10 Habits That Predict The End Of A Relationship

Everyone’s been blindsided by a breakup at least once in their life. But it will reassure you to know that in recent decades, researchers and relationship experts have accumulated and examined hoards of data to pinpoint certain behaviors and markers that predict the end of a relationship. Here are a few.

  1. You never argue. While arguing is often viewed as a bad sign, it is an integral part of healthy communication. Arguing is how we express anger, frustration, and vulnerability. If you never argue with your partner, it isn’t because neither of you experiences negative emotions, it’s because one or both of you is doing everything they can to avoid conflict. If you don’t feel capable of expressing your feelings openly, your relationship cannot be successful.
  2. You spent a lot of money on your engagement ring or wedding. A 2014 study showed that couples who spent more than $2,000 on an engagement ring were more likely to split up than couples who spent less than that. Similarly, couples who spent $20,000 or more on their wedding had a higher rate of divorce than couples who spent between $5,000 and $10,000. The study found that couples who chose to spend more on their wedding were more likely to start their marriage with debt-related stress, a possible cause for relationship breakdown.
  3. You have an uneven split in household tasks. Unsurprisingly, couples who have an unequal split in housework have a high risk of breaking up. A 2017 study of heterosexual couples in Sweden confirmed that women who reported doing the majority of household tasks were less satisfied with their relationships and more likely to end them. Men also tended to under-report their partners’ contributions, a factor which was also associated with higher rates of relationship dissolution.
  4. You exhibit “the four horsemen of the apocalypse.” Dr. John Gottman is something of a legend when it comes to divorce prediction. According to Gottman, criticism, contempt, defensiveness, and stonewalling (which he dubs “the four horsemen of the apocalypse” in reference to the Old Testament) are the most accurate predictors of the end of a relationship. When all four are present, you can be fairly certain that a breakup is on the horizon.
  5. Your goals are different. It’s difficult to continue a relationship when you and your partner want different things in life. This may be difficult to recognize as the beginning of the end because it’s possible for you to still be in love and deeply committed to each other while having conflicting objectives. But your paths will grow apart and a breakup is inevitable.
  6. Your genetics. The romantic in you may die a little inside to learn that DNA, not destiny, may dictate whether or not you stay with your partner. It has long been accepted that children of divorced parents are more likely to divorce than children with parents who have no history of divorce. Originally, it was thought that this was due to the relationship model that children grow up with. However, a study conducted by Virginia Commonwealth University found that adopted children are more likely to follow the relationship patterns of their biological parents than their adoptive parents. This suggests that the phenomenon is due more to nature (genetics) than nurture.
  7. The language you use. How you talk says a lot about your relationship, even when you’re not consciously addressing it. An analysis of Reddit comments found that people’s language shifted up to three months before a breakup, regardless of whether they were the person who initiated the split or the one being dumped. The study found that users who started using the words “I” and “we” more frequently were more likely to go through a breakup in the following months. It also found that an increase in “cognitive processing words” which are associated with depression, was also associated with an impending breakup.
  8. You have different feelings about scary movies. This may seem implausible, but according to data from a popular dating website, couples who either love horror movies or hate them are 75% more likely to have successful, long-term relationships than couples with one partner who likes horror films and the other doesn’t. While it’s difficult to draw any conclusions from this finding, it’s a quick way to judge compatibility on a first date.
  9. Your heart rate exceeds 100 beats per minute during conflict. According to the aforementioned Dr. Gottman, when one partner becomes overwhelmed with emotion during arguments with their partner, the couple is likely to split. An elevated heart rate indicates that the person is being flooded with adrenaline, with causes physical and emotional responses such as stress, aggression, and defensiveness. You will be incapable of hearing what they have to say, and consequently will not be able to have a constructive argument. Destructive arguing is a sign that a couple will not last.
  10. You’re determined to grit your teeth and make it work. One psychological phenomenon that crosses over from the financial sector to relationships is the concept of “sunk costs.” When you invest time and cost into something, you are more inclined to stick with it, even as it loses its value. The same is true of relationships: a 2016 study found that the more money, effort, and time you put into a relationship, the more likely you will be to stick with it for the short term until it becomes unbearable.
Rose Nolan is a writer and editor from Austin, TX who focuses on all things female and fabulous. You can find her geeking out about the latest film releases or stunning crowds with her endless capacity for celebrity trivia. If you can’t find her, she’s probably eating tacos.