The road to breaking up is paved with the silent treatment, eye rolls, and plans for the future that leave out the other person.
What else do couples on the verge of splitting up do regularly? Below, therapists share eight daily habits that suggest a couple is headed for heartbreak.
1. They ignore each other’s core needs.
“Oftentimes, when couples are close to splitting up, there are deep feelings of resentment. As a result, they tend to focus on their own needs and not the needs of their partners. You’ll hear them say things like, ‘I’m doing this for me’ or ‘This is in my best interest for once’ instead of ‘This is in the best interest of the relationship.’ This is problematic because it is an abandonment of the relationship and while it likely occurs because one person is already feeling alone, it definitely encourages being alone. When we feel like our partner doesn’t have our back, then we have more justification for leaving the relationship.” ― Anne Crowley, a psychologist in Austin, Texas
2. They roll their eyes and are extra sarcastic toward each other.
“According to research done by John Gottman, one of the most respected voices in couples therapy, contempt is a dangerous sign that your relationship is headed for a split. Contempt is a feeling of disgust and superiority over your partner. Signs that you are feeling (or receiving) contempt are eye rolls, smirking, sarcasm and laughing/snickering when you see your partner upset. Contempt is the belief that you are superior to your partner and showing it by dismissing, denigrating and making fun of them. The cure for contempt is empathy. You have to humanize your partner by seeing similarities within yourself.” ― Elizabeth Earnshaw, a therapist in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
3. They don’t talk to each other like they used to.
“Often, couples experience a change in their communications. This can take many different forms, affecting both the frequency and the content of their conversations. Some couples find that they start avoiding deep or serious topics, whereas others find that they never joke around anymore and that every conversation becomes intense or heated. Often, they find their partner less available to talk and conversations feel like they are being cut short. Whatever the case, the change is felt.” ― Nancy Stechler, a psychologist in Sharon, Massachusetts
4. They stop making plans for the future together.
“When a couple has stopped talking about long-term future plans, it’s a sign they’ve stopped seeing their relationship as long-term. It may be entirely unconscious, but they become focused on just surviving the short-term rather than thriving in the long-term. In the back of their mind, they may be making plans to be elsewhere or just can no longer picture the future they once did together. The excitement for doing things such as going on holiday, moving house or investing in opportunities together has been lost.” ― Isiah McKimmie, a couples therapist and sexologist in Melbourne, Australia
5. They try to win every argument.
“Split-bound couples tend to increase the competition amongst themselves. Each person is set on ‘winning.’ Every issue or perceived disagreement becomes a fight to the death. Realizing that a relationship is ending raises the anxiety and feelings of insecurity, causing people to fight for their integrity and self-worth. Winning an argument on whether the sky is blue, green or purple is not as important as telling your partner that you love them.” ― Douglas Brooks, a therapist in New York City
6. They don’t say “hello” or “goodbye” anymore.
“When couples are close to splitting up, not only do they stop doing the little things, like bringing flowers, saying ‘I love you,’ and other thoughtful and appreciative gestures, they also tend to stop saying ‘hello’ and ‘goodbye’ to one another. The couple oftentimes will avoid initiating or responding to a simple gesture for connection: a ‘good morning,’ ‘goodbye,’ or ‘hey, I’m so glad you’re home from work.’ It’s like the other person isn’t even there. They will ignore one another. This is very hurtful because it can be perceived as not only dismissive but also dehumanizing. It’s a painful lack of interaction. If someone is considering leaving a relationship, it tends to reinforce their decision.” ― Crowley
7. They make big life decisions without consulting each other first.
“Couples begin making unilateral decisions when they’re considering breaking up. They stop considering their partners thoughts and feelings and do not seek or accept their partner’s influence. In my office, I take note when partners use the word ‘I’ when discussing decisions rather than ‘we.’ While it’s OK to have a sense of self and independence, it’s a sign of disrespect to leave your partner out of decisions that concern him or her.” ― Earnshaw
8. They don’t have the energy to argue anymore.
“Some split-bound couples will see an increase in arguments, but others will see an end to arguing altogether. One or both partners will have already made the decision internally to end the relationship, so arguing or asking for what they want to be different doesn’t seem important anymore. Trying to change things seems futile, so couples experience a lull in tensions. Normal triggers for arguments or attempts to draw the other partner into a discussion simply get ignored.” ― McKimmie