Knowing when a relationship has come to close involves an almost ruthless approach to objectivity. It is all to easy to fall prey to our own co-dependence, hopes, guilt or idealism when it comes to making that final crushing decision or learning to let go. In order to create as crystalline a picture as possible, it is important to not jump-the-gun emotionally due to stress, trauma or fear. It isn’t over, as they say, till it’s over.
This article will outline several behavioral traits that usually denote a fraying romantic connection, and my subjective take on what they signify. I will begin with early warning signs and progress in severity towards what I believe is an irreconcilable break up scenario.
Signs Of A Deteriorating Relationship
A deteriorating romantic situation does not necessarily signify the end of the road (if you and your ex have already broken up, feel free to ignore this section and dive into the one below). Relationships are a continuous balancing act that can often dip quite far on both ends of the scale before a semblance of balance is restored, and in most cases can actually result in reinforcing the relationship. Here are an example of states that indicate a heightened degree of distance, but do not necessarily equate a terminal breakup (and why):
They have a short fuse – As bad as an incessant chain of tirades can seem, in my mind, it is not yet the end of the line. Why? Anger, frustration and exasperation stem from caring, if they didn’t care they’d be indifferent. This does not mean the relationship is safe, someone constantly exposed to bitterness and disappointment will subconsciously begin to protect themselves by becoming numb and distancing themselves, but it does mean you are still able to elicit powerful emotions in your partner.
N.B: Do not confuse genuine anger with indirect venting. We all have bad days, and most of the time our partner is the only one around that we can interact with — and we inadvertently make them the scapegoat of our daily stress. The difference is usually denoted by the fact that venting is often spiteful and exaggerated, whereas real anger tends to have a very conspicuous and direct message, without all the mumbo-jumbo.
They don’t dress up like they used to – While it is normal to relax and become comfortable over time, a significant drop in self-consciousness (this can, and often does also entail a drop in personal hygiene) in our partner can denote either an ongoing depression or that they no longer really care what you think of them. If you’re considering which of the two, comfort or disinterest, is your case, it is almost undoubtedly the first. When disinterest strikes, it is very noticeable — and there’s very little left to debate internally. You just know.
They stop doing the little things – A person who is very much in love will have their partner on their mind much of the day, often resulting in small presents, texts, calls and other gestures which let the other person know they were on their mind. While it is normal for this honey-moon intensity to slightly diminish over time, and normalize. It should never completely cease. It is also important not to measure communication in absolute terms as an indicator due to the fact that some of us are naturally more withdrawn than others (even if we are wildly in love). If communication and spontaneity, or the desire to be close has suffered noticeably, take it as a hint that it may need to be slightly catalyzed.
Signs It’s Probably Over
Unlike the signs above, these are signs which I personally feel are indicative of terminally low interest levels, and a relationship which is no longer beneficial to one or both parties (usually both).
They lack respect – They no longer look up to you, and constantly remind you of your failings. They unfavorably compare you to others or themselves, and generally make you feel like a loser. While you may blame yourself out of insecurity, be advised that you may not have actually changed for the worse, and that it could simply be a symptom of the relationship fraying — and their new-found claustrophobia. I often find that along with trust (to follow) lack of respect is very difficult (but not impossible) to rectify in a relationship.
They no longer trust you – Trust ties-in with respect, but is usually caused by a tangible event (even if misread or misunderstood). While it is easy to absorb and shrug off insecurity in a comfortable relationship, these trust issues become inflamed when interest wanes. Sometimes the sheer volume of improperly healed scars can catch up with a couple and drown the will to go on.
A narrow field of emotions – A person who cares, will get angry in an effort to correct what is obviously a painful discrepancy of views. If your partner no longer sees you as a long-term companion, their attempts at constructing a rosier future will dwindle to the point that they longer bother arguing. This is often why I feel many dumpees seem blind sided by being dumped. Sometimes the lack of symptoms are a symptom. As a popular Italian proverb goes:
Love is not beautiful if it isn’t turbulent