Woman on her phone looking confused by a text message she received

5 Breakup Phrases: Words that Signal the End

by Eharmony Editorial Team - June 28, 2008

These 5 little sentences can spell big trouble for your relationship.

If you’ve ever been blindsided by a breakup, it’s possible that you weren’t picking up the subtle and not-so-subtle clues that signaled the end. Some people are blessed with laser-sharp perception and can pick up on tiny nuances, while others need to have everything spelled out for them.

Chances are, you fall somewhere in between. You shouldn’t overanalyze every little thing your partner does and says, but when you feel that your relationship is in trouble, it’s time to pay attention.

1) “I Think We Need Space.”

Probably number one after “It’s not you, it’s me,” this phrase should not be ignored. Not necessarily the definitive end, space could mean temporarily lightening up but usually implies both physical and emotional separation. Time or distance can help clarify a specific situation – or force your dismissing darling out of mind. Either way, if your partner introduces the subject of separation, they obviously aren’t happy.

2) “I’ll Call You Later.”

Tone is everything with this statement. Accompanied by an exasperated sigh, later can mean “leave me alone.” The word later is pretty vague, which may lead you to reel from the possible meanings. Did they mean later today or later next week? When you’ve gone from seeing each other every day to a sudden cool off, your relationship is sinking. Maybe you have been too needy or your mate is busy and can’t communicate with you right now. Whatever the reason, don’t press it. They obviously don’t want to talk about it now, and forcing them to discuss the sudden chill may force them away for good.

3) “So-and-So Doesn’t Do That!”

If your sweetheart is comparing you to someone else or another relationship, it’s a bad sign. Whether it’s her first love or his doting mother who can do no wrong, comparisons undermine and belittle. It’s possible your partner is sabotaging your chances at a fresh start or is not quite over their previous paramour. This type of accusatory appraisal indicates that your mate believes your relationship doesn’t measure up. Don’t try to defend your potential, but do discuss your partner’s lingering loyalties.


4) “You’re a %*&^$#!!”

Throwing insults and name-calling are some of the biggest signs of disrespect in a relationship. When you’ve reached the point that you are trying to hurt your beloved’s feelings and get under their skin, your relationship is rotting. There is no justification, rationalization, or excuse for treating your partner this way. Of course, in heated situations, overreacting happens. However, there’s a difference between owning up to a slipup and blaming it on the other person.

5) Nothing

When you’ve stopped communicating altogether, it’s over and probably has been for some time. Regroup, cut your losses, and move on. You aren’t doing yourself or anyone else a service by clinging to a rebuffed relationship.