Hindsight is always 20/20. When you look back over a bad decision, you can see exactly where you went wrong. At the time when you made your choice, you felt you had two equally good options. It is only when you look back that you can see exactly how poor a decision you made. Relationships are not really any different. There are usually indications that something is wrong long before you hear “it’s me, not you.” You simply did not see those signs when they appeared, or you deliberately ignored them and convinced yourself that everything was just fine.
When it comes to your significant other, sticking your head in the sand is never a good choice. Regardless of whether you ignore indications that he is cheating, that she is becoming controlling or simply that the two of you have completely different lifestyles, all you are doing is sweeping the dirt under the rug. The problem is still present, and it will come back to haunt you. In the case of a relationship ending, you will find yourself with a broken heart and begging your friends to explain to you why your partner left when things were going so well. Then, your friends have to try and find a way to tell you that the relationship had actually been a mess for months. Avoid the heartbreak and the awkward conversation, and learn to read the writing on the wall. Here are six warning signs that your partner is leaving you.
Alone in Profile Picture
In today’s digital world, social media tells everyone you know absolutely everything about your life. Privacy has become a forgotten concept, and most people broadcast the most important moments of their life for anyone with a wifi connection to see. Whether you think that social media is the greatest invention since the wheel or are cowering in the corner waiting for the rise of robot overlords, Facebook and its many digital friends are likely here to stay.
How much you should worry about a sudden change in your partner’s profile picture depends a lot on your partner. If your partner left the photo from their freshman year of college up until their 28th birthday, a new picture of just them may not be a cause for concern. If the first thing your partner did when you two got together was change their profile picture to one of the two of you and their profile picture has been a sickeningly sweet couple photo since, you might need to start worrying if they are suddenly alone in their profile picture. It might be a warning that you are about to get cut out of their life as well as the picture.
Everyone has days where they are in meeting all day and cannot answer your texts, or they forget to charge the phone the night before and it dies halfway through the day. Such things happen. If your partner is difficult to get a hold of once in a blue moon, you probably have no reason to fear for your relationship. If your partner suddenly goes from answering your every text within five minutes to being unreachable for hours at a time, you might need to start wondering if things are over between you two. People make it a priority to listen to and respond to those they love. When a person suddenly stops finding time to answer even a quick text message, it is likely that they have lost interest in what you have to say.
An unreachable partner is normally only a concern when it is a sudden shift. If your partner has never returned a text inside of an hour since you two met, a long pause between responses is nothing new and no reason to be concerned.
If your relationship were an airplane, apathy would be when both engines blow out and the pilots wave goodbye as they parachute out the cockpit window. Essentially, there is little hope once apathy gets its claws into a couple. Fixing that hole in the side of the Titanic might have been easier, and everyone knows how well that worked out.
Apathy in a relationship is normally easy to spot, but also very easy for people to ignore and explain away. When people become apathetic about their partner and their relationship, they stop being interested in their partner’s life. They no longer ask to hear all about your day, and your queries about their time at work is met with single word answers or the dreaded non-answer, “It was fine.” Your partner might also have become apathetic if you win every argument. If it used to take wild horses to get your partner to budge in their opinion, but now they bow to your every whim, your partner already has one foot out the door.
Avoid Talking About the Future
It is probably pretty self-explanatory that if your partner is suddenly deeply uncomfortable talking about the future it might be because they are not sure if they have a future with you. Some people are not planners, but it might be time to worry if you cannot even get your partner to daydream with you about where it would be fun to go on vacation next year if you had all the money in the world. A partner who cannot picture a future with you is unlikely to want to discuss anything more distant than next week’s date night and getting an opinion on restaurants for even that might be like pulling teeth.
Do not mistake discomfort talking about the distant future or huge life decisions with a partner who is halfway gone already. If you two have not been together for a long time, your partner might not be comfortable thinking about taking joint vacations. The same is true when it comes to anything to do with weddings or children. You might be happy to talk about what you should name your little boy in the future, while your partner is desperate for a different topic of conversation because they are not ready to be a parent yet. Be sure not to confuse one with the other.
Most healthy couples have things that they do alone. She volunteers at the local ASPCA, but he is allergic to dogs so he stays home. He loves to go kayaking on weekends, but she is not a great swimmer. Each person in the relationship has their own hobbies and interests. This is normal and healthy. It helps each person keep their own identity. A couple should also have things, however, that they do together. Maybe they go to ballroom dances together or decide on a whim to take a cooking class. When the relationship is coming to an end, those couple activities can begin to dry up. Your partner may stop inviting you to hang out with their friends or forget to mention activities that they are taking part in until it is too late for you to tag along. A sudden resurgence of independence is not necessarily a sign that the relationship is doomed, but it can signal a problem on the horizon.
Good News DesertWhen a relationship is going strong, you are probably the first one to hear about any good news in your partner’s life. If they got a promotion, they would call as soon as they got back to their office. If they managed to score tickets to “Les Miserables,” you heard about it the instant they had a confirmation email. When your partner is considering walking away, however, you might well be the last one to hear about the good news in their life. Her girlfriends know about her raise before she said a word to you. His brother knows that your partner finished fixing up that old car before you did. The first person most people got to with good news is the person they care about the most. If that is not you, there are serious problems in the relationship.
Hindsight is always 20/20, but that does not mean that you cannot read the writing on the wall before everything comes crashing down around you. The odds are that you will have noticed that something is strange long before the relationship actually ends, but most people are almost painfully good at explaining away the signs that something is wrong. Their partner is just tired. Their partner has just been busy at work. Everything is fine.
Everything is not fine. Stop sticking your head in the sand, and pay attention to the signs that your partner might be on their way out the door. If you catch the warnings soon enough, you might still be able to save the relationship. You cannot do that if you are putting all your energy into hiding from reality.