Quiet quitting has surfaced in the news recently to describe a workforce phenomenon, but did you know the term can also apply to relationships? The worst loneliness you’ll ever feel is that which comes when your partner disengages or no longer invests in the relationship. When your partner quietly quits the relationship but continues to be physically present, the situation becomes even more frustrating. At least for a while, quiet quitting looks more like a relationship fading out: inconsistent but not usually a clean break away. Couples may live in a quiet quitting phase of dating for months before one partner becomes so fed up that they confront the quiet quitter with the inevitable and end it.
The signs are usually subtle at first. Although you may notice little things that create confusion and frustration, it’s not always possible to detect early on. Warning signs of quiet quitting and disengaging from the relationship:
1. Decreased physical affection. If your partner seldom touches you or shows little affection, this is a subtle way of disengaging.
2. Insufficient emotional attention. Your partner no longer looks at you when they speak to you or notices when you walk into the room or away at an event.
3. Stops seeking your opinion or advice. Healthy couples voice their opinions and give each other feedback frequently. When your partner ceases to participate, it suggests they are detached.
4. Avoidance of time together. When your partner no longer wants to be with you and refuses to go out without being joined by friends, they may be avoiding one on one time. Disengagement doesn’t happen overnight; it usually begins subtlety and builds to a blaring absence of time alone.
5. No discussion about the future. Healthy couples include each other in future decisions. They envision themselves together. When this stops, it’s a clear sign your partner doesn’t see you in their future.
If you feel your partner has begun to quiet quit the relationship, it doesn’t automatically mean your relationship is ending. However, it will if you don’t intervene and confront the issue. Typically, people don’t quit relationships where they feel heard, appreciated, and valued; therefore, before you can begin resolving the issues, you must understand what’s missing. Once you have insight into what’s missing, you’ll be in a better position to decide if you can make the relationship work. Here are three suggestions helpful for relationships suffering from a quiet quitting partner.
1. Have an open and honest conversation about what’s happening. Listen while avoiding defensiveness. Try to focus on the relationship - not each other.
2. Understand quiet quitting isn’t about a single person but your relationship. The relationship is a product of the effort invested by each of you. If one person carries the entire emotional load, feelings of anger, resentment, and being disrespected will surface. While you care about each other, you may want to escape what you’ve created together. This may mean the relationship is too toxic to continue.
3. Be considerate and direct, even if it results in a break up. The golden rule reminds us to do unto others as we’d have done to us. If you disengage and silently quit, the other person is left feeling confused, used, and unlovable. Step up and be honest about your intentions to avoid additional pain to your partner.
Long term healthy relationships require each partner to nurture and invest their time. Schedule date nights and spend at least 30 minutes every day discussing your day. Like all other things, a relationship fades with neglect.