What your partner says to you can mean a little bit more than what’s on the surface. And if you’ve hit a rough patch, it can be quite natural to pay extra attention to what is said. Signs a relationship is falling apart can vary widely, but there are certain clues that are right there in the open. Your partner may be indicating their feelings about your future in what they say.
“Communication usually turns distant and closed off when a breakup is going to happen,” David Bennett, certified counselor and relationship expert with Double Trust Dating, tells Bustle. “This happens in verbal communication, but I would also look for distant non-verbal communication, like body language changes, including less touching, keeping distance, [and more].” Beyond just being able to emotionally sense the beginning of the end, you can also look for specific clues.
“Research from couples expert Dr. John Gottman suggests that there are four indicators that signal poor communication and can be terminal for a relationship, [criticism, defensiveness, contempt, and stonewalling]” Mark Shoemaker, M.A. Licensed Professional Counselor Intern at Revive Counseling tells Bustle. Many of the things your partner might say before a breakup will fall into those four categories.
No one thing said can be a sure-fire predictor of a breakup, but many of these little phrases may be hints.
Here are nine things your partner might say to indicate the beginning of the end of your relationship.
1″We Don’t Have To Do Everything Together”
While spending time alone is a typical part of any relationship, a partner pushing you away is likely not a happy partner. So if they start to say things to you like “we don’t have to do everything together” or other indicators that they don’t want to spend time with you as much, thing likely aren’t headed in a positive direction.
“This is usually a subtle way of saying that your partner is getting tired of hanging out with you so much,” Bennett says. “While it could just be a sign the relationship is maturing as the initial infatuation fades, it can also signal the beginning of the end.” Ask your partner why they are feeling this way, and figure out where to go from there.
2″I Just Need Some Space”
Codependence is dangerous, and it’s important to make sure that you and your partner aren’t too attached at the hip, but if your partner is receding from the relationship, and asking for distance, they might be heading out the door.
“Relationships often do need space, and many couples are too needy [or] don’t give each other adequate alone time, but this is often code for ‘I want to see less and less of you,'” Bennett says. If you’re concerned your partner is heading in this direction, try having a conversation about whether the two of you are on the same page.
3″I’m Just Too Busy To Spend A Lot Of Time Together Right Now”
If your partner has a schedule that can no longer accomodate your relationship all of a sudden, that’s a major red flag.
“While most people are busy with work and other obligations, if your partner went from spending every waking moment with you and is suddenly getting ‘busy,’ I would suspect you’re at the end of a relationship,” Bennett says. It’s important to figure out whether your partner is actually going through a major lifestyle change, or if they’re simply pulling away. The best way is to ask them.
4″I’m Too Tired For Regular Sex”
A relationship doesn’t need sex to be happy, but if your partner is losing interest in what was once a regular and enjoyable sex life, there might be trouble in the relationship.
“While the quantity and quality of intimacy varies based on a variety of factors, one sign a relationship may be wrapping up is when you go from a healthy and consistent sex life to one where it seems like there is every excuse under the sun why it’s impossible to have intimacy,” Bennett says. Of course, a low libido could be due to a variety of factors, so it’s important to check in with your partner about how they’re feeling, first and foremost.
A partner who no longer cares about the relationship they’re in might end up actually saying it to their loved one’s face.
“The face of indifference may look something like, ‘oh really? OK…’ Followed by walking out of the room,” Dr. Claudia Luiz, psychoanalyst and author, tells Bustle. “Indifference may look like a soft ‘whatever…’ followed by downcast eyes or the end of the conversation.” This lack of interest may sometimes just be a fleeting feeling, but if it’s consistent, it may be something more. And no one deserves a partner who simply doesn’t care.
6“You Always Do This”
Speaking in absolutes is toxic to any relationship, and a partner using this kind of language could have one foot out the door.
“Criticism is easy to identify with words like always and never,” Shoemaker says. “An example of criticism would be, ‘you always forget to do what I ask’ or ‘you never show me that you care about me.'” If you notice your partner speaking to you this way, it may just be a sign that your relationship needs better communication. Unfortunately, it could also be a sign that your partner is ready for the end.
7″It’s Not My Fault…”
If your partner has been making mistakes that they refuse to admit to, things might be headed south between the two of you. This could also look like you getting blamed for problems with the relationship that are a two-way street.
“Defensiveness is the tendency to never own up to your part of the conflict. An example of defensiveness would be, ‘it’s not my fault, you ask for too much from me,'” Shoemaker says. A relationship full of blame is not a healthy one — so check in with yourself and your partner if this has started to become a norm.
8″You’re Such A Bad Partner”
Being insulted may seem like an obvious sign that things are going downhill in a relationship, but often this kind of language can be glossed over if it’s said in anger or during arguments. Nevertheless, sweeping statements like these should be paid attention to.
“[Be careful of contempt,] when you begin to degrade the other person,” Shoemaker says. “An example of contempt might be ‘you are a terrible [partner]’ or ‘you are a horrible person.'” While this language might seem extreme, it happens. Take note if it comes up in your relationship, and know that you don’t need to put up with it.
9″ … “
Unfortunately, sometimes the silent treatment doesn’t go away for good after elementary school. If your partner has started to completely avoid conversation or confrontation, it’s a sign that things may be nearing the end.
“The fourth and final indicator [Gottman says predicts the end of a relationship] is stonewalling,” Shoemaker says. “Stonewalling is saying absolutely nothing. When a partner stonewalls, they have become hopeless that anything within the relationship can be resolved.” You can try new communication techniques, but a partner giving up sometimes really does mean things are done.
If you are dedicated to saving a relationship, and your partner is willing to put in work, it’s sometimes possible to rebound from a partner saying these sorts of things to you. “I’m not sure that anything always signifies the beginning of the end, unless it’s ‘I want to break up’ or ‘I want a divorce,'” board-certified psychiatrist and dating and relationship coach Dr. Susan Edelman tells Bustle. “Even then, that might be a way to begin a conversation about what isn’t working to see if your relationship can be saved. Don’t hesitate to get the help you need if you see that your relationship is in trouble.” You might find from this extra work that the relationship really is over, but it’s important not to give up if there’s hope