Is Your Partner Thinking of Leaving? 5 Signs to Watch Out for Before It’s Too Late
When I was married, I gave my husband all kinds of signs that our relationship was breaking down before I left. It wasn’t one argument that ended the relationship, nor was it something that happened fast. It was a gradual disconnection over time due to him dishonoring my needs and not listening when I’d endeavor to bridge the gaps and reconnect.
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Every dismissal of my feelings, every solution that went unimplemented, and every request for more respect ignored — each of these eroded my feelings for him a little more. Because the truth is, when you disregard your partner’s emotions and needs, you’re taking them for granted. This creates emotional distance, and it’s the precursor to your partner leaving.
However, if you catch the warning signs early enough and are willing to make changes, you can still save the relationship.
5 Warning Signs Your Partner’s Getting Ready to Leave
They’re physically distant
When someone is getting ready to leave a long-term relationship, they often emotionally prepare themselves by creating distance. In physical terms, this could look like a few different things: They don’t want to hold your hand anymore. They’re not cuddly, and they don’t want to be touched — let alone be intimate.
This is one of the most glaring signs of an impending breakup, because close physical contact is so often a marker of romantic intimacy. When your partner no longer wants to be physically close or sexually intimate with you, it’s likely a sign that they either don’t feel emotionally safe, or they’ve begun distancing themselves from you to see you as more of a friend.
They’re emotionally distant
Physical distance may be easier for you to see or notice, but emotional distancing is also a very real thing. When someone is withdrawing from a romantic relationship, „they seem less interested in what you have to say or what’s happening in your life,“ says clinical hypnotherapist Taylor Carr.
Relationship experts Bas and Priska Waijers Baumann agree, noting that your partner may be ready to leave if, „They seem not to care anymore. They escape any kind of deep conversation — especially the ones about their emotions and your relationship.“
When partners no longer want to communicate or fill you in on what’s happening in their lives apart from you, there’s an emotional disconnect between you two.
Some partners may use the excuse that they’re stressed, tired, or don’t want to force themselves to talk to you. But if your partner doesn’t want to communicate, especially if they did in the beginning of your relationship, things could be headed south.
They stop putting work in
Another warning sign, according to Carr? When „they begin to act like your needs are too much.“
She goes on to explain, „If your partner is suddenly annoyed with your needs, whether personal or within the relationship, it’s a good sign that they no longer have the capacity or desire to meet them. It’s become a chore rather than a pleasure.“
Or, this might manifest not as skipping out on helping you, but as no longer working to impress you. If they don’t care what they look like when they go out with you, but they still make sure they’re dressed to the nines when they leave with their friends, for instance, or if they’ve stopped doing the cute gestures that were endearing to you in the beginning.
They prioritize their time without you
Having time apart is a healthy thing for any couple. There’s nothing wrong with having different sets of friends, outings, and even trips when your relationship is based on equity and you’re prioritizing enough time together to meet everyone’s needs.
However, if your partner is more interested in spending time with their friends than with you (or more time apart than together), this doesn’t bode well for the relationship.
„If your partner is suddenly busy all the time, prioritizing time with their friends or in career ventures more than usual, and putting date nights or personal time together on the back burner, this is a good sign they are on the way out,“ says Carr. „With that said, it’s important to prioritize time with others and your own personal life. The main piece here is that it’s more than usual and you begin to see them less and less.“
They’ve begun keeping secrets from you
While it’s normal and healthy not to tell your partner every single thing you think and feel, a healthy romantic relationship has trust, openness and honesty at its core. If you notice your partner’s started hiding things that feel important, that’s a serious warning sign.
For instance, if they don’t want to make future plans with you but are vague about why; if they don’t tell you when they’re available, or if they seem like they’re putting in extra work to hide or keep their phone from you.
What to Do If Your Partner Seems Like They Want to Leave
While not all relationships are meant to be saved, these aren’t signs you should ignore if you are interested in getting things back on track with your partner. Your knee-jerk reaction may be to panic and plead and bargain for your partner to stay, but this behavior isn’t likely to make them reconnect with you.
Instead, the Baumanns suggest you „stop obsessing over your partner and the relationship“ and instead „focus on becoming emotionally, physically, mentally, and spiritually healthy.“
„This could mean getting professional support together,“ they say. „If your partner is still willing to look into ways to reconcile, create a priority list of things that you can do together and individually.“
There are many reasons why your partner could be disengaging from you. It’s important to be open and listen to where their grievances truly are. What may seem like a small thing to you, like taking out the trash or doing the dishes at night, might be the exact thing that makes your partner either feel loved or disregarded.
Partners who feel ignored, unimportant, or dismissed can begin to disengage with you and the relationship as a means of protecting themselves. You may not have even intended for your partner to feel this way, but your actions, words, or lack thereof may have triggered these thoughts and behaviors within them.
That said, there’s a difference between opening a dialogue to see where your part in the situation lies versus blaming yourself (or your partner). Blame only creates further divides, but taking accountability and making a plan of correction can mend hearts.
„When you see these signs begin to pop up in your relationship, you address them quickly and with an open heart,“ says Carr. „Sometimes these behaviors are done unconsciously and with no malicious intent, but when we let them go for too long they leave lasting or even irreparable damage to the relationship. Loving communication is always key.“
„And remember,“ she adds, „love isn’t just an emotion, it’s a choice. Each day you wake up, you can choose to work on your love with your partner and come back stronger than ever.“
However you choose to move forward, do so with the understanding that you and your partner both deserve to be fully loved. It’s important to be honest with one another about both your capacity and desire to meet those needs for each other. That can tell you whether or not it’s time to dig in and work on the relationship — or if it’s time to consider parting ways.
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