As scary as it might seem, it's normal for a long-term relationship to change over time: we're all constantly growing as individuals, so it makes sense that our relationships will evolve with us — and that doesn't have to be a negative thing. If you're in a healthy relationship, even after you leave the honeymoon phase, you'll grow
together and become even stronger with time, no matter what life throws at you. Unfortunately, not every couple is meant to stay together through all of life's ups and downs, and it can be super difficult to recognize (and painful to acknowledge) the signs your partner wants to end the relationship.
"It can be so difficult to face that your partner is giving off signs they are no longer fully committed,"
Evie Shafner, LMFT & Couples Therapist, tells Bustle. "The fear or pain around may make us... ignor[e] the neon signs in front of us. But facing the truth of what is going on, perhaps the truth our gut is in touch with but our conscious mind is denying, is crucial. That is the only way we can open the door to finding the person we can go the distance with."
It's never easy to realize that your
relationship is one-sided (or has become that way over time), but it's important to be attuned to what your relationship is really like, and ask yourself if that's what you want in a lifelong partner. If you're worried that your partner is pulling away, here are nine signs that could mean your partner has one foot out the door of the relationship.
They Stop Initiating Sex
Because our individual libidos wax and wane, it's normal for every long-term couple to experience
lulls in their sex life. But if you notice a significant drop-off in your partner initiating sex or even just being intimate in other, non-sexual ways, that could mean they've checked out of the relationship.
"[It's a red flag if] your partner has either shut down sexually or put their sexual desire elsewhere," Rhonda Milrad, LCSW, Founder of online relationship community
Relationup, tells Bustle. "They have checked out and are no longer interested in being intimate and close."
They Keep You Out Of The Loop
Even if you aren't the kind of couple who syncs their Google calendars, being in a relationship means that you'll be privy to the details of what's happening in each other's lives. If you notice that you're feeling increasingly out of the loop about your partner's day-to-day like, that could be a sign that they're
not fully invested in the relationship.
"The details may not be that important (e.g. about a project they are working on, an upcoming work trip, or a friend’s party), but you feel out of the loop about your partner’s life and notice that you constantly say 'I didn’t know that,'" Milrad says.
They Stop Doing The "Little Things"
All relationships take effort to maintain, and doing
thoughtful little things for each other is one of easiest ways to make sure both people feel loved and cherished. If your partner was once super thoughtful but no longer puts in the effort when it comes to even the little things, it might mean they're no longer sure they want to stay in the relationship.
"They do less of the small nice things that add up," Milrad says. "They text you less just to connect or check on how you are doing. The thoughtful things, like picking up your favorite ice cream or asking you if there is anything that you need, occur less frequently. They have stopped doing the little things that constantly remind you of your connection to each other."
They Don't Show Appreciation For You Anymore
In a long-term relationship, it's
so important to make sure your partner feels appreciated and valued, whether that's by complimenting them or thanking them for cooking dinner. If your partner stops showing or telling you that they appreciate you, it's normal to be concerned and upset.
"You [might] notice that the compliments seem to be drying up and thank yous are gone," Milrad says. "It feels that your partner is less connected to you as a life partner. "
They Start Arguments *Less*
It might seem counter-intuitive, but arguing
less, not more. could actually be a bad sign for your relationship — because it could mean they no longer care enough to resolve problems or issues they have with you or with the relationship.
"One way to tell when your significant other has one foot out the door is when the arguments and bickering slow down,"
Tiffany Stewart, PhD, Success Coach, tells Bustle. "This could be missed by the other partner because they may take it as a sign that they have gotten their point across and their partner knows not to cross that line again. Yet the reality may be that the other partner has mentally checked out of the relationship and it no longer matters to them. Once your significant other no longer finds the need to argue, bicker or bring up certain things, it could be a sign that they no longer care and they have already left the relationship mentally, although still there physically."
You Feel Like You're Walking On Eggshells
On the other hand, if you're getting into
blow-out arguments all the time over small, insignificant things (like whose turn it is to take out the trash), but not talking about the underlying issues in your relationship, that also doesn't bode well.
"Life with a partner that internally wants out is like tiptoeing over eggshells lying on landmines," Tiye Harris, founder, and CEO of
Date By Design, tells Bustle. "Everything and anything seems to set them off. You can't even hiccup the right way in their presence. Often this edgy state of aggravation is a symptom of that person's contempt for the relationship, but in some cases, the 'fight-picking' is a purposeful attempt to drive you away."
They Don't Seem Happy Around You
Everyone wants to feel wanted by their partner, and it can be painful to notice a change in behavior where your
partner no longer seems as happy to be around you as they are when they're with friends or coworkers, for example.
"If your significant other seems genuinely excited and happy around others but morphs into a
Walking Dead zombie when you're around, it could be an indication that for them, being with you is internal torture," Harris says.
They Don't Want To Spend Time With You
Similarly, a partner who is
actively avoiding making plans with you when they were once much more available could be a red flag that they're pulling back from the relationship.
"A significant other that's subtly reaching for the door is not in the least bit interested in spending quality time with you," Harris says. "In fact, each time you ask or suggest doing something special, with just the two of you, the excuses come pouring in. They're either too tired, too engrossed (in say a video game or movie) or too 'busy' to make an effort."
You Just Have A Gut Feeling
Sometimes, our gut is all we need to know that something is off in a relationship — and you shouldn't overlook any nagging feelings or concerns you have about your partner. "Don't underestimate intuition," Harris says. "It's a sound, often accurate, silent navigator. When you can't shake the sense that your significant other doesn't find you particularly significant anymore, you're probably right on the mark. Trust your gut."
Ultimately, the only way to know if your partner has one foot out the door of your relationship is to ask them: if your
partner is really right for you, you'll be able to communicate your concerns and resolve any issues as a team. And if not, then you're better off finding a new partner who is willing to work with you to build a happy, healthy partnership.