One of the most common complaints among newly-single people is that they wish they’d gotten out of their old relationship sooner. Why? Well, the signs of a deteriorating relationship are usually abundant, but people generally don’t know what to look for. (Either that, or they don’t want to admit the fact that a breakup could be on the horizon.)
But like ripping off a Band-Aid, it’s often better to just get the breakup over with, rather than delaying the inevitable. Ahead, relationship therapists spill the top things they see that indicate an impending split. And if you see your relationship reflected here, be prepared, and bone up on the 30 Secrets Only Divorced People Know.
One of the biggest red flags that your partner is about to check out? “You notice that they are spending less time with you and dedicating more time to family and friends,” says Rhonda Milrad, LCSW, relationship therapist and founder of online relationship community Relationup. “They are putting more energy and time into other relationships in their inner circle.”
Of course, if you notice yourself doing this, it may also be a heads up that you’re feeling less connected to your partner than you did before. If you feel things heading south, you may want to grab some inspiration by reading up on the 50 Relationship Quotes That Are Sure to Reignite Your Love.
This might seem like a good thing, but it can indicate the one or both parties in a relationship no longer care enough to put their foot down. “Fighting is actually decreased and negotiating is not even needed anymore because the person or the couple is just done,” explains Rose Lawrence, LPCC, LCPC, NCC, a psychotherapist and owner of Mind Balance. “They have chosen to submit to the fact they want out of the relationship, so their indifference displays as being agreeable. Most couples need to negotiate or discuss issues, not necessarily argue or bicker, but at least have a discussion. Being agreeable is great, but when your partner or the couple is always agreeable and indifferent, the spark is clearly gone and the fight to stay in the relationship is gone.”
When you get a promotion, lose a big client, or win your fantasy football league, who’s the first person you tell? “If someone comes before your partner in sharing either good or bad news, they are no longer your primary confidant, your closest friend,” explains Rosalind Sedacca, CLC, a dating and relationship coach and author of 99 Things Women Wish They Knew Before Dating After 40, 50 & Yes, 60! Over time, that evolves into a stronger relationship with others, and a weakened link to your partner. And for more amazing relationship advice, check out Why Experts Say “Micro-Cheating” Will Destroy Your Relationship.
You’re bored not just in your relationship—but with everything. “Many individuals report boredom as a telltale sign that a relationship is in trouble,” says Denise Limongello, LMSW, a psychotherapist based in New York. “If you feel bored not only with your partner, but with life in general, it might mean that you’re no longer in the right relationship.”
For example, if you never have anything interesting to say when your friends and family ask how you are, that speaks volumes about how you feel about your life. “If you often feel like you have nothing to say or report to others about when in social settings, it might mean you’re not particularly enjoying life in your current relationship.” And if you find yourself bored with your one-and-only, try out any of the 30 Best Couples Games for Reigniting the Spark.
Or vice versa. “Making your significant other repeat himself or herself over and over again indicates that your interest and passion are dwindling,” says Rori Sassoon, relationship expert and CEO of VIP matchmaking service Platinum Poire. “This makes it seem like you are not paying attention to them and therefore don’t care about what they have to say.” If you find yourself doing this often, or notice that you’re the one repeating yourself all the time, it may be a sign that one of you is no longer on board with the relationship.
“Every couple falls into rituals or habits that become their ‘thing,’” says Caitlin Bergstein, a Boston-based matchmaker with Three Day Rule. For example, watching a certain TV show together or making tacos every Tuesday. “When one person starts bailing on those plans or doing them on their own repeatedly, it could be a sign that the relationship is nearing its end.” And for more activities to do together, check out the 50 Best Bonding Activities for Couples.
If things aren’t going well in your relationship and you or your partner has vetoed therapy, this is a major indicator that things probably aren’t going to work out, says Christie Tcharkhoutian, a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and Professional Matchmaker with Three Day Rule in Los Angeles.
“If your dynamic is toxic and your partner does not want to try to work it out, then that is a big sign that the relationship may be over. It’s similar to when you are driving a car and the emergency warning that you have a flat tire goes off. If you keep ignoring it and never pull over to change the tire, your car is going to drive off the road and lose control. In the same way, the dissatisfaction in the relationship and the healthy dynamics are your warning sign for your relationship. If you don’t pull over and get help through going to therapy, your relationship is going to get off track.”
“Any problematic living situation can lead people to stay out later than usual to avoid interactions with the person they live with,” Limongello explains. “If you and your partner live together, and yet, you find yourself looking for excuses to stay out, you may be avoiding the fact that your relationship is in jeopardy. If you’re staying out later than usual, don’t underestimate the possible meaning behind this behavior. It might mean that your relationship has soured and you aren’t ready to face it.”
