7 Signs Your Partner Is Slowly Checking Out Of The Relationship & How To Stop It
When you start noticing your partner creating some distance in the relationship, it can make you nervous. Although they haven't said anything out loud, you just feel it. For some reason, your relationship doesn't feel like it's in a good place anymore. According to experts, there are some very telling signs that might indicate your partner is not interested in the relationship anymore.
"If you get the feeling that your partner is slowly pulling away from the relationship, you’re probably right," Doctor of Human Sexuality and creator/host of the podcast Sex with Emily, Emily Morse, tells Bustle. "No one is going to tell you they’re checking out, but their actions will be the subtle hints they don’t even know they’re dropping (or maybe they do)."
For instance, if your partner used to be super affectionate but they now seem kind of cold, it's normal to question what's going on with them. Sometimes your partner won't seem as present in the relationship because they're going through something at work or with family. In those cases, it doesn't necessarily mean they're checking out. But then again, talking with them about your concerns is the best way to find out.
Marriage and family therapist, Erika Labuzan-Lopez, LMFT, LPC tells Bustle people check out for a variety of reasons but it's very possible to turn it all around. "Something people don't realize is that checking out may also be a sign that partners feel secure and safe. They trust that the relationship is solid and they end up shifting their energy into other things," Labuzan-Lopez says. "However you always have to put effort into your relationship if you want it to grow. If either of you notices that attention is not put into the relationship, be direct and have a conversation about it so that you can get back on track or explore what's going on."
So here are some signs that your partner might be slowly checking out the relationship and what experts say you can possibly do to stop it.
1. Their Phone Seems To Be Way More Important Than You
"There’s no question that attachment to our phones has slowly eroded our attention spans," Morse says. "However if you find yourself in a constant battle between your partner and [their phone] (and losing!), you aren’t keeping their full attention." Not only is this a sign they’ve checked out, it’s just plain rude. "You shouldn’t have to send a text from ten feet away just to get your partner to actually communicate with you," she says.
If this is happening to you, don't wait too long to bring it up. As Morse says, talking about problems isn't always easy, but starting the conversation yourself will give you some insight into their change of behavior. Besides, it's better to do it sooner rather than later.
2. They Keep Prioritizing Their Friends Over You
"Healthy, sustainable romantic partnerships most definitely require each partner to invest time in nurturing friendships outside of the relationship," psychotherapist, Erin K. Tierno, LCSW-R tells Bustle. However, if you start recognizing a trend where your partner keeps putting time with friends ahead of time with you, that might be a sign they're slowly checking out.
According to Tierno, if you notice that you're consistently being put off, then you might need to take a closer look at whether your partner is still as dedicated to this relationship as they once were. There may be an explainable reason for this, but in order to find out, you have to ask your partner.
3. They're Starting To Separate Your Overlapping Lives
Slowly detangling your overlapping lives is another sign that your partner may be checking out, Tierno say. For example, if they have a few belongings at your place, but you’re starting to notice that each time they leave, they take a few items back home with them and haven't brought replacements, they may be checking out.
"If you notice that your partner is slowly undoing the intertwining of your lives, it might be time to consider whether [their] definition of serious is on the same page as yours," Tierno says. Again, having an honest conversation is the best way to do this. Although it may seem scary at first, it'll help clear the air.
4. They Stop Asking You About Your Day
One of the biggest signs your partner is slowly checking out is they stop asking you about your day or what you're thinking. "Partners need to be engaged and understanding of each other's world's and inner workings," Labuzan-Lopez says. "One of the first signs that we may not be as connected as we want to be is when we stop taking interest in what's going on in our partner's life outside of the relationship."
If you notice that starting to happen, Labuzan-Lopez says it's important to reach out and connect. Don't close yourself off when your partner isn't asking because "having a general knowledge about what they do day to day, who they are interacting with, what relationships have formed or are important," she says.
5. They've Stopped Picking Fights Or Responding In Arguments
Conflict is normal in every relationship. There are healthy fights couples should have every now then. But if your partner has stopped picking fights or responding in arguments, that may be a sign that they're checking out.
"Sometimes one partner can feel an enormous amount of relief when the fighting stops but it's usually a sign that the other person has given up on the relationship," couples therapist, Theresa Herring, LMFT tells Bustle. "Conflict is normal and fighting indicates that a couple cares enough about the relationship to fight for it."
So instead of avoiding conflict altogether, Herring says it's important to learn healthy ways to talk it out and resolve things.
6. They Can't Commit To A Dinner Two Weeks From Now
"If you used to be able to commit to a wedding invitation three months out, but now you can’t even get a clear yes or no to the potluck happening in two weeks, your partner might be recalculating how long they think the relationship will last," Morse says. According to her, not being able to make long-term plans doesn’t speak well for the future you may or may not have together.
When it comes to this, Morse believes it's important to check in with yourself. "Ask yourself if this person is right for you and if you actually see a future with them, or if you’ve just become complacent," she says. "Many times, when long-term partners start to move on, they don’t act on it for a while because they’re comfortable, and probably still care about you and don’t want to hurt your feelings. And the same might go for you, but you hadn’t realized it yet." Bottom line, when we put a lot of time and effort into someone, it can be hard to walk away. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t, especially if you're both not feeling it anymore.
7. Intimacy Seems To Be Lost
"Physical intimacy will come and go over the course of a long-term relationship, but emotional intimacy is a non-negotiable part of a relationship," Amica Graber, resident relationship expert for TruthFinder, tells Bustle. In case you didn't know, humor is a huge part of emotional intimacy. According to Graber, if you've suddenly stopped laughing and joking together, that is a huge red flag.
If you want to regain that emotional intimacy, Graber says, communication is key. "If it's a long-term relationship, you may even consider seeing a therapist to work through these issues together," she says.
Feeling your partner pull away can be devastating. But don't automatically assume it's going to end. Unless they've explicitly told you they're completely done, there's always hope. So don't give up just yet, and talk with them about ways to improve on your relationship that will make you both happy.