Sometimes breakups come out of left field, and take a couple by surprise. But other times, there are subtle changes that occur right before a breakup, usually in the form of small problems that lead to a lack of connection. Of course, many relationships are meant to run their course, and come to an eventual end. But if you'd like yours to last, spotting these changes before they escalate may help get it back on track.
Keep in mind that all couples go through ups and downs, so it's not necessary to worry every time something changes, or suspect the worst if your partner is acting slightly differently. But if your connection continues to feel strained, the best thing to do is talk it out.
"So often one or both of the couple are afraid to say anything for fear of making problems worse," Joshua Klapow, PhD, clinical psychologist and host of The Kurre and Klapow Show, tells Bustle. "The reality is that the longer there is no communication, the more damage you are doing to the relationship."
It can be tough to share your concerns, but that's precisely what you need to do. "Talk about it, talk about your worries, and trust that if you love them and the feeling is mutual that talking about a problem will not destroy the relationship," Dr. Klapow says. If anything, it may be exactly what the relationship needed.
Read on for a few red flags that may point to an impending breakup, according to experts, as well as ways to potentially fix the relationship.
Arguments Are Becoming More Frequent (And Confusing)
As long as your arguments remain civil and healthy, they're not necessarily something to worry about. But if your fights are happening more frequently — and feel confusing or cyclical — it may be a red flag.
"Arguments are OK, but arguments that repeat themselves, that happen over and over with no resolution, become a toxic drain on the relationship," Dr. Klapow says.
To save the relationship, it'll be important to get to the bottom of the anger and resentment that's leading to these arguments in the first place. If you'd both like to make the relationship work, you may even want to go to couples counseling, to further uncover what's wrong.
They No Longer Want To Argue
On the flip side, a relationship that's free of arguments can be a sign of lack of investment. When that's the case, Dr. Klapow says it might feel like your partner is overly polite or even "cordial" with you — both of which can be a sign they're checking out.
They Seem Happier Around Others
While it's obviously fine for your partner to be happy around friends and family, take note if they perk up around them — but never quite give the same energy to your relationship.
"You might notice that they are happy with them, and not with you," Dr. Klapow says. "They move from emotionally connected to you, to emotionally neutral with you."
And this is something you'll want to address as soon as possible, if the relationship is going to be saved.
They're Making Odd Requests
If your partner asks you to change something about yourself, or the way you interact in the relationship, it might mean they know deep down that the relationship is almost over, Dr. Klapow says, and are making a last ditch effort to save it.
The thing is, since asking someone to change isn't cool, you'll want to find out why they're coming out of the blue with odd requests, or why they think it'd be OK to ask for you to change.
If you aren't OK with making these changes, it may even be time to rethink the relationship.
They Haven't Been Showing Love
If your relationship is struggling, you may notice that your partner has begun pulling back with the small, everyday gestures of love.
Early warning signs include not texting back, not saying "I love you," and not giving a hug the moment you come home or see each other — all of which are signs of a lack of connection, intimacy coach Allana Pratt, tells Bustle.
If you aren't OK with these new developments, talk to your partner and find out what's up. There are a number of reasons why people pull back or become distant in relationships, and impending breakup is definitely one of them.
They're Being Weird About The Future
If a breakup is on your partner's mind, they may stop talking about "future plans like where you are going for the holidays or planning vacations," relationship therapist Dr. Caroline Madden, tells Bustle.
While healthy couples don't talk about the future 24/7, they certainly do talk about it — even if it's just to discuss what they'd like to do next weekend.
So if your partner gets weird whenever you try to nail something down, take note, as it may be a sign they don't see a future.
They Seem To Be Avoiding You
If the relationship is heading south, you might start to notice that your partner is frequently unavailable — maybe they want to hang out less often, leave for work earlier in the morning, or are slower to respond to texts.
And that's because avoidance is often the only way folks can think to handle an unhealthy relationship. "Prior to a breakup, couples may begin to avoid one another as much as possible," relationship expert and spiritual counselor Davida Rappaport, tells Bustle.
The good news is, you can bring it back from the brink, possibly by investing more time in each other. But not until you bring it out into the open, and make a point of addressing the issue together.
They've Started Blaming You
If your partner is considering breaking up, you may notice that they've started blaming you for everything that's going wrong in the relationship — and seem unwilling to look at the situation in a fairer way.
As Rappaport says, this may be a sign the relationship has run its course. But there still may be hope for salvaging what you once had, if you're both willing to put in the work.
You may notice subtle shifts that can point to a breakup, and do your part to put things back on track. But it'll only work if your partner is on board. By letting them know your concerns, and seeing if they're willing to improve the relationship with you, it may still have a chance.