Anybody who’s gone through a rough break-up knows that it’s no walk in the park.
No matter how it’s done, parting ways with someone you once cared about deeply hurts like a bitch.
One of the underappreciated pains of dating, however, is when somebody wants to break up but can’t seem to say it.
The tension lingers and the awful feelings accumulate as the silences get longer.
Here’s a way to cut through the tension and figure out if he secretly wants to break up with you or not.
15 signs he wants to break up but doesn’t know how
1) He’s just not that into you
He’s Just Not That Into You is a 2009 romantic comedy that was surprisingly good.
It’s about various individuals coming to terms with reality and understanding that somebody they’re into isn’t actually interested in them.
As the character Alex says:
“So trust me when I say if a guy is treating you like he doesn’t give a sh*t, he genuinely doesn’t give a sh*t. No exceptions.”
It can be easy to give way too much credit to someone we have feelings for and to assume their indifferent or rude behavior is something we brought on ourselves.
We may point to problems in their life or the fact that they’ve been busy at work.
We may think we ourselves somehow deserve it or imagine that we aren’t understanding enough.
But the truth is that if he’s demonstrating that he’s not that into you anymore on an ongoing basis you need to realize that he’s not that into you anymore.
It’s not a Jedi mind trick or an elaborate plan: it’s him wanting to break up with you and not wanting to spend the energy or effort to do so.
2) He starts talking about how hard it is to stay monogamous
Wait, what? Yes, this is a thing: especially these days…
The prospect of having an open relationship can seem exciting and new at first.
But once the reality of an open relationship hits home, you’re likely to find that it’s much harder and more confusing than you imagined.
That’s why a guy who starts talking about how hard it is to be satisfied just by you is basically just low-key breaking up with you.
For better or worse, he’s letting you know that you’re not enough for him.
If he wants an open relationship and you do as well, then that’s one thing.
But if he more or less tells you that he doesn’t like being monogamous and then tells you not to take that personally, you need to really let this stew for a bit.
Like it or not, something must have changed if he’s no longer happy being monogamous. Are you satisfied with his new attitude and him making it clear you’re not enough for him?
Sure, sometimes he’s just being honest about where he’s at, but usually this is just an excuse to say he wants to f*ck around and/or leave you.
“The practice of monogamy is not something he can manage, even if he really, really wants to be committed to his girl!
“This is a red flag that he is already thinking of getting out, but would prefer his girlfriend be the one to end it. He’s even giving her a reason: He can’t commit,” writes Kristy Ramirez.
3) You find a trail of evidence that he’s lining up a new girl
Whether your guy has cheated or not, if you start finding evidence that it’s on his mind you have yourself a problem.
One of the most common ways that men end a relationship is by getting another girl (or two) lined up first.
You may discover messages on his phone or apps, notice strange behavior or even see him sneakily flirting behind your back.
This is him laying the groundwork for his exit from your relationship.
Relationship expert Ossiana Tepfenhart talks about this in her article, where she writes that:
“A lot of men will not leave one relationship until they have another lined up.
“If you regularly find signs that he’s posting online or trying to start something, then chances are that he’s trying to get a ‘lifeboat relationship’ lined up.”
No woman wants to think that the sleazy Craigslist ad she found in the internet history is from the guy she loves.
But sometimes it is.
Other times he’s more subtle about it and it’s just a trail of emails with his attractive assistant at work.
Either way, pay attention to this because it’s one of the most common signs he wants to break up but doesn’t know how.
4) A shared future with you clearly isn’t on his mind
Another one of the top signs he wants to break up but doesn’t know how is that he never talks about a future with you in it.
Plans to buy or lease property, job changes and future ideas seem to only involve him or others in his life, but never you.
It may not even be intentional.
Many times when a guy has already shelved you away and decided he doesn’t love you anymore, his mind simply reshuffles itself and you’re no longer a factor in his decisions.
In other words, if he’s already basically broken up with you in his mind he no longer considers you as a part of his future.
This hurts a lot and is highly confusing, which is a perfect example of why it’s so frustrating when a man doesn’t want to be with you anymore but won’t say it.
Just go ahead and rip the bandaid off already.
5) He becomes the CEO of Flake Inc.
When a guy wants out but doesn’t want to say it, he stops becoming available in the most literal sense.
Any plans he makes with you become last-minute and slipshod.
