Communication is the key to any great relationship, so keep that conversation flowing. As Natalie Jones, PsyD, a licensed therapist in California, explains on her website, asking questions is an essential part of that communication. This back-and-forth "helps you get to know your partner, establish trust, boundaries, and intimacy, as well as learn about your partner's communication style." But not all questions are created equal. In some cases, questions can actually be red flags that signal the end is nigh. We consulted with therapists to discover the questions your partner might ask if they want to break up with you. Read on to find out what you should be listening for.
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"Do you mind if I spend the weekend alone?"
Sometimes people simply do need a little more "me time" or want to do certain things on their own. But according to Terri DiMatteo, LPC, a professional marriage therapist at Open Door Therapy, a sudden shift where your partner starts asking for time away from you could also indicate that they want to break up. The change can reflect an interest in "a more independent or solo future," she warns.
To help navigate this, DiMatteo recommends asking your partner directly for clarity on whether this need for space is delaying an inevitable breakup or something they believe would actually strengthen the relationship. "Reading clues from your partner is only half the equation. It's certainly possible to read the cues inaccurately, especially if we're feeling insecure," she explains. "Directness is important."
"How would you feel about dating [blank]?"
While this could also be a sign of other issues in a relationship, a partner asking you about your feelings for other people may signal an incoming breakup. Matt Langdon, a mental health and wellness specialist for The Great Brain Experiment, tells Best Life that a person who wants out of a relationship might start speaking openly about the possibility of their partner being with someone else.
"Your partner might ask these questions because they are no longer interested in the relationship," Landon explains. "They might also ask these questions as a way to prepare you for the breakup."
"Are you happy?"
Sometimes the questions leading up to a breakup might come out more like statements, according to Celeste Labadie, LMFT, a marriage and family therapist working in Boulder, Colorado. She says this often comes in the form of your partner questioning your happiness, particularly in regards to the relationship. Whether phrased as an actual question or as statements like, "It seems like you aren't happy with me anymore" or "I don't know what to do to make you happy," this is a major red flag.
"These questions center on the other person mostly, but they also reveal the partner who is frustrated and feeling done with the relationship," Labadie explains.
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"Why are we even in a relationship?"
If you're not prepared for your relationship to end, you might even miss the most direct questions. Labadie tells Best Life that some people are very clear before a breakup—asking things like, "Why are we even doing this?" or "What's the point anyway?" According to the Colorado therapist, these inquiries might follow other signs of frustration in the relationship, like questioning your happiness.
"These questions indicate your partner's frustration has fallen into the collapsed territory," she warns. "Collapse is a state of black-and-white thinking. It indicates that your partner no longer sees a way to fix the relationship."
"Do you think it might rain?"
When we don't know what to say to a stranger or acquaintance, many of us revert to mundane small talk—like asking about the weather. If your partner starts doing this exclusively, it could be clear sign that a breakup is on their mind, according to Labadie. After all, weather talk is often "used to fill awkward silences, or divert the conversation away from uncomfortable topics," social anthropologist Kate Fox previously explained to BBC in 2015.
Labadie tells Best Life that this type of communication will usually be accompanied by certain body language and emotion as well. "Your partner may not make eye contact with you any longer or for very long. They will look away. They might sigh heavily around you. They may also ignore you or shut doors hard," she says. "They may also show more anger or more stoicism. They may not talk with you about anything more than the weather."