Open Relationship and Inclusive Dating Blog

Signs of Discontent: Recognizing Unhappiness in Open Relationships

unhappy couple in bed.

Couples often use open relationships as a way to spark new life into a stale marriage or dating relationship. And this is a move that often breaths a newfound energy into the relationship. A lot of this has to do with the vast increases in communication and exploration.

But its important to remember that an open relationship is, in fact, a relationship. And all relationships have peaks and valleys. Just because your new open relationship got off to a hot, exciting start doesn’t mean you won’t need to continue to do the work it takes to make a relationship great.

In this blog, we’ll explore some common signs that your open relationship partner may not be as happy as you are. And we’ll dive into some ways to get back on track.

A Decrease in Communication

Communication is the core of the open relationship. Traditional relationships, including marriage, often fail due to a lack of proper communication. In order to be in an open relationship, communication is the utmost prerequisite. This is why open relationships often come out of the gates hot – it fixes the previous lack of communication.

But alas, even in open relationships, communication efforts may wane over time. And once this happens, couples begin to talk less about their feelings, plans or other relationships, which suggest they are experiencing a disconnect.

When this happens, its important to right the ship and establish communication as the main priority again. Schedule time to talk through things, such as what they’re up to, how they’re feeling about your partners or their partners, and general items.

An Emotional Withdrawal

We might say that emotions are the currency of most relationship types. When you lost emotions, you lose the relationships funding. And this means more distances and less emotional availability.

All said, you’ll both feel less passion for one another.

If one parter is emotionally withdrawn, it can mean that they are struggling with that part of the relationship. It’s a major indicator that you could have a problem and need to attend to the needs of your partner. And this will begin with respectful, compassionate communications that help uncover and eventually speak to the issues.

Expressing Jealousy or Resentment

Many people in traditional relationships have this idea that people in open relationships don’t experience jealousy.

This is far from the truth.

Jealousy is a natural part of all relationships, open relationships included. But excessive jealously or a sudden increase could indicate an underlying issue with your open relationship arrangement.

The first place to explore is your agreed upon boundaries and whether or not your partner feels your existing within them, or if your partner’s had a change in heart over what the boundaries should be. Having a deep conversation about mutual respect and boundaries can help get to the core of the issue. It could be simple, for example, maybe they feel you admire one of your other partners. Or maybe they feel you’re breaking rules. It’s important to open discussion and begin navigating any confusion or challenges.

Lack of Enthusiasm About the Relationship

If your partner shows very little excitement about the relationship or future plans, there may be an issue.

Reduced interest and increased conflict signal an open relationship ecosystem reflective of dissatisfaction.

This could be related to the prior section that spoke to issues of jealousy and resentment. The solution, once again, is open, authentic communication.

Increased Anxiety or Stress

Any marked increase in stress or anxiety, especially relating to discussions about the relationship, could point to discomfort or unhappiness. It’s important to continue trying to open the lines of communication. There are times when a partner may be stressed about a non-relationship issue, but it’s having sweeping effects across the relationship. Some people have a difficult time talking through work or family stress.

Repeated Arguments

Repeated conflicts, particularly about the open relationship rules, indicate unresolved issues that are impacting their happiness.

This is a major sign that there’s a communication breakdown somewhere in the relationship spectrum. Its important to talk through these things.


In every one of our above signs, communication is the ultimate solution. An open relationship’s health is predicated by healthy, impactful communication between partners. Without it, fractures may occur.

Work on your communication and make sure you’re better understanding your partners needs and that they understand your needs.