He cancels on a dime without remorse and starts flaking on you so much that you no longer even believe anything he says.
Even simple things like picking you up from the garage after a checkup are things you know he’s going to flake on.
As for romantic factors, they clearly are the last thing on his mind.
He treats you as an afterthought and makes endless excuses about why he can’t show up for you.
He may be a busy guy, but we all make choices about our priorities and if he’s constantly flaking on you then it’s clear that you’re not his priority and he’s comfortable – or even hopeful – about letting the relationship slide.
“We make time for what ‘s important.
“Being too busy isn’t an excuse for bailing on plans because none of us are too busy to do the things we really want to do.”
6) He’s physically cold around you
One of the top signs he wants to break up but doesn’t know how is that he becomes physically cold around you.
No more hugs and kisses, minimal or non-existent sex and even a lack of eye contact are all common symptoms.
This is perhaps the most common sign of all that he wants out but doesn’t know how.
His body and all physical intimacy toward you is shut down and you feel like you’re nothing but a roommate or somebody he used to be together with.
It’s a horrible feeling, which is why the internet is packed full of people who feel trapped in sexless relationships and marriages.
Sex isn’t everything, but it’s definitely something.
And when it’s missing it can often be the sign of much bigger issues in a relationship.
7) You never seem to do anything good enough by his standards
When your relationship has become a seemingly endless uphill climb, it’s time to grab your binoculars and check out whether an avalanche is coming.
Because the truth is that when nothing you do is ever good enough for him it’s often because he’s using endless criticisms and judgment of you to sink the relationship.
When you love someone, you give them the benefit of the doubt and interpret their behavior through rose-colored glasses.
When you stop loving someone you become frustrated by them and wish there was some way to break up without hurting yourself and them enormously
“If your partner can’t pay you any compliments or even be very nice to you, that’s likely an indicator that the relationship might not last much longer.”
8) He’s emotionally cold around you
Another one of the important signs he wants to break up but doesn’t know how is that he’s emotionally cold to you in general.
Not only does he always criticize and nitpick you, he rarely smiles, doesn’t make eye contact and quickly looks away when you see him.
He’s avoiding you in every way possible, closing down his emotions to you and making it clear that he basically wants nothing to do with you.
It’s very sad, because even if he no longer loves you he should have enough respect for the love you once had to make a clean break.
Sadly, however, many men have become so scared of confrontation in our day and age that they would rather string someone along for months or even years than to be honest with them that they’re not feeling it.
This behavior really sucks and it makes the dating world much worse for all the rest of us, because it ties up great people in sad and shallow relationships they should no longer be in.
The truth is that nobody should have to put up with a relationship that’s cold and heartless.
You deserve better.
9) His life goals are completely different than yours
When your life goals are completely different than his, it can become a dealbreaker.
But the thing is that he may exaggerate this or act completely inflexible as a way to sink a relationship that he wants out of.
The fact of the matter is that two people who are very in love can almost always find some sort of compromise or way to stay together during tough times.
Even in the middle of confusion and trials, they will find a way to compromise or even maintain something long-distance.
But if he’s using his different goals to stand as a roadblock to your future then it’s probably because he doesn’t want a future with you in the first place.
“A man might be perfect for you in every way except for one or two big-ticket items.
“For example, maybe you want kids and he doesn’t. Or maybe he loves living in Boston, but you feel most alive in Los Angeles.”
10) He exaggerates, lies and won’t open up about his life anymore
One of the top signs he wants to break up but doesn’t know how is that he closes down and starts lying about all sorts of things.
As Lachlan Brown notes, when a guy doesn’t really want to break up with you he remains open and honest.
But when he does want to end things he’ll tend to become sneaky.
His white lies may seem small at first, but they can quickly add up. He no longer wants to talk about anything in his life from the personal to the professional.
He may exaggerate, distort and lie about all sorts of things even without any apparent reason.
It’s almost as if he wants to piss you off or frustrate you.
And in some cases that’s true. He’s just jamming the brakes and shutting down on you until you get so upset that you leave him to stew in his own misery.
11) He stages fights with you
One of the clever ways that guys try to break up with you without doing it is by staging fights.
It could be over the smallest of things.
The best way to determine if this is happening is to think about the arguments or fights you usually have.
