Finding out that your partner is in love with someone else can be a total shock to the system. Sometimes you really can't see it coming. There are some people who are really good at hiding what's going on with them. But for most people, falling in love is a process that doesn't really happen overnight. When your partner is falling for someone else, experts say you'll likely notice some small changes in their behavior.
"We should always be paying attention to the subtle changes in our relationship because, whether it changes for better or worse, it usually evolves inch by inch," Mariel Mangold, LCSW, relationship expert and licensed psychotherapist, tells Bustle. "If you’re just waiting for a glaring red flag, you may be missing some smaller yellow flags along the way."
You shouldn't blame yourself for failing to see the signs, nor should you try to look for signs when there really aren't any. When you think things are going well, it's healthy to not look for problems. Mangold just says it's just important to always be in tune to your relationship. That way, you can celebrate when it's going well and get ahead of problems as they're developing.
So if you notice any of these subtle changes, experts say your partner may be falling for someone else.
They're Being More Selfish And Secretive With Their Money
If they had no problem treating you out and now they're constantly asking to split the bill or they suddenly have budget restrictions, Mikas says that may be a red flag. To be fair, they could have experienced a change in their job or money situation. So this is one to really look out for if your partner is also spending more money on lunches or nights out. Either way, if they haven't explained why they suddenly have restrictions, they may be keeping something from you. Talking with them is the only real way to know for sure.
They're Emotionally Withdrawn
If your partner is falling for someone else, they may not be as emotionally available to you as they used to be. If you ask them how their day went, they may be short with you and give you a simple, "fine." If you try to have a deeper conversation with them, they might shut down and ask to talk about it later. "When someone is emotionally cheating, they may start pulling away from the relationship out of guilt because they know they're betraying someone they love," Mangold says. They'll be very conflicted and withdrawn. Since they can't talk things over with you without feeling bad about it, they'd rather keep things to themselves.
They Casually Mention Another Person Constantly
Just think about the early days of your relationship. When you're excited about someone, it's so common to keep bringing up all the little things they said or did. Many times, you can't help it. "If your partner is constantly having someone else on their mind, they may start bringing them up in conversation whenever they're reminded of them," Jeannie Assimos, chief of advice at eharmony, tells Bustle. It may not catch your attention at first. If you're in a healthy relationship, your partner is allowed to be friends with people you don't know. But if you keep hearing someone's name being brought up over and over again, it may be worth paying attention to.
They're Reluctant To Hold Your Hand In Public
This alone shouldn't really raise any red flags unless it's a complete change. But if it's coupled with other warning signs, it's worth looking into. According to Mangold, on some level your partner may not want to be seen as partnered up or in a relationship with you. "If you’re walking next to each other and not holding hands, that can be totally fine," she says. "But if they've started walking ahead of you, behind you, or putting a lot of distance between you, you may want to ask them what that’s about."
They Get Easily Irritated With You
"Spending intimate time with a partner you aren’t actually interested in anymore will get frustrating after awhile," Assimos says. If your partner is falling for someone else, spending time with you may start to feel like a chore. Because of that, they may lose their patience and get frustrated with you more easily or get mad for the smallest things.
Your Gut Is Telling You That Something Is Off
Unless you're just a naturally suspicious person, you should always go with your gut. If you feel like they're distracted or that something is off, you could be right. But as Chris Seiter, relationship consultant and breakup specialist, tells Bustle, don't react right away. "It could just be a passing interest," Seiter says. "Having a gut feeling isn't really proof that they're cheating. It could simply mean they're noticing other people."
If you spot any of these signs, the best thing to do is have a direct conversation with your partner. Assuming that they're already cheating can make things worse than they really are. Try to approach them by being calm and curious, not accusatory. "Always start from a question," Mikas says. "Be inquisitive, not the executioner (e.g. 'I really appreciate how you show your love by calling me your 'love bug.' I noticed that you haven't been using this term of endearment lately. Why not?')."
It's better to ask and get your answer right away, then worry yourself over something that may or may not be happening. Once you know the truth, you can decide where to go from there.