11 signs your partner has emotionally checked out of the relationship, according to psychology

Being in a relationship is a two-way street, which is why it’s so hard to realize that your partner isn’t committed the way they used to be. 

Sure, they go through the motions and they say everything is fine:

But it doesn’t seem to be fine. And whatever is bothering them they won’t talk about it or get into details.

In many cases when one partner has emotionally checked out of the relationship, it’s easy to miss the signs or to make excuses and downplay how bad it’s gotten. 

That’s why it’s important to take an honest look at the indications that your partner’s heart just isn’t in it anymore, according to psychology.

1) They rarely communicate with you 

Your partner rarely talks to you beyond daily necessities. 

Anything deeper seems to be off the menu, and when you try you are met with silence or a change of subject. 

They avoid meaningful conversations and prefer silence or superficial discussions over deeper topics.

They seem to be far away from you even when they’re right next to you. 

If “you have the feeling that he or she is mentally or emotionally 100 miles away or feels walled off and you can’t quite make contact, they may be energetically closed off to you,” explains therapist Lynsie Seeley.

2) They’re not affectionate to you 

Decreased physical touch, such as holding hands, hugging, or kissing, is another strong sign of emotional distance.

Your partner has emotionally checked out without letting you know about it. 

They seem like they’ve already broken up with you in their mind but never had any outward discussion of their intention. 

They’ve just silently stopped being affectionate to you or investing in the relationship. 

Psychology writer Aditi Shrikant refers to this as “quiet quitting a relationship” and says that a key sign is “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.”

3) They avoid being around you 

People get busy, that’s a fact. 

Your partner may legitimately have a lot going on in their life, especially at work and in their recreational hobbies. 

But if they actively avoid spending time with you or finding excuses to be away from home, it’s a big red flag that shows they have emotionally checked out of the relationship. 

Instead of having an honest discussion about the issues they’re feeling, they’re quietly just absenting themselves. 

As Shrikant notes:

“Because they are avoiding the break-up conversation, any signs that they are uninterested might be passive aggressive.”

4) They don’t take responsibility for anything 

They frequently shrug off any discussion of taking responsibility and take your help and work in the relationship for granted. 

It can almost feel like they are daring you to break up with them. In some cases they are. 

Your partner’s refusal to compromise can be due to narcissism or personal issues, but when it seems to have developed later in the relationship it’s usually a sign they’ve checked out. 

Their heart’s just not in it and they aren’t willing to empathize with you or make an effort anymore. 

As Licensed Clinical Social Worker and psychology writer Jenni Jacobsen explains

“Relationships require compromise, as well as apologizing for mistakes and accepting responsibility for them. 

That being said, one of the clear signs he doesn’t care about you is when he makes everything your fault.”

5) They prefer to spend time with friends than you

One of the ways in which an emotionally checked-out partner creates space is  by valuing their friends and family over you.

Suddenly they’re nowhere to be found, and they’re busy with other people they care about. 

They are unresponsive to your needs and rarely answer your texts and calls without a long delay. 

They’re just not around. And when they are around it feels like they’re a million miles away in any case. 

“Emotional distance can manifest in different ways, such as avoiding affection, withdrawing from intimate conversations, or becoming unresponsive to your needs,” notes Your Relationship Guide. 

“It can also mean that your partner is no longer interested in spending time with you or pursuing shared activities.”

6) Their self-care declines and they dress sloppily 

easy to miss signs a man is done with the relationship even if he wont admit it 11 signs your partner has emotionally checked out of the relationship, according to psychology

When your partner is emotionally checked out of the relationship, you will often notice a big decline in their self-care. 

They just don’t seem to care about their own well-being or health, at least not around you. 

You may notice sudden changes in daily habits, such as sleeping patterns, eating habits, or personal grooming, which all take a turn for the worse. 

This is your partner emotionally disengaging from the relationship. 

“They might not know what to say or don’t have a lot of experience with these difficult conversations, so they let the fear and anxiety take over and fade away, leaving little breadcrumbs,” explains therapist Jeff Guenther.

7) They’re secretive about their life

Your partner may have always been a fairly private person. 

But if you notice that they become significantly more secretive about their activities, feelings, or plans, it’s a classic sign that they’re emotionally checking out. 

It doesn’t necessarily mean they’re cheating or anything darker. 

But it almost always means that there’s a portion of their life and their heart which they are locking away from you. Whereas before you were granted access to their inner world, you’re now barred entry and left behind. 

8) They don’t initiate intimacy 

Your partner no longer initiates sex or makes a move on you. 

If it’s gotten really bad then you may almost feel like you’re just a roommate or friend. 

It’s not just about sex, either. 

You notice there’s also a distinct lack of emotional intimacy, like sharing thoughts or dreams.

As psychology writer Louis Baragona notes

“Intimacy without intercourse can mean having a deep talk, holding hands, going on fun dates, being physically close to one another, and opening up about your feelings.”

9) They’re overly critical of you

None of us are perfect, but if you notice that your relationship has become a place where you have to walk on eggshells it’s definitely not a positive sign. 

There’s a noticeable increase in criticism or negative comments directed towards you, and it feels like you can’t do anything right. 

If you try to connect with your partner it’s like they don’t even recognize you or understand why you’re trying to engage with them, which is both hurtful and confusing.

“In healthy relationships, attempts to gain our partner’s attention, affection or support are met in positive or affirming ways,” observes relationship therapist Isiah McKimmie.

“When relationships become strained, these attempts are ignored or met with negative responses.”

10) They engage in stonewalling over difficult topics

As mentioned earlier, when your partner has checked out, they will often shy away from deeper topics and refuse to get into them. 

The same thing goes for most in-depth discussions over difficult topics, including their own struggles and problems:

They consistently shut down or avoid discussions by refusing to engage or listen.

When you try to bring up what’s going on in the relationship (or not going on, as it were) they react by acting like you caused the problem instead of the reality, which is that you simply acknowledged there is a problem.

“If you are naming it and there is a fight, you didn’t create the problem, you revealed the crack,” points out psychotherapist Lia Avellino.

11) They don’t discuss the future with you

The future seems like a gray zone that your partner doesn’t want to acknowledge at all. 

They avoid discussing or planning for the future, including vacations, milestones, or long-term goals.

When you bring it up, you’re met with indifference, a shrug or even a direct change of subject. 

You feel like you can’t do anything right, and are left wondering whether this relationship has any hope left. 

Is it over?

While these signs can indicate emotional detachment, it’s essential to communicate openly with your partner to understand the underlying issues. 

The problem, of course, is that when they refuse to meaningfully engage with you then this may not be a possibility. 

Try your best to be patient with them and whatever they are going through. In some situations it really is over, while in others there is just a call for patience and empathy with your partner as you welcome them back into your life at their own speed. 

Counseling or therapy can also be beneficial in addressing relationship challenges and reconnecting emotionally.

Picture of Paul Brian

Paul Brian

Paul R. Brian is a freelance journalist and writer who has reported from around the world, focusing on religion, culture and geopolitics. Follow him on www.twitter.com/paulrbrian and visit his website at www.paulrbrian.com

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