Are they spontaneous, real and controversial? Or is there something odd about them that seems fake, staged and overblown?
Many times a guy who wants to break up with you will fight with the intent of getting you to break up with him.
By getting on your case night and day, he hopes that you’ll eventually feel overwhelmed by all the drama and pull the plug on the relationship.
“Sure, your fights may just be a phase or an outlet for some unrelated issue, but if there’s no logical reason behind them, your partner could be creating drama as an excuse to leave you,” explains YourTango.
12) He checks out and flirts with other girls around you
Another one of the top signs he wants to break up but doesn’t know how is that he checks out and flirts with other girls around you.
This is related to staging a fight, because he’s basically daring you to call him out on it.
He’s also signalling that he no longer really cares if you’re jealous or unhappy with his behavior because he’s no longer really interested in you.
This may start as a kind of joke or light teasing at first, but if he’s legitimately chatting up girls around you it’s another matter entirely.
Unless you are cool with your guy bedding down other women and paying all his attention to them in public, then you may need to put your foot down at this point.
The sad thing is that this is often exactly what he wants you to do.
13) He commonly ignores what you say to him on purpose
You can’t expect anyone to always be paying full attention if they’re busy or stressed.
But there’s a big difference between not catching what somebody says sometimes and intentionally ignoring them.
I promise you that a man who’s in love with a woman and wants to be with her does not ignore what she says to him.
So if your guy is doing this, then you need to wonder what it is that’s changed.
Is there some reason that he no longer sees you as a romantic option?
If he commonly ignores you on purpose then you have to realize that he clearly wants to get out of the relationship but is either too scared or confused to know how to do it.
“When you now tell him you don’t like something but he pretends like he didn’t hear you, that’s a big red flag that you don’t matter to him.
“Rather than stew over it, confront him or make a clean break before he breaks your heart.”
14) Romantic time together has come to a halt
In addition to being emotionally and physically distant, a man who wants to break up but doesn’t know how will cease taking you on dates.
This includes a real slowdown or stoppage in conversations, joking and interest in your life.
The calls and texts stop and so does his interest in anything about you.
No more candlelit dinners or walks in the park, you’ll be lucky to get a grunt out of him before he rolls over watching sports on the couch.
This guy just isn’t into it anymore.
And the more excuses you make for him the more you lose your own personal power by letting someone else cross your boundaries.
Unless you want a relationship with an absent partner who no longer sees you as a romantic option, it’s up to you to eventually put your foot down.
15) He’s just not around much anymore
As I said earlier, a man who wants to break up but is soft-pedaling it often flakes on you and is too busy to be around.
Many guys who aren’t busy also come up with all sorts of semi-believable reasons to just not be around much anymore.
It’s a hunting trip with the guys this weekend and then it’s helping out their sister with a real estate purchase the next day.
There’s always something, and it always is complicated, time-consuming and doesn’t involve you.
This doesn’t mean he’s cheating, but it certainly means that for one reason or another he’s not putting time with you at the top of his list.
One of the most common reasons is that he doesn’t want to be with you anymore: literally.
“If your man is thinking about leaving, he doesn’t want to be around you.
“He’ll often work late or go spend time with his friends a lot more than he used to. If he’s avoiding being alone with you, something is up.”
Pulling the plug on the relationship
The decision to pull the plug on a relationship is difficult, but sometimes it’s necessary.
Whether you have been wanting to break up or not, knowing that your boyfriend wants to part ways is not something you’re going to be able to ignore.
Chances are that it will lead to the end of your relationship.
Many of the times that a guy is acting so non-confrontational it’s actually extremely frustrating.
Because not having the balls to be honest about what you want isn’t being a “nice guy,” it’s being a passive-aggressive asshole.
The same thing goes for women who want to break up but won’t tell their partner or just let the relationship simmer and boil until it self-destructs, so this isn’t a gender thing…
“The dating scene is becoming increasingly non-confrontational, and in many ways, that actually hurts us more than helps us.
“After all, problems can only be solved if you speak up and confront the issue in a reasonable, calm manner.
“The increasingly common choice to avoid confrontation at all costs often leads people to become passive-aggressive, resentful, and downright terrified of walking away from relationships that aren’t working for them.”
Sometimes it’s best to walk away.
If he’s showing many of the signs above then you may have to let him know that you’d prefer the ugly truth over a pretty lie.
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