5 Body Language Signs That Mean Your Partner Wants to Break Up, According to Therapists
What they do with their hands and feet says more than you think.
Nothing is worse than feeling like the vibe is off in your relationship. Maybe, whether they realize it or not, your partner has appeared more disinterested, low-energy, or distracted than usual. This could be due to a host of things, from work stress to simply feeling like they're in a rut. But sometimes, it occurs because they're considering a breakup. Want to parse that out? Ahead, therapists tell us the key body language signs that mean your partner wants to break up with you. Catch them early to ensure the two of you can work things out.
They're constantly tapping their foot.
You likely tap your foot when you're waiting for the bus or opening an important email about an amazing job offer. In many cases, it signals anxiety or frustration—and those aren't things you want in your relationship.
"Metronomic gestures that tap or beat [at] a rapid pace to speed things up can be used as a nonverbal message of someone trying to break up with you," says Sameera Sullivan, relationship expert and matchmaker. "Such metronomic rituals include a leg judder, tapping feet, or drumming fingers."
Ending a relationship is stressful, and these body language cues can signal that your partner is feeling that tension.
They stop smiling.
Dates are supposed to be happy, and if your partner doesn't seem that way, they might be considering a breakup.
"Anybody who is on a date with someone they love wouldn't be asked to smile; their faces would always be beaming with smiles," says Joseph Puglisi, a relationship expert and the CEO of Dating Iconic. "But if it is the case that they want to break up with you, they wouldn't give a smile, rather they would keep a straight face while trying to avoid eye contact."
In other words, if something feels off or distant about their behavior, it probably is.
They're distant in bed.
A partner who wants to break up might behave differently in the bedroom than they usually do. For example, if your significant other always gives you a passionate kiss before falling asleep and then suddenly stops, they could be feeling a disconnect. Or if they usually face you and randomly start turning away, then something might be amiss.
"Is there the normal physical touch that has always been there, or is there a sensation that the person is now tense in bed?" asks Massimo Stocchi Fontana, a sexologist and sex coach. "All these signals point to avoidance of intimacy and disconnecting."
Your partner might be pulling away slowly before they bring up "the talk."
They sit far away from you on the couch.
Sometimes, physical distance can signify emotional distance. "Distance between the couple on the couch [can predict a breakup]," says Stocchi Fontana. "Proximity is usually a tell to where they are connected with one another."
Stocchi Fontana also notes that as those in couples therapy progress in a positive direction, they will usually bridge the gap between them and sit closer together on the couch during sessions.
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Their energy is off.
In many cases, you can simply trust that your gut will pick up on negative body language.
"Body language aligns itself with energy, and the energetic feel of our partner is always the first sign that we can experience that things are changing," says Stocchi Fontana. "The first sign for me is disinterest… the gaze may be off or distracted, and our partner's natural care that they have shown prior starts to diminish."
You'll notice that they look off into the distance on dates, don't seem fully present while doing chores or cooking together, and generally appear disinterested. Sometimes, your partner may not even realize they're doing it.
"If the behavior is conscious or unconscious, it is our way as humans to detach from the partner we are with," says Stocchi Fontana.
As soon as you notice something is amiss, address it with your partner. An honest discussion or visit to a couple's therapist might be just what you need to get back on track.