As much as it might be a difficult concept to process, there may come a time in your life when your partner wants to start seeing other people. It doesn't mean they want to give you up entirely but, instead, they may want to feel out the waters of what else the world has to offer them. I know; I know, it it can be painful. But sometimes it just happens and when it does, it's important to be aware of the signs.
"The only foolproof way to know for sure if your partner wants to date other people is if you ask them and they confirm," Dating Coach Pella Weisman tells Bustle. "If you're open to this idea, you can then have a conversation about how this might look and what agreements you would want to have in place."
But if you're not quite ready to address it or feel like you need more ammo before you do, here are seven signs that your partner wants to be dating other people. Just remember, if that's the case, you're in no way obligated to stay with them while they try to "find themselves," or "sow their wild oats," or whatever line they give you.
1. Your Partner's 'Wandering Eye' Is Wandering More Often
Although it's human nature to notice someone who's good looking, no matter than gender, when your partner's eye is wandering a little too often and lingering a little too long, that's a sign that their interests are starting to go to other places.
"When your partner is looking at other people more than he or she normally does, and there’s that extra beat where you see he or she is waiting for eye contact with that other person, you’re with someone who’s looking for more — from others (not you)," Relationship Expert April Masini tells Bustle. "It’s completely normal for all of us to appreciate attractive people, but when there’s more of it going on than usual, and it’s a little more intense than usual, your partner wants to be with other people."
2. Your Partner Starts Asking You Questions About Possible Crushes You Might Have
If your partner is looking to date other people, they might start to ask you about who you find attractive, as if trying to open up a dialogue and see where your head might be at on the subject.
"Your partner seems to be testing the waters by asking you about crushes, fantasies, which movie stars you think are cute, or your romantic interest in other people," says Weisman. "Your partner may want to see if YOU are interested in dating other people because that would make it easier for them to bring up the topic."
3. Your Partner Is Flirting (A Lot)
Having dated people who were huge flirters, even when we were together, it can sometimes feel like it would be tricky to figure out how much flirting is too much flirting — until it happens to you, of course. Then suddenly it's not just that they love the attention, but something more.
"Your partner starts flirting more often and for longer periods of time," says Masini. "He or she may look forward to seeing someone who is attractive, and with whom they flirt. When you see that excitement in your partner, because he or she can’t wait to visit with a flirty friend, it’s because they want more than just flirtation. They want out of the relationship they have with you."
4. Your Partner Is Going Out More Without You
When you're not around, it's easier for your partner to meet other people. It's common sense. If your partner is making more dates with their friends than with you than they had in the past, they could be sort of checking out what's out there. In other words, as Masini explains, they're trying to "test the waters without you there."
5. Your Partner Suddenly Suggests Swinging Or Threesomes
Although there are couples who engage in swinging and threesomes that don't necessarily want to see other people, if this is something you and your partner haven't discussed before, but all of a sudden it's on the table, then something could be up.
As Weisman explains, if your partner is mentioning these things or suggesting you two start picking up people together, "This may be part of your lover's actual goal (to bring other people into the sexual relationship with you), or it may be a way to take a first step towards dating other people independently of you."
6. Your Partner's Appearance Changes
"A sudden change in appearance in your partner is a sign that he or she is looking beyond the relationship," says Masini. "When your partner is thinking of dating other people, he or she is going to start priming him or herself to do so — and that usually starts with makeover elements."
7. Your Partner Starts Throwing Around The Idea Of Polyamory
"[If] your partner initiates abstract, philosophical conversations about polyamory, open relationships, or non-monogamy (or conversations about other couples who have those agreements)," says Weisman. "This may be their way of trying to see what you think about these ideas." Make no mistake; polyamory definitely works for a lot of couples, but if it's not for you, make sure you make it loud and clear.
No matter what you suspect or what eventually comes out of these noticing these signs, a conversation has to follow. "Talking together about what this might mean for the future of your relationship is an important thing to do," says Weisman. "Don't underestimate the power of direct conversation, it does wonders for any type of relationship!" See? At the end of the day, it always comes back to communication.