Today in Detangle
Some relationships work and some don’t. But how do you know when your relationship is about to fail? In my experience, my ex-partner had been thinking of breaking up with me for several months until I started to realize something was off. I know this because fortunately we’ve ended the relationship on good terms and we talked about this. Pay attention to these questions—they may hold a lot of meaning.
How do you know your romantic relationship is heading toward a breakup? Well, sometimes the telltale signs of an end may be right under our noses, but we’re not ready to acknowledge them.
The reasons, the frequency, and the coping mechanisms of a breakup can vary, but the pain that comes afterward remains constant. Similarly, while some relationships can be saved, others are just sources of negativity, anger, and fights. The point here? Each relationship is different and unique.
However, therapists point out that there are some tendencies that you may want to keep an eye on. For instance, if you and your partner have more arguments than happy moments spent together, this may be a warning sign that something is off.
Which brings me to the next important thing to highlight, which is communication. Talking openly with your partner is extremely healthy for your relationship, so keep that conversation flowing. In fact, Natalie Jones, a licensed therapist in California, explains that asking questions is a crucial part of that communication.
According to Jones, this back-and-forth helps you learn about your partner’s communication styles, get to know them better, and establish boundaries, trust, and intimacy. Yet, not all questions are created equal.
You might be surprised to learn that they can be warning signs that your loved one is thinking about breaking up. We’ve talked to some therapists to discover the questions that show that the end is nigh. Keep reading to find out what you should keep an eye on!
1. “Do you mind if I spend the weekend alone?”
We all sometimes need more “me time.” It’s normal to do certain things on your own, and it can be a healthy thing to do within a romantic relationship.
However, Terri DiMatteo, a professional relationship therapist at Open Door Therapy, explains that a sudden change in your loved one’s behavior where they start asking for time away from you could be a sign that they want to call it quits. She points out that the shift can reflect a penchant for “a more independent or solo future.”
In order to deal with this situation, DiMatteo suggests asking your loved one directly whether this need for space is postponing an inevitable separation or something they believe would benefit the relationship.
Yet, she further says that reading the clues from your significant other is only half the equation. It’s important to know that sometimes you can read the cues inaccurately, especially if you’re feeling insecure. The point here is that directness is extremely important, so go for it whenever you’re concerned about something.
2. “How would you feel about dating John?”
While this could indicate other issues in a romantic relationship, if your loved one is asking you about your feelings for other people, this may be a sign that a breakup is coming. It may sound like a stupid question, but experts say some partners do actually have weird curiosities like this.
According to Matt Langdon, a wellness and mental health specialist for The Great Brain Experiment, a person who considers ending a romantic relationship may start speaking openly about their partner potentially being with someone else.
As Langdon explained, your loved one may ask these kinds of questions because they no longer want to stay committed to the relationship. In other words, this translates as a lack of interest in the current relationship.
Therapists also point out that a partner who asks these questions may do so to prepare the other for the breakup. This definitely isn’t a healthy way to break up with someone. If your loved one starts asking you this, you may want to openly ask them in return: “Do you want to be in this relationship?”
3. “Where do you see us as a couple going?”
Sometimes both partners in a romantic relationship may be struggling to see it lasting, even if they don’t verbally state it. According to Tiffany Homan, a marriage expert working with Texas Divorce Laws, if your loved one wants to split, they may start questioning you about your thoughts to see whether you are on the same page or not.
As Homan points out, they may start asking questions like, “Do you see me in your future?” or “Where do you see us as a couple going?” The reason why a partner may do that is that they have already made up their mind and want to hear your point of view.
Experts say that these questions may be a sign that your loved one is thinking of breaking up with you, as they have a general idea of what their future would look like except for the fact that you’re not part of it; hence, they want to know your perspective.
4. “What would you do if we ended things?”
Similarly, a partner who no longer wants to be in a relationship but doesn’t have the courage to speak their mind will try to see if the other one is in the same situation. According to Joseph Pyuglisi, the CEO of Dating Iconinc and a relationship expert, your loved one may try getting a sense of how you’re going to react to the split before pulling the trigger with you.
This could come across through questions such as, “How would you react if we broke up?” or “What would you do if we weren’t a couple anymore?”
Pyuglisi explains that this way of “handling” the situation basically indicates that your loved one is sending you a sign that they want to end things but are scared of what may happen next. This doesn’t always mean that they don’t care about your feelings. In fact, some partners may take this approach because, even though they need space from the relationship, they still have certain feelings for you and are afraid to hurt you.
5. “Are you happy?”
Celeste Labadie, a family and marriage therapist working in Boulder, Colorado, points out that sometimes the questions preceding a breakup may come out more like statements. She says this usually comes in the form of your loved one questioning your happiness, particularly when it comes to the relationship.
Whether said as an actual question or as statements such as, “I no longer know how to make you happy” or “You don’t seem happy with me anymore,” this is a major red flag.
As Labadie explained, these questions are mostly about the other person, but they may also reveal that your loved one is frustrated and fed up with the relationship.
However, there are other cases when partners start asking these questions because they feel like the relationship doesn’t work anymore, but they are willing to do something to change this for the better. That’s why it’s important to openly talk about your concerns and let the other person know how you feel. By the way, here’s an interesting book that tackles the ways we sabotage our romantic relationships.
6. “Why are we even in a relationship?”
If you’re not prepared to go separate ways, you may even miss the most direct questions. According to Labadie, some people tend to be very clear before breaking up with their partners, so they don’t fear asking direct questions like, “What’s the point anyway?” or “Why are we even doing this?”
These types of questions may follow other attempts by your partner to express their frustration. If your loved one appears to be unable to identify the reasons why you two are together, Labadie warns that this could indicate that their unhappiness has progressed into collapsed territory.
She explains that collapse is a state where everything is either black or white. It shows that your loved one is no longer interested in saving the relationship.
7. “Do you think it might rain?”
You wouldn’t say that this kind of question may indicate that your loved one is thinking of breaking up with you. But let’s put this another way. When you don’t know what to say to an acquaintance or stranger, many of us revert to small talk techniques, like asking about the weather.
If your significant other starts doing this exclusively, it may be a sign that they are considering calling it quits. After all, weather talk is usually used to fill awkward moments of silence or divert the conversation away from uncomfortable matters.
Therapists explain that this type of communication is usually accompanied by certain emotions and body language. If this is the case, you may notice that your loved one finds it difficult to maintain eye contact with you for more than a few seconds. They will look away. They may also ignore you or show more anger. They may not talk about anything with you but the weather.
You may also want to read Is Your Loved One Falling Out of Love? (5 Signs).