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Is Your Partner "Quiet Quitting" Your Relationship? How to Tell

The signs your partner is planning on breaking up with you may already be there.

“Quiet Quitting,” or “doing the minimum requirements of one’s job and putting in no more time, effort, or enthusiasm than absolutely necessary,” became all the rage as more and more people were experiencing poor work-life balance, burnout, and low job satisfaction.

While “Quiet Quitting” was often posited as a bad thing, there’s nothing wrong with asserting clear work boundaries and prioritizing your own self-care and mental health over the promise of a promotion or “hustle culture.”

But we can “Quiet Quit” in other areas of our lives that aren’t actually beneficial to our well-being.

If you’ve noticed that your partner has only started investing enough “time, effort, or enthusiasm…absolutely necessary” to keep a relationship with you but not move it forward, then they may be “Quiet Quitting” your relationship.

Why Do People “Quiet Quit” Their Relationships? While 69% of problems a couple faces are considered “unsolvable,” if a couple has poor communication or conflict-resolution skills, this can lead to a partner “Quiet Quitting” a relationship.

People often check out from relationships usually far before they actually leave. They fall out of love or get fed up. They may feel helpless to change a particular dynamic, stuck due to financial or religious reasons, or generally unhappy with the level of intimacy or connection.

Often as a person withdraws, the negativity in the relationship can mount. Criticism, contempt, defensiveness, and stonewalling are such good indicators of the end of a relationship that Dr. John Gottman could predict a couple’s chance of divorce at a 94% success rate. He did this just from watching a couple during the first 3 minutes of an argument or discussion about an area of conflict.

Signs That Your Partner Is “Quiet Quitting” Your Relationship Communication problems in relationships can be incredibly damaging, and the signs of a partner “Quiet Quitting” the relationship may not be entirely obvious. Fortunately, there are potential cues that can indicate a silent breakup. If your partner begins exhibiting any of the following signs, it may be time to open the lines of communication and figure out what’s going on.

1. Loss of Intimacy If your partner has stopped being romantic, physical, and otherwise intimate with you, this could be an indication that they are disconnecting emotionally. Often physical intimacy can be a barometer of our relationship’s emotional health. If a partner that was previously very physically affectionate suddenly stops, it can be a sign that they’re not wanting to engage in the emotional intimacy necessary to reconnect in that way.

2. Lack of Communication Communication is key in healthy relationships, but when a partner is “Quiet Quitting” a relationship, they may stop communicating with you entirely. You may feel out of the loop on what’s going on with them emotionally or personally. It’s important to check in frequently and make sure your feelings and needs are being heard and understood. You may also discover that they’re less willing to discuss things directly related to your relationship’s future.

3. More Negative Interactions If interactions between you and your partner become more negative or explosive, it could be a sign that your partner is having difficulty expressing themselves. It’s important to pay attention to how you and your partner talk to each other — if it’s become more combative than supportive, then there could be an underlying issue that needs to be addressed.

4. More Secrecy If your partner has become more secretive and is no longer sharing information with you about their day or other aspects of their life, this is a sign of them “Quiet Quitting.” They may be trying to avoid causing unnecessary pain or conflict to make the inevitable break-up more amicable, or they may be unsure about their feelings and thus are using it to give themselves time to come to a clearer conclusion about your relationship.

5. Less Presence You may notice your partner being home with you less and less. They may have to work longer hours. They may text you back less. They may only respond to texts, phone calls, or conversations instead of initiating them themselves. You may also notice that when they occupy the same space as you, they may not be very emotionally present. They may be on their phone or watching the TV intently, or they may be occupied in something else, like a video game.

What to Do If you discover that your partner may be “Quiet Quitting” your relationship, it’s important to try to have an open and honest conversation with them.

It can be helpful to use this format from Nonviolent Communication by Marshall B. Rosenberg:

  • Observations: What you see, hear, remember, etc.

  • Feelings: Give an emotion here, like sad, scared, neglected, etc.

  • Needs: What you need or value

  • Requests: Something concrete that you would like your partner to do

Here’s an example specific to “Quiet Quitting:”

  • Observations: I’ve noticed lately that you’ve been home less and less, and when you are home, you’ve not seemed to want to share much with me about how you’re doing.

  • Feelings: I’ve been feeling really sad and confused.

  • Needs: I need to feel secure in our relationship, and that’s hard to do when I feel like we’re not connecting.

  • Requests: Could we sit down and have a conversation about what we need to do to improve our connection?

It may be difficult to deal with a partner that seems to be slowly receding away from you, but healthy relationships are built on overcoming issues like this and reconnecting. However you decide to bring it up, it’s important to try to approach it with empathy and understanding, and to listen actively to what your partner has to say and then try to work together to find a solution that works for both of you.

If you’re unable to have a productive conversation or if your partner is unwilling to communicate, it may be necessary to seek the help of a therapist, counselor, or coach.

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