Clear Signs You're About to Be Kicked to the Curb
Remember when 100 texts a day between you and your SO wasn't unusual, and you knew about every single silly and enchanting thing they did? When the slurping sound you emitted while sipping a cup of coffee was adorable, and your snoring was somehow endearing?
Yeah, those days are over. Reality check: 100% of all relationships that don’t end up being “forever,” end. You don’t always know when this will happen, or how -- but its reality is unavoidable. Don’t be caught with your proverbial pants down. Here are some easy ways to tell that person you’ve exerted all that energy on has started dreaming of other, greener pastures -- and, if you’ve got the stomach for it, how to reverse the trend.
You stop hearing from them
If a significant drop in communiqué happens without your prior knowledge of a big project at work, sick relative, or weekend trip to a foreign country (where it turns out you can still find ways to reach out: technology!), chances are that drop-off equals a drop in interest. Now, some happy couples don’t talk hourly, or even daily. And inevitably, the honeymoon phase wraps up for any long-term pair. But if an established precedent of contact frequency experiences a sudden slump, it only means one thing.
What you can do: Scale back your own communications. This works in three ways. A) If this ebbing of back-and-forth gibberish day in and out is just because you two are settling in for the long haul, you scaling back will work in harmony with the natural order of things. B) If the other person has doubts, you incessantly seeking contact with them is only going to solidify their escape plan -- and annoy them in the process. C) You reeling in your constant need for validation creates intrigue: which can also work to reel the other person back in. Magic.
They no longer talk about how they’re feeling
Yeah, not all guys are babblers and many women would rather purge their deepest thoughts with their girlfriends over a few cocktails (thank God) -- but in general, healthy couples check in with each other. And if your better half once did but suddenly isn’t, he or she is probably no longer interested in bringing those feelings your way.
What you can do: Broach the subject delicately, without asking a) if they’re seeing someone else or b) if they're OK. Really -- never do that. Instead, ask how things are going at work, or with their one friend who always has issues. If you get any response at all, dive in there to offer an ear. Relating to each other on unromantic stuff has the potential to remind you of the connection that still has to be in there somewhere... right?
They’re suddenly really busy
It’s normal throughout the life of a relationship for people to go through phases in which they’re busier than normal with non-relationship-y things like family, work, or their indoor tennis league. No one dateable should be available 24/7. But if your invitations to really desirable concerts, fancy nights out, and weekend excursions are being shut down without due cause, you’re stuck with the pride-gouging reality that time spent with you simply isn’t a high priority.
What you can do: Ease off. Pushing harder won’t get you what you want; and them agreeing to take your plus-one to the inevitable Guns N' Roses reunion tour isn’t proof they actually like you.
The last six times you two hung out was in a group
This is a sure sign you're being friend-zoned. It’s one thing to meet up with a group of friends after or before dinner; or to tailgate before a game with a bunch of people. But if a month passes without any one-on-one time, the plug's about to be pulled. If it hasn't already, without you knowing.
What you can do: Ask them out, alone. Listen carefully to the answer. React accordingly.
They keep standing you up
You invite your SO out, they say yes, then bail at the last minute. More than once. And not with some totally convincing reason why this is happening, again. How much work can a person possibly bring home? What you’re looking at here is someone who felt obligated to say yes to you; then, left to simmer, went cold.
What you can do: Sorry -- after this happens three times, they’re out.
Each one of your flaws is pointed out
This isn't about you being told there's a bit of chicken wing in your teeth. No, we're talking next-level nagging: the way you drive, the way you eat, your snoring, the way you say “hello”... everything is fair game. Including your breathing. In other words, they’re finding it hard to be around you.
What you can do: Your only option here is to let it go, if you like being constantly demeaned and belittled. Starting a fight is taking the bait. So be stoic and hope the fire runs out of fuel. Or, you know, get out since it's not actually that cool to be insulted for breathing.
Your sex life is over
As with other flags on this list, a change in sex life alone isn’t necessarily enough to tell you you’re on the outs. But if your sex life sees a drastic turn for the worst and stays that way, it’s time for you to start accepting that the most classic teller of relationship status is speaking volumes.
What you can do: Get back into shape (if you've fallen out of shape), start putting more effort into your appearance, don't apply any pressure on them for at least a week, and drop all clinginess. Busy partners = attractive partners.
They’re defensive and dramatic over ridiculous things
Does you asking a follow-up question create a fight? Do all discussions about politics, holes in Star Wars plots, or Super Bowl picks turn into an argument? If benign conversation consistently sparks controversy and you know less and less about where this person has been hanging out (and with whom), chances are decent your SO is picking fights to justify ways out -- and/or has an increasing interest in something -- or someone -- else.
The definitive end of PDA
You used to have to pry their fingers off of you in front of their grandparents at holiday dinners. Now you can’t get a peck on the lips. On a crowded street. In the dark. Granted, couples who have been together a while and have a modicum of couth aren't rounding bases on the subway. But if two weeks ago you were enjoying plenty of petting and now can't get a hand-hold, that's a warning sign.
What you can do: Act like it isn't bothering you and play it high-brow. Giving this person the opportunity to come around is the only way he or she will. Meanwhile, vent your pent-up, swelling senses of insecurity at the gym.
There’s a bright future ahead -- but you’re not in it
A move that you’re not considered for, a life change you’re not part of, a return to school without a discussion over whether this is a good move for the both of you... there appears to be a big, bold future planned that's got absolutely nothing to do with you.
What you can do: For this, fortune favors the brave. Sit your bae down and ask about where you fit into these plans -- then watch their eyes and body language. It should become abundantly clear where their intentions lie.
Things may feel bleak! But before you go down a rabbit hole of despair, excessive pizza binges, and John Cusack moviethons, you're wise to remember that if there's really someone for everyone, yours is still out there. Along with a whole sea of future exes you'll be smarter about dumping first.
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Nicole Caldwell is Thrillist's Sex & Dating editor and has absolutely been on the losing -- and leaving -- side of every one of these signs.