Before you and your partner break up after spending a significant period of time together, you probably go through a phase of wondering when you and your partner grew apart in the first place.
Whether this comes two years or two months into a relationship, it can feel a bit like jolting out of a dream. It can seem like the person you once felt so close to has turned into someone else — or maybe you are the person who's changed.
Sometimes, these are momentary transitions that don't actually mean the end of a relationship is near. And sometimes, if both of you are truly invested in the relationship, you can overcome the obstacle.
Here are some signs to help you figure out whether you and your partner are beginning to grow apart:
1. One Of You Keeps Asking For More Space
When you and your partner are growing apart, one or both of you will feel like you need even more distance between you. This might mean that you're spending more time sleeping alone at separate apartments, or even with other people.
If one person needs more space than the other, then the partner who feels left behind will likely be trying to 1) initiate shared activities that they think would bring you close again or 2) try to give their partner the space they need, even though it's making them uncomfortable and sad.
The only way to close the gap is if both people are willing to work on the relationship and find ways to reconnect — that means spending time together again.
When you've spent enough time apart to place a few football fields between you, you'll either need to take a break or break up altogether.
2. Annoyances Keep Piling On
Early on in a relationship, sex can be a lubricant that makes irritating things about your partner seem like funny quirks you can easily get over.
When there starts to be emotional distance in a relationship, that usually means there's less sex. And when you stop having sex, the nice, fuzzy, intimate feelings that smooth over those rougher edges go away.
This means things that your partner has always done will suddenly seem unbearable. For example, their chewing will grow obnoxiously loud. Jesus, you'll think. Who knew a person could crunch yogurt?
It might seem like they're draining your resources as well. One time, toward the end of a relationship, I grew furious at my boyfriend for asking to eat something out of my fridge.
"You never replace anything you take!" I yelled at him.
I think we broke up later that night. The intimacy that had caused us to want to care for one another hadn't survived the length of the relationship, and it wouldn't come back.
3. You Hide Behind Your Phones
When the distance between me and my former partners was growing, in-person communication reached an all-time low. Cell phones were often used as a screen to stop us from seeing one another, as well as providing a distraction from the stress of our impending breakup.
When things got really bad, it was actually like I could only see my partner in my phone. We would go weeks without hanging out, and the longest conversations we had were through text.
Now, this is 2017. Sometimes, my friends and I will spend entire evenings sitting in the same room, looking at Instagram, swapping memes instead of speaking. Just because you're on your phone, doesn't mean you don't care.
There's a difference between being distracted and hiding, and you'll be able to tell the difference, especially if you don't have anything to talk about when you aren't separately scrolling your feeds.
4. You Took A Trip And Didn't Miss Them
If you think the distance between you and your partner has grown to the point where your emotional connection is suffering, then you might decide to leave them behind you and take your next trip alone.
If you and your partner are still close, you'll probably want to call or send them a message during your time away. Even couples who don't talk every day would probably see something that reminds them of each other.
If you don't miss your partner — even a little bit — that's a big red flag. If you call them and find that you have nothing to talk about, or they aren't interested in your travels, that's another.
Personally, I think a trip is a failsafe way to find out if you're actually happier without your partner. If so, it means that you've already been drifting. Now, you get to decide where you want to go!
5. You Think Less About The Future And More About The Past
The beginning of a relationship usually feels like flawless perfection.
Your first date, your first kiss, the first time one of you stole the other's clothes — all of it has a tender, gooey vibe that you'll probably return to over the course of your relationship (and maybe even after).
If things are going well, you won't think that the past is where it's at, though. You'll be looking to a future as well.
If you're using those memories to compare yourselves to where you are now, and you don't like what you currently see, then chances are, you've grown apart.
Looking back at the early days can be a good way of tuning into who you used to be together, how far you've come, and how you can anticipate your growth.
If, instead, you feel like who your partner was then isn't the same as they are now, then it might mean you've really started drifting.
It's time to think seriously about whether those paths are going to circle back together, or if you've already gone down separate forks in the road.