Americans are searching "when to break up" more than ever, according to recent Google Trends data.
And while figuring out how and when to dump their partners, some are "quiet quitting" their relationships.
The term "quiet quitting" barreled into the zeitgeist a few months ago and generally refers to workers doing only the tasks that are within their job description, instead of going "above and beyond."
In the context of a relationship, quiet quitting refers to those who don't want to have the break-up conversation and instead are going through the motions without any real motivation to make the relationship last.
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"They don't want to do the Big Leave," says Lia Love Avellino, a psychotherapist and the CEO of Spoke, an emotional wellness space in Brooklyn.
"They want to express with their behavior what they can't with their words."
'Going along to get along'
Recently, Avellino has seen many clients who are trying to get out of a relationship but don't know how.
"A lot of the people bringing in concern about breaking up are people pleasers," she says.
"They are going along to get along and they are telling themselves they don't want to hurt their partner, but really they don't want to deal with the discomfort of being the person who calls it quits."
Because they are avoiding the break-up conversation, any signs that they are uninterested might be passive aggressive.
2 signs your partner is 'quiet quitting' your relationship
1. They've stopped advocating for their needs
Telling your partner what you need either emotionally or physically can create conflict, but it also means you care, Avellino says.
If your significant other seems to have no interest in communicating what they are feeling to you, they might be disengaging from the relationship.
Let's say your partner is typically jealous, but hasn't expressed that feeling lately. Not expressing jealousy might reduce conflict but it also could indicate a lack of interest.
"When you're feeling jealousy there is a charge to that," she says. "There is a part of you that is hopeful and believes that the relationship is worth the work."
2. They are unwilling to own their anger
Instead of having direct conversations, your partner might act out of character.
"They might be quitting because their partner isn't meeting their sexual needs," she says. "They say, 'I'm going to go out every night and make you feel like you don't matter.' They're taking the aggression out on the relationship, instead of working through it."
The things they previously enjoyed doing, like cooking dinner every night or inviting you on dates, might stop.
"Their action is meant to dismiss the other person, but really they are feeling bad about their own needs not being met," she says.
Are you paranoid or perceptive?
It can be hard to know whether you're picking up on signs or inventing them.
"Sometimes we can't tell the difference between paranoia and perceptiveness," Avellino says.
If you feel like your partner is disengaging in some way, tell them what you've noticed and be specific.
Only facts, not judgements, she says: "You want to make the implicit explicit."
For example, you can say, "Hey, I noticed you're not cooking anymore," or "I noticed you're not approaching me for sex anymore. I want to check in with you."
This might cause friction, but know that you didn't create it, you brought it to light.
"Sometimes we think if we avoid the conversation and that by not naming it we are keeping the peace," Avellino says. But "If you are naming it and there is a fight, you didn't create the problem, you revealed the crack."
"By saying what you're noticing you're not accusing the other person, you're inviting an honest conversation about what is happening."
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