“The ultimate fantasy of validation is having an emotional or sexual affair.”

If you’re looking for more relationship advice, Abrahams has a free e-book available here.

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