Valentine's Day, the holiest, chocolatiest, and hopefully most oral sex intensive of holidays is upon us, and love is in the air. Except when it's not.
While love and relationships can be wonderful, they can also be horrible, and few things register higher on the horrible scale than being blindsided by a breakup or waking up one morning and realizing that you've long ago fallen out of infatuation with your boyfriend or girlfriend. The signs are usually there, and while it doesn't make sense to live a life of paranoia of being dumped, it doesn't hurt to read the writing on the wall. Often jerky behaviors start popping up before the disinterested party is emotionally ready to pull the plug.
I asked several readers how they act when a breakup is imminent and found some common threads.
Interest in sexytimes suddenly plummets
One reader remarked that she would pretend to fall asleep before her boyfriend came to bed so that she wouldn't have to expressly reject his sexual advances. Another remarked that sex became "boring and routine." A third reader mentioned that he deliberately skips foreplay and stops trying in bed. No respondents suggested shouting weird things during sex, but I'm sure a well-placed "Victory for the forces of democratic freedom!" during coitus might bring the activities screeching to a halt.
We pick fights
Breaking up with someone is hard and undesirable, and so some readers tried to goad their partners into breaking up with them first by acting super bitchy or deliberately doing things their partners don't like. Does your partner hate it when you spend all day chain smoking and drinking orange soda while playing racing simulation video games on the living room floor? Guess what's on the agenda for the weekend! Does your partner hate it when you leave the towels you wrap around your hair on the bedspread? Don't mind if I do! Is your partner a Republican? God, Ronald Reagan sucked.
We find excuses to be out of the house.
Readers remarked that they find themselves "annoyed" by their partner's presence. One would spend more time around male friends, going out socially after work until it was too late to get any quality chill out time, and then sleep on the couch so they didn't have to be around their partner.
We leave you out
While it's healthy for partners to have their own social lives, a sudden exclusion of one partner from facet of the other partner's social life in which they were once included is generally a bad sign. It doesn't necessarily mean that your girlfriend or boyfriend is cheating, but it does mean that your girlfriend or boyfriend suddenly wants to be around you less.
We stop saying "I love you"
One respondent recalled a vocabulary shift when she was in the process of coming to terms with the end of a five year relationship. He'd say "I love you" and she'd say "You're the best." Ouch.
We stop caring
At the beginning of the relationship, we'd jump on a bus and a train and then another bus if you were upset you'd burned dinner and were craving some Lebanese food. We'd buy you a dozen of those cookies you like because you had a bad day. We would notice you didn't have any warm winter gloves and so we'd buy you a nice pair just because. We'd do your dishes and fold your laundry if we noticed any sitting around, just because we wanted to. Now, you're mad at us for forgetting our anniversary, but honey, I don't want to talk about it until after this episode of Parks And Recreation, okay?
We act like jerks
In addition to picking fights and not being nice and not wanting to fuck you and generally being impolite, we probably also stop trying to be our best around you and let our jerk flags fly.
One reader writes, "I'm a cheater... So if I'm about to break up with someone, its a) always because I'm cheating, and b) totally obvious because I stop being able to even kiss the one who's about to get the ax, for fear that it may lead to sex."
Love can bring out the best in people, and it can bring out the worst. Obviously this list of observed behaviors shouldn't be used as a guide on how to behave; if anything, it's a great "How To Emotionally Damage Someone" primer. In an ideal world, we'd all communicate openly with our romantic partners and mercifully end relationships before one or both partners sought to fulfill their physical and emotional needs elsewhere, but unfortunately, that's not the case, and sometimes Things Get Bad.
If you're in a relationship and your partner suddenly starts acting like an asshole, that may be a sign that you should excuse yourself. No one deserves to be treated like shit, especially not as a prelude to being dumped. You deserve someone who can't wait to have sex with you, who wants to introduce you to their friends, who won't cheat. If your boyfriend or girlfriend suddenly withdraws or excludes or changes in a way that sends up some red flags, reclaim your dignity and leave of your own accord, even if it means you'll be alone on Valentine's Day. Being alone is better than being shat on.