When a man breaks up with a woman, it's with the tactical efficiency and awkwardness of a Galapagos green sea turtle stuck on its back and struggling to roll over. There's squirming and flailing involved. And when nothing seems to work, he gives up and accepts that he's going to be there for a while.
The process typically includes an initial phase of trying to get her to break up with him; done, of course, in the most passive of possible ways. His girlfriend is the equivalent of a show he doesn't want to watch -- and the relationship is the remote control he can't find. Instead of getting up off the proverbial couch to hunt down said remote, the man spends most of his time whining about the remote and complaining that the show is sucking his soul.
Without talking, sex, or date nights, most ladies can tell something is up. But there are always more subtle signs leading up to this point. Here they are.
The Sexual Fitbit is showing fewer footsteps away from the bed
Your first sign that something is very wrong is when the man becomes less spontaneous about sex... geographically speaking.
There's a legendary clip from The Newlywed Game where the host asks the wife to share the strangest place she and her husband have made love. The wife replies "in the butt." So, to be clear, when I mention geography, I mean where in the house, not where on the body.
When the spark is still there, sex just happens. You reach for a glass of water and it happens. You ask if this spot on your shirt looks like mustard and it happens. You order food and realize it will be 20 minutes before the delivery guy gets there, and it happens.
Quite often you get it on without being bothered to move to the bedroom. It's not about channeling some inner Mickey Rourke and christening the kitchen table. It's more about "I was grabbing my keys from the mantle, and I remembered that I want you like crazy." As the Cialis Daily commercials say, "Why should you have to wait when the mood strikes you?"
So when sex becomes infrequent and localized, something is definitely afoot.
Say Yes to the Dress is met with no objections
Talking is the first thing to go when a relationship sours, but it's a gradual process. Long before no talking are phases of stripping away conversation that isn't absolutely necessary. Negotiation is a great place to start. Do you know how much time it takes to negotiate? She gives a suggestion, then he gives a suggestion, and then the alternatives. An unhappy guy says things like, "You decide" and "Whatever you want is fine." What his partner perceives as disinterest in the subject is more likely disinterest in the interaction.
When a guy watches more of his girlfriend's TV shows, he's cutting out negotiation talk. This also eliminates having to explain the premise of his show, who the characters are, why they hate each other, and why that one guy can control people's minds. Let's just watch Long Island Medium instead, OK?!
Every one-liner is followed by an extended hand for a fist bump
Most men have an immature or juvenile side that we tamp down (with varying levels of success) either because we want the women in our lives to respect us, or simply because it annoys the crap out of them. Once things are in doubt, a man's "best behavior" tends to show a few cracks in the foundation and he feels totally OK making juvenile jokes.
There's a fine line here. Even when he's not happy in the relationship, only a true jerk will say things that hurt his girlfriend's feelings. But even a nice guy might find that some of the jokes he'd normally save for his friends start finding their way into his girlfriend time. For instance, you might be listening to "Pulling Mussels (From the Shell)" by Squeeze one day, and he keeps giggling whenever they sing the line about the "motorboat." And "squeeze," for that matter.
He asks about the restaurant's Wi-Fi before placing a takeout order
When a guy picks up takeout instead of getting delivery, he's looking for just 10 minutes (maybe, hopefully 20?) alone. He might take the long way. He may even order something else while he's there. Add two spring rolls. That'll be another 10 minutes? No problem! He'll just sit there checking the old Twitter feed while he waits. And maybe even surprise her with that gelato she likes. The market is a little out of the way, but who cares?
A guy alone in a bathroom is never a good thing
The shower is essentially a place to hide. As any relationship deteriorates, men tend to start hiding their emotions, hiding their actions, and hiding themselves. They don't happen in a particular order. It's like the color toner in a printer. Sometimes the magenta goes first, other times it's the cyan.
But the shower covers all three. A crafty guy can jump into a long shower before his girlfriend has woken up or enter the shower immediately after her, prolonging it until she's left the house. He can avoid talk, intimacy, and essentially do what he wants during his time there. It's an unhappy dude's "Room of Requirement."
And "doing what he wants" can vary widely based on how bad things are. It can be as innocent as "I want to be alone with my thoughts" on one end, to a well-lubricated Khaleesi, Mother of Dragons fantasy on the other.