If You're Avoiding These Conversations With Your Partner, It May Be Time To Break Up
It’s never easy to break up with somebody, even if you know it has to be done. Whether you two have different life paths or someone committed a deal-breaker, such as cheating, the fact of the matter is, a breakup is inevitable. Perhaps you are on the fence about ending the relationship — after all, you and your partner still have *some* fun times, it’s not all bad, so maybe some kind of relationship is better than nothing, you think. However, one key way to tell that you’re in denial that it’s time to break up is if you’re avoiding asking your partner certain questions.
“Good communication is the secret of a successful relationship,” James Preece, relationship expert, aka The Dating Guru, tells Bustle. “You should both feel you are able to say and ask anything, without fear of them getting annoyed. If this is an issue, then you’ll never be able to grow as a couple.” Sound familiar? I know that I can think of past relationships where this was the case — and, obviously, those relationships did not work out in the end.
If you are wondering what some of the avoidant questions are, below, some relationship experts weigh in. After all, the sooner you recognize that you’re not facing the hard facts — i.e., it’s time to say goodbye to this relationship — the sooner you can get on with your life and eventually find somebody that you *won’t* have an issue communicating with.
1. “Where Do You See This Relationship Going?”
One clear-cut question that spells the end is: You are afraid to bring up the potential end. “Strong couples often talk about their plans for the future,” Preece says. “If you are too afraid to do this, then you can’t have very high expectations.”
Stef Safran, matchmaking and dating expert, agrees. “I’ve seen too many couples move in together only to stop communication about the next step,” she tells Bustle. “Just because you say ‘I love you’ or spend all your time together does not mean that the discussion about the future or difficult questions are answered.”
2. “Why Haven’t I Met Your Friends And Family Yet?”
The phrase “actions speak louder than words” is popular for a reason, as it’s usually true. For instance, your significant other should *want* to introduce you to their family and friends — you shouldn’t have to ask. “A partner who wants to be with you will be proud and excited to introduce you to them,” Preece says. “If you are a short-term fixture, then this is not a question they’ll want to answer.”
3. “What Are Your Goals For The Future?”
Heidi McBain, Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and author of Life Transitions: Personal Stories of Hope Through Life’s Most Difficult Challenges and Changes, believes that if you know that your partner’s goals for the future don’t align with yours, and you’re avoiding bringing the topic up as a result, it does not bode well for the relationship’s future. “Depending on what the big life goals are, this can be a dealbreaker,” she tells Bustle. “If one partner wants to be a digital nomad and travel the world, while the other wants to live close by to their family, these are very different life goals and visions for the future.”
4. “What Did You Do Last Night?”
If you’re hesitant to ask your significant other what they did last night, or during a time you weren’t with them, perhaps it’s because you don’t want to know the answer. “If you don’t have a clue what they are up to when you aren’t together, then chances are, your gut is telling you it’s not good,” Preece says. “If you are too nervous to even ask, then it’s probably because you are worried they will lie or accuse you of being jealous.”
Preece also says that guilty people act defensive. “While you don’t need to know everything, a couple should at least know where the other person is most of the time.”
5. “Do You Want To Get Married Someday?”
You may be dating someone for months, but have no idea what their thoughts on marriage are — if they’re for or against it. Perhaps the topic comes up at a dinner party among friends, when you’re meeting each other’s parents for the first time, or one-on-one. Whatever the case may be, it’s a question worth asking. “If someone’s partner does not want to get married in the future, this can be a dealbreaker for many people,” McBain says. “However, many people move in together without talking about this, which sometimes leaves one partner seeing this as a step toward marriage while the other may not see it that way at all.”
Antonia Hall, psychologist, relationship expert, and author of the Sexy Little Guide books, also believes that if you are afraid to bring up marriage (and it's something you want in the future), perhaps it is because, deep down, you know it’s not in the future for you and your significant other. “If you haven’t had a conversation about long-term commitment goals, your avoidance could be wasting time for both of you,” she tells Bustle. “If marriage is a part of the vision you have for your life, it’s important to know if your partner shares that goal.”
6. “Do You Want To Have Kids?”
The topic of having kids is another question that should be broached if you want kids, and if you want kids with your partner. “This can be another dealbreaker for many people if they have always imagined having a family of their own,” McBain says. So, if you are afraid to bring this up, it may be because you already know the answer. Hall thinks so, too. “It’s important to make sure you’re both on the same page about having children, because this could be a major dealbreaker,” she says.
7. “Are You Still Coming To ‘X’ Event With Me?”
A few days, weeks, or months ago, perhaps you and your partner discussed going someplace together, such as to a friend’s wedding or having a weekend away. But if neither of you are bringing it up, it may be because it’s no longer happening — only, you’re afraid to hear the truth.
“If something as simple as an event that requires an RSVP (like a wedding) is not something your partner can commit to, and you are afraid to ask, then you have to wonder what they are really thinking about your future,” Safran says.
Hall thinks so, too. “If you are not bringing up that trip you’ve been planning, this could be a warning sign that something is amiss in the relationship,” she says.
8. “Are You Avoiding Me?”
No one likes to be ignored, and if it seems like your partner has been MIA more than usual lately, but you don’t want to ask, your instincts may be right. “If you feel as though your partner is distancing themselves, and isn’t as available to you as you’d like, it’s best to address the issue directly,” Hall says. “Perhaps they have other things going on and it’s not about you, but keeping good communication is a basic foundation for a healthy, happy relationship, so it’s best to ask.” Otherwise, if you’re not asking, you should ask yourself *why* you’re not asking.
9. “Why Aren’t We Having Sex More Often?”
Although the amount of sex a couple has may vary, if there is an overt change in the pattern, and you’re afraid to bring it up, something is off. “Intimacy is a key part of any successful relationship, and talking about it is important,” Hall says. “Touch and sexuality is a basic human need that fosters feel-good bonding chemicals, like oxytocin and endorphins. When there’s a drop in and consistent lack of touch and sex, it can signal trouble in a relationship.”
As you can see, there are several questions that may indicate you’re in denial that it’s time to break up with your significant other. “Often, if people are avoiding these bigger life questions, it can be fear-based in that they really don’t know how their partner is going to respond,” McBain says. If you’re not sure how your partner will respond — and/or not sure about your relationship’s future — you can try to ask some of the above questions, see what happens, and go from there. In any case, communication is key, and the sooner you bring these seemingly uncomfortable topics up, the better.