If you've spent the weeks since Chris Pratt and Anna Faris announced their separation wallowing in your total loss of faith in relationships, we don't blame you. (Is there no hope?!) While we may not have seen it coming with our favourite celeb couple, experts say our own breakups tend not to be so abrupt. In fact, there are often some telltale red flags that the end is near. To help you stay aware of those warning signs, we asked seven top sex and relationship therapists how they know a relationship is on its way out.
“Where there is no fighting, there is usually no passion—or a good sex life. These are couples that don't have direct communication and are often resentful under the surface.” —Brandy Engler, Ph.D., L.A.-based psychotherapist and author of The Women on My Couch and The Men on My Couch
“I would say, as a licensed marriage therapist and sex therapist, that couples are severely challenged when there's a libido gap that cannot be bridged. When one partner feels persistently rejected and the other partner feels persistently pressured, it's a recipe for failure. I've seen many relationships fail due to desire discrepancy.” —Ian Kerner, Ph.D., licensed marriage and family therapist and, author of She Comes First
“If you're repeatedly having bad sex that's a bad sign. Sexual feelings are very honest, and sexuality and self-regard are closely joined together. It's hard to be truly happy if you're just going through the motions in bed.” —Stephen Snyder, M.D., a certified sex and relationship therapist and author of Love Worth Making.
“If your friends and family are all telling you that it’s an unhealthy relationship and you need to get out, that’s a big sign. This is not just one person being judgmental but the whole Greek chorus reflecting on the things you’ve told them or the things they’ve seen. You have to listen to the people who love you.” —Rachel Sussman, licensed clinical social worker and relationship expert.
“I'm automatically suspicious of couples who seem like they really want you to see how perfect their relationship is—they're trying too hard. It's actually when it seems like they both believe it's SO perfect that I'm most convinced it's doomed. Those relationships aren't built to bend, so you just know they're going to break.” —Matt Lundquist, licensed clinical social worker and New York-based psychotherapist.
“When couples seem to be arguing over the most insignificant things, they are probably looking for that proverbial straw that breaks the camel's back. Did the relationship really end because of how he squeezes the tube of toothpaste? Is there really a right way to hang the roll of toilet paper? At this point, there is often a lot of passive-aggressive behaviour creeping in like subtle little jabs to push him or her away. At this point, there is so much resentment built up that it's tough to come back.” —Lawrence Siegel, clinical sexologist and founder of the Sage Institute for Family Development.
“I know a relationship is close to its end when apathy evidenced by blank stares and watch checking permeate the room. One would think fighting a telltale sign of the end, but for me, arguing is a great sign. It shows they are still invested emotionally enough to care. They may be feeling like they never want to see the others face again in that heated moment but they are still connecting (albeit through anger). When there is an absence of feeling driving any sort of connection, it's the beginning of the end.” —Rebecca Hendrix, licensed marriage and family therapist and New York-based integrative holistic psychotherapist.
This article originally appeared on Women's Health.