Feel like you’re pretty much on your own, even when you’re spending time with your S.O.? “This is the biggest concern I see with the couples who come to see me,” says Irina Baechle, LCSW, a relationship therapist and coach. “They are physically together, but emotionally feel alone and disconnected. It is a silent sigh that the relationship is unfortunately headed south unless they reach out for professional help.” And for some great ways to feel more connected to someone new, read up on the 40 Best Dating Tips for Men Over 40.
“People evolve and change and grow. This is inevitable,” points out Lisa Concepcion, Certified Professional Dating and Relationship Transformation Expert and Founder of LoveQuest Coaching. “That great person you met two years ago was great based on who you were then. You may not be growing at the same pace. Perhaps they are in a comfort zone. They’re a nice person and you have love for them but there are thoughts of ‘where is this going?’ or, ‘do I really want this?’ When those questions start popping up, it’s your inner being nudging you elsewhere.”
If you find yourself spending a lot more time with your children than you do with your partner, it could be a sign that you (or they) are looking for a way out. “This person or couple is trying to test out role of a single parent, or just does not have a choice because the other parent is nowhere to be found most days,” Lawrence says.
“They may pay lip-service to a kiss—a quick peck or impersonal attempt at kissing, but if it’s not like it used to be and there’s no passion in that experience, the passion is also sucked out of your relationship,” Sedacca explains. “It’s over in the romantic sense; you’re roommates and not soulmates any longer.”
Yes, really. “Shifts in weight—up or down—can often indicate emotional dysregulation,” Limongello explains. “If you notice that your clothes aren’t fitting the way they used to, it might be a good time to check in with yourself about your general wellbeing and your overall satisfaction with your current life situation—particularly your relationship.” If that sounds familiar, check out the 10 Best Ways to Lose 10 Pounds Fast.
“Maybe your relationship has been deteriorating for a while and you recognize that you rarely spend time together, just the two of you. This could be a sign that your relationship is not in a great place,” says Tcharkhoutian. “If the intimacy and bond you once shared is now filled with time with mutual friends or time alone, your relationship may be headed in different directions and is just a relationship out of convenience instead of out of desire.”
When you’re in love with someone, you tend to see the good in them more readily than the bad. “If you lose sight of all of the positive qualities that made you interested in your partner in the first place, it could be a sign that things are heading south,” Bergstein says. “It may not always be obvious that you are only viewing your partner’s flaws, but a telltale sign is how you speak about your partner to your friends. If you’re struggling to say anything positive about your partner and find yourself speaking poorly or bad mouthing them to others, it’s likely time to end the relationship.”
“Couples in the throes of romance discuss the future enthusiastically,” says Carmel Jones, a sex and relationship counselor. They regularly discuss things like what’s next in their careers, where they want to live, and whether or not they want to have kids. “Looking toward the future is a relationship ‘vital sign.’ When talk of the future fades, this is usually an indication that the relationship is heading south.”
Changes in the bedroom aren’t always a relationship death sentence, but in combination with other factors, they can mean something isn’t right. Maybe “you are not having sex anymore, and you dread even thinking about it. Because sex is much more than just physical intercourse,” Baechle points out. “It allows partners to be vulnerable and emotionally open with each other, which is the foundation of any relationship.” For ways to reignite the spark, check out the 30 Best Ways to Enhance Your Love Live.
To be fair, this could be caused by a whole host of things, but it might be sign your relationship is causing you more harm than good. “Studies show that hair loss can be a leading indicator of elevated stress levels,” Limongello notes. “People can lose their hair for a multitude of reasons—a troubled relationship can certainly be one of them. If you are experiencing hair loss, it can be an extremely good idea to evaluate all aspects of your lifestyle.”
Though it’s a more subtle signal, “group dates at the expense of one-on-one dates indicates a dangerous level of emotional distance and could be a sign that you or your partner want to phase out the relationship,” Jones says. “While going out with other couples can be a fun and healthy activity, it’s lethal to the relationship if it completely replaces traditional dates.”
“Your body can register that something is off long before your brain acknowledges it,” Milrad says. “You can sense it in the other person’s mood or body language, even though nothing has occurred and they haven’t said anything. Yet, you pick up on something and have a hunch or a gut instinct that something is going on between the two of you.” In the long run, it’s probably better to listen to that voice and do something about it rather than tamping it down. And if you’re going to get yourself back on the market, be sure you’re ready, and learn The Single Best Time of Day to Go on Tinder.
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