While conducting the postmortem on failed relationships, it tends to become blindingly obvious they were doomed to end.
But when you’re in the middle of a relationship shit-storm and heading for the rocks of singledom, it is not always that black and white.
So we’ve gathered the evidence from experts, and identified 8 signs that your love is on the way out (even if that’s not what you want to hear).
1. You criticise them.
Marriage therapist John Gottman has identified four types of behaviour, that he kindly coined ‘the four horsemen of the apocalypse’ because of their tendency to pre-empt a relationship breakup.
The first of these is criticising your partner’s character as a result of things they do (such as turn up late or forget to do the dishes). Turning mistakes into a statement about their personality is usually a sign of deeper resentment.
2. You are defensive about your behaviour.
The second common behaviour that Gottman says is being defensive about your own behaviour. While you’re happy to criticise your partner on the regular, you won’t accept them pointing out the flaws in your own actions, and if they do this quickly enters into a very negative conversation.
This defensiveness normally stems from feeling hard done by by their behaviour. Remember it takes two to tango (and take responsibility for failing relationships).
3. You show them contempt.
In the same way as criticising your other half, contempt takes normal frustration a step further than should be expected in a healthy relationship, and allows you to see your partner as below you, rather than equal.
Gottman calls contempt the “kiss of death” as you begin to consider your partner’s emotions, opinions and needs as inferior to your own, and that is pretty hard to reverse once you’re in the downward spiral.
4. You stonewall them in emotional conversations.
If you’re so far feeling pretty smug because you don’t fulfill any of Gottman’s bad behaviours then you might want to ask yourself, is that because you just don’t engage with your partner anymore?
When you see an argument beginning do you simply ignore them and walk away or pick up your phone to start scrolling? Remember, just because you don’t express your feelings, it doesn’t mean they don’t exist.
5. You are subjected to, or display, controlling behaviour.
As well as Gottman’s four behaviours, relationship expert Malminder Gill wrote in a blog for HuffPost UK, that another sign your relationship is headed for the rocks is controlling behaviour (from either party).
This means being an emotional bully, checking their phone, telling them what to wear, where to go, or who they can spend time with. Gill said: “Adults have the freedom to choose what they do and when, and no one else should interfere with their personal decisions in ways that make them feel inferior.”
6. You try to prompt them to feel guilty.
In relationships people always do things that we’d rather they didn’t do, but that doesn’t mean you should try to make them feel guilty for it (especially after the fact).
Gill said: “They use the vulnerabilities of their victim in very deceptive and manipulative ways. They know how to vilify their target in ways that make them look and feel as if they are the aggressor or the troublemaker.” Sound familiar?
7. You do not trust them.
This might sound like the most obvious sign that your relationship is speeding towards the finish line, but for many people, a sense of distrust becomes so ingrained with the fabric of their relationship, they no longer realise it is abnormal.
Gill explained that this often stems from people being untrustworthy themselves and projecting this on to their partner, or as a result of them doing something in the past to warrant distrust. Either way this is toxic and often leads to prompting them to feel guilty (see above).
8. You have contemplated whether this relationship is right.
A group of researchers at the American Counselling Association, who studied the timeline of a breakup, found that one of the earliest stages is having the presence of mind to consider whether this is the relationship for you.
Let’s be honest, the fact you’re reading this article probably doesn’t bode well - are you looking for the sign that it’s time to end things? Well here it is.