10 subtle signs someone is trying to distance themselves from you

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You may not be getting the complete cold shoulder, but something is definitely up.

When it comes to breakups, we naturally think of romantic partners. But the truth is that friends can go through breakups too.

And just like that person we’ve been chatting to on Tinder, they don’t always want to tell us straight up how they feel. So instead they send out signals to try to give us the message.

Regardless of who it is, here are subtle signs someone is trying to distance themselves from you.

1) They’re weirdly polite with you

Okay, this needs some explanation.

Being courteous is obviously a good thing. But it can also signal a lack of intimacy between two people.

Think about it, when you meet someone for the first time you are probably on your best behavior.

You make an effort to be polite, but make sure you’re not over-familiar.

The closer we get to someone, the more we drop this well-mannered mask and feel like we can be ourselves. That helps us to feel close to one another.

If you’ve known someone for a while, chances are you are used to the warmth of familiarity.

So if they suddenly retreat and start to become overly polite, it may seem quite distanced.

This suggests that they want to take a step backward from you and be acquaintances again. 

2) They’ve stopped watching your stories and liking your posts

They always used to view your stories on social media but they no longer do.

It can seem trivial, but it does point to something:

They’ve muted you.

Let’s face it, we’ve all done it.

It’s too much of a statement to unfollow or unfriend someone.

Doing that tends to create drama and is usually more of an attention-seeking move when we want the other person to notice.

But what if we don’t want them to know?

Then we just privately and silently stop consuming their content.

It’s just another one of those subtle clues that they’re not that interested in what’s going on in your life anymore.

3) They’ve started to take ages to reply to your messages

The key here is changes to communication.

If they’ve always been a bit lax about getting back to you, then it’s no big deal. But if they recently shifted the way they respond, it’s more significant.

They’re not ghosting you. They are still replying, but it takes a long time.

When they do get back to you, they may say something like:

“Sorry, totally forgot to reply” or “Yesterday was a really hectic day”.

But it feels like an excuse.

Because once or twice is understandable, but these days, they always seem too busy for you.

4) They’re always “busy” lately

I’ve been on both sides of this one.

I’ve used this excuse myself when I was trying to distance myself from someone, and I’ve had it used on me too.

Here are the hallmarks:

They needlessly drop into conversation or in their messages about how busy they are. Yet the details seem patchy.

It’s generic things like it’s a super busy time at work, or life is crazy.

If you dig any deeper, you don’t get more details (because there aren’t any to give, it’s just an excuse).

They may say that they’ll check in later when things settle down, but they never do.

5) They never reach out to you

I’m not an overly proud person. So I don’t believe that effort always has to be a 50/50 split down the middle in every aspect.

I have a friend who expects to take it in turns to make the plans.

If she did it last time, she thinks they should be the one to arrange the next meet-up.

I’m certainly not that rigid. I’m happy to be the one who initiates more often than not.  

But if they’re never reaching out, you have a problem. This screams at a one-sided connection.

If it weren’t for you making 100% of the effort you would have already drifted entirely out of each other’s lives.

6) They don’t try to keep the conversation going when you speak

When you do talk, either in person or through messages, they’re very short chats.

When we’re interested in someone, we ask questions.

We contribute in ways to the conversation that keeps it going.

That’s what turns “Hi, how are you?” from a polite social greeting into a genuine interest in what’s happening in their world.

But their words feel more like a full-stop.

They don’t leave much room to take things any further.

There are certain phrases in particular that they may use that signal this, as we’ll see next.

7) They say things like “Hope you’re well”

If this sounds incredibly specific, know that it applies to all sorts of similar sentences.

The point is that it’s a great way to put an end to messaging without having to ask questions.

Let me explain:

You drop them a message to say:

“Hey, how are things? It’s been ages! What have you been up to?”

They reply:

“Hi, yeah it has! Things are good thanks. Hope you are well too.”

Like we mentioned in the point before, it feels like a polite shutdown of the conversation.

It tries to imply that they care how life is going for you, but they don’t invite you to say anything about your life by asking you questions.

8) They stop inviting you to do things

You’re no longer included in plans when you once were.

This happened to me once:

When I’d reach out, a friend would protest that she was just so busy.

But then I’d see on her social media that she was doing things and going places with mutual friends of ours.

Once upon a time, I’d always been invited to join, but suddenly I wasn’t.

The sad reality was that she stopped inviting me as she was trying to step back from our friendship.

9) Their body language is uneasy around you

If there is tension in your relationship with this person, they may find it hard to hide.

Their words could say one thing, whilst their bodies say another.

If you reach out to touch them or get too close, they may suddenly go quite stiff.

They may keep their physical distance from you when once they were perfectly happy with close contact.

Their smile no longer seems sincere, instead, it feels strained. Believe it or not, we’re all very good at spotting fake smiles, as they lack any warmth around the eyes.

In general, their bodylanguage gives off an awkward feeling that signals their discomfort at being around you.

10) You get a frosty vibe

It can be challenging when someone tells you to listen to your gut about something. The truth is that paranoia can creep in and mess with our instincts.

My partner was worried a friend of his had fallen out with him because he failed to reply to a few messages.

I advised him to not jump to conclusions and try to reach out again. It turns out he genuinely just had been busy and forgot to reply.

But on the other hand, our gut feelings can be useful clues when something is up.

Particularly, if you’re not normally super sensitive or prone to paranoia.

So you may just have a feeling that something is off.

What should you do about it?

After reading the signs you’re fairly convinced that they’re trying to distance themselves from you.

So now what?

1) Resist the urge to tell yourself stories about it

No matter how strong your suspicions are, try not to make assumptions.

Right now, you don’t know anything for sure.

We can make things worse and create a stalemate that doesn’t need to happen when we create negative narratives in our minds.

2) If they’re important to you, talk to them about it

Some people drift out of our lives, and that’s okay.

It can be really uncomfortable to feel like someone may not like us that much anymore. But the reality is that we’re not all compatible.

That doesn’t mean it’s anything you have done.

You have to ask yourself how invested you are in this connection.

How much does it mean to you? Do you want an explanation or can you live without one?

Sometimes wisdom is knowing when to let something go.

But if it’s important to you, then it’s time to bring it up.

Call them, ask them to meet, or send a text.

There may be something going on for them right now that explains their behavior. Try to be sympathetic.

You might start by asking something like:

  • Is everything okay? I feel like you have been a bit distanced lately
  • Have I done something to upset you?

3) Hang out with other connections or make new ones

At some point, if someone continues to remain distanced, it’s time to move on.

You should be giving your effort and attention where it is reciprocated.

Take comfort in the people who love and support you and reinvest this energy in them.

Or get out there and make new connections, whether that’s through an app, clubs, online, or by doing new things and going to new places.

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Tina Fey

I'm Tina Fey, the founder of the blog Love Connection. I've extremely passionate about sharing relationship advice. I've studied psychology and have my Masters in marital, family, and relationship counseling. I hope with all my heart to help you improve your relationships, and I hope that even if one thing I write helps you, it means more to me than just about anything else in the world. Check out my blog Love Connection, and if you want to get in touch with me, hit me up on Twitter

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