When you think about a breakup, you probably imagine a dramatic confrontation, where one or both people leave the room in tears. But sometimes you just eventually notice subtle signs that
your relationship is beginning to end.
"Not all relationships end with a big bang, and the ones that don't can often be harder to detect and harder to move forward with, because we still deeply admire and respect this person,"
Clara Artschwager, a modern dating and relationships coach, tells Bustle. In fact, in many situations, the end of a partnership can look more like a fizzle than a clean break.
"It's hard to shake the societal programming that all relationships are meant to amount to marriage or long-term partnership," Artschwager says. "But the reality is, each relationship serves a different purpose in our lives." Maybe one partner helped you learn something important about yourself, and another made the perfect companion for some of your favorite vacations. Whatever you love about your current partner, if you begin to notice some issues that don't seem like they'll be resolvable, it might be time to go ahead and let go of them.
Here are some
subtle signs that your relationship might be drawing to a close, according to experts.
You Don't Look Forward To Time Together
When you're in a relationship that's going strong, you probably get excited to think about going home to your partner after a long day (or going on a date with them if you don't live together). But if you start to feel less interested in spending time together, that might be a sign that the relationship is beginning to draw to a close. "Early in a relationship, you want to share your time, thoughts, and day with your partner,"
Joanne Ketch, LPC, LMFT, a psychotherapist in private practice, tells Bustle. "In a good relationship, this deepens into friendship and while the urgency might shift, the desire to share and be together does not."
You Daydream About Being Single
Do you sometimes find yourself dreaming about what it would be like to be single again or to be with a different partner? This might be totally harmless if it happens rarely, because it's common for people to wonder about ways their life could be different. But if this is a regular daydream of yours, that might not bode well
for your relationship. "It's not that you will cheat, but your heart and desire for passion and excitement is seeking stimulation," Ketch says. If you still want to be with your partner, try to spice things up with them so that you bring some of that excitement back into the relationship.
You Can't Get Out Of A Rut
Speaking of spicing things up, one sign that things might be ending with your partner is if you've tried to renew the spark between you, but it hasn't worked. Maybe you've tried to change the mood with a romantic vacation, by picking up your shared hobbies, or even by going to couples therapy. But if nothing seems to put you back on track and you still feel disconnected, that isn't a great sign. It could be that you just haven't found the right tip for reconnecting, but this also might be a sign that the relationship is drawing to a close. "If those have failed after an honest investment of time and effort, it might be time to leave," Ketch says.
There's An Issue You Can't Work Past
If you have identified an issue in the relationship that you know in your heart you can't get past, that's a clue that this might be the
beginning of the end with your partner. "Maybe you want kids and your romantic partner doesn't," Ketch says. "Maybe you feel a certain way about religion or spirituality and your partner's perspective will never be a match." In the beginning of a relationship, it can be easy to overlook the small ways that your ideals don't match up, but as you spend more time as a couple, something that you can't really work past might become clear. "It's important to honor who people say they are and what they want and not try to change them in order to stay in relationship with them," Ketch says.
Your Partner Regularly Gets On Your Nerves
If you've been with someone long enough, chances are that you've discovered a habit of theirs that grinds your gears. Maybe they won't stop cracking their knuckles, or they insist on leaving dirty dishes in the sink for days to "soak." Whatever it is that bugs you, if you stay irritated with your partner but don't feel that way with other people, that could be a clue that the relationship might be ending, Ketch says. "In a healthy relationship, investments into affection and playfulness 'cover' the withdrawals of the habits that might annoy your partner," she says. "In a relationship that's ending, those moments of playfulness and affection have decreased and the annoyance becomes more apparent."
Your Life Goals Have Changed
As you get older, you probably discover more about yourself. That means that your life goals might not be the same as they were a few years ago. Sometimes, a couple's shifting life dreams might remain compatible, but if they're no longer in sync, that could be an issue. If the couple's individual life goals have dramatically changed — for example, one person now wants to move to a new city while the other doesn't — that might signal the beginning of the end of the relationship, Artschwager says. "There are some changes that bring a couple together and some that pull them apart," she says. "The latter can be a harsh reality, but it's important to not deny those pulls."
You No Longer Feel Like Yourself
No matter who you are or aren't dating, you should always feel like you're your own person. The minute that you're no longer showing up as your authentic self is a sign that your relationship might not be one that should continue. "We talk so much about showing up as our true selves in the early days of getting to know someone, but the same applies all throughout the relationship," Artschwager says. "Your identity, yours values, your belief systems may have evolved, but if you're not stepping into those changes in the presence of your partner, it's important to explore why." Maybe you're worried that they won't like this new you as much as the person they fell for? Maybe you're just afraid to open up? Whatever it is, if you can't be yourself with your partner, that's not a good sign for the longevity of the relationship.
You Look For Reasons To Break Up
If you find yourself trying to find something wrong about your partner and make it a reason for the “future” breakup, that's a pretty good sign that your time with your partner is drawing to an end, dating and relationship expert Celia Schweyer, from
DatingScout.com, tells Bustle. Every relationship ends a little differently. Some just fizzle out as both people realize that it's time to part ways, and others end much more tumultuously due to an issue like infidelity. "Either way, nobody wants to be blamed and become the bad cop," Schweyer says. "So subconsciously, we are trying to dig on all the negative traits of the other person, or perhaps the wrong things that [they have] done in the past so that, when it's confrontation time, it’s not because of you, but because of your partner."
Whatever signs might be present in your life, make sure to go ahead and address them if you are sure you don't want to end things with your partner. But if you think it might be time to move on, go for it.