Ever heard of quiet quitting? 5 signs your partner might be planning on calling things off

Think no plans for 2023 and refusal to communicate

A man and woman kissing as she worries about quiet quitting relationships
(Image credit: Getty Images)

By now, you've likely seen the phrase quiet quitting doing the rounds on social media. Search for "what is quiet quitting" is at breakout on Google at current and there are nearly 347 million views on the #quietquitting hashtag on Tiktok.

Not sure what it means? The phrase refers to the growing trend of people attempting to quit their jobs or relationships in a stealth-like silence - that is, subtly bow out rather than maturely communicating their true emotions.

Keen to learn how to spot signs that a partner is doing it? You're in the right place. We've picked the brains of Pippa Murphy, sex and relationship expert at condoms.uk. Below, she shares how to spot the red flags, plus deal with the situation, if it is happening to you. 

Don't miss our guides to the best dating sites, best sex apps, and what to do when your ex texts you, while you're here. 

What is quiet quitting?

According to Murphy, quiet quitting in a relationship describes when one person stops trying or gives up on the relationship without telling the other person about their feelings or needs. 

"The other person may not even know that they're being neglected until it's too late - that is, after the damage has been done and things are irreparable," she explains. 

The worst part is, the expert reckons that quiet quitters know that they're doing their partner harm. 

So why don't they communicate more maturely and explain how they're really feeling? "They don't want to face their own emotions or deal with confrontation, so they stay silent instead of communicating with their partner honestly," the expert goes on.

Ready to learn how to spot the signs? Keep scrolling. 

5 signs your partner is quiet quitting your relationship

1. They've stopped making time for you

If you're in a relationship, you're likely used to spending a fair bit of time together - you and your partner likely make an effort to spend quality time together.

Have you noticed that all of a sudden, your usual date nights have come to a stop? Are your messages being ignored or are your calls left unanswered? 

This could be a red flag. Murphy shares that if the time you spend together or the amount of attention they are giving you has drastically dropped, it could be a tell-tale sign they're preparing to quiet quit the relationship. 

2. They won’t commit to any plans in 2023

Second red flag? Fear of commitment. 

“If your partner refuses to talk about their future together, it could be because they want out of the relationship but don't want to hurt your feelings by telling you directly,” shares the expert. 

You can test the water for this red flag by bringing up plans for next year. Are there any holidays that they're keen to take or day trips they would like to plan? “If they show no interest, it could be another warning sign," she continues. 

3. They stop talking about happy memories from the past

The end of the year is usually a time to reflect on all the best moments of the year. 

That said, if you've noticed that your partner has stopped doing this altogether, it might be to do with how they're feeling about the relationship. "If they've stopped talking about the happy memories that you shared, it could be because they don't want to feel guilty about wanting out of the relationship," the expert warns. "Instead, they might be trying to forget about their relationship with you." 

4. They stop sharing their feelings with you

Communicating is a big part of any relationship, and sharing how you feel should come naturally, shares the pro.

So, naturally, another red flag is if communicating with your partner starts to feel less natural. "Another common sign of quiet quitting is when a partner stops sharing their feelings with you or avoids speaking about what’s going on in their lives," Murphy explains.

5. They don't listen when you talk about your problems

Last but by no means least, if a partner starts to disengage when you open up about your own feelings, it may be an indicator that they're withdrawing from your emotionally. 

For example, if your partner doesn't listen to you when you talk about work or other problems, it could be because they don't care about what's going on in your life. "They might be distracted by their worries and concerns — which may include ending the relationship," Murphy concludes.

It's worth flagging here - every relationship is different, and a lot of the signs of quiet quitting are also indicators that someone is struggling with their own mental health.

Perhaps your partner isn't considering breaking up with you at all, but struggling with the symptoms of anxiety or symptoms of depression for the first time and working through how to communicate these emotions with you.

Be patient with your partner and know that they will open up to you if the relationship is meant to go the distance. Christmas can be a difficult time of year for many and making sure they know you're there if they do want to chat, is important. 

Quiet quitting relationships: A couple after an argument

(Image credit: Getty Images)

How to deal with quiet quitting: 6 expert tips

Quiet quitting sounds scary, but as with any relationship hurdle, it's important to stay calm and try and communicate with your partner as best as possible.

Also keep in mind that there are ways to work through relationship issues, like quiet quitting, as Murphy has outlined below. 

1. Start by working out your true feelings

First things first, it's to important to look inwards and assess how you're feeling in the relationship. If your needs aren't being met and your partner isn't treating you with the respect you deserve, it's likely a sign that it won't work out.

Know this: if someone is willing to leave you hanging without sharing their feelings, it is likely a sign this person isn't right for you anyway. 

2. Don’t wait for your partner to bring it up

Secondly, Murphy advises trying to take control of the situation, rather than waiting for your other half to deal with the situation. 

“Instead of waiting around until they mention it first, try bringing it up yourself," she advises. "This can be especially helpful if you're feeling frustrated or hurt by their silence on the matter."

Remember - communication is key. 

3. Find a time to talk that’s not during a fight

It's important when you do bring it up that you communicate calmly in order to work through the problem, the relationship expert advises.

"If you want to bring it up, make sure to do it at a time where neither parties are angry or upset," she shares. Her advice? Stay calm, cool, and collected. "Be open to the possibility that something else is going on, without jumping to the conclusion that they are getting ready to silently break up with you." 

4. Be open, honest, and remember to listen, too

This one's important. "The first step with any relationship problem is to understand what's happening and why it's happening," Murphy goes on.

If your partner is quiet quitting, there may be other issues at play here. Like? The list is endless, but at this time of year, financial stress or family problems can cause tension. Listen to what they have to say and ask the appropriate questions before jumping to any conclusions.  

5. If they do want to break up, remember: it's not you, it's them

A cliche, sure, but for good reason. 

"Your partner may be feeling stressed or overwhelmed, and bringing up the idea of breaking up might feel like a relief to them," explains the expert. Naturally, it's hard to accept that your partner no longer wants to be with you and certainly a blow to the ego - you're only human, after all, and it's bound to be hard.

That said, she advises trying not to take it personally, if possible. "Instead, try listening carefully as they explain how their feelings have changed over time."

Our guides to break up advice and the common stages of grief might come in handy.

6. Don’t give up on love

Finally, you've likely heard this before, but it's important not to give up on yourself or the chance of finding love again because the relationship has ended. As one door closes, another opens, and you know what they say - there are plenty more fish in the sea (trust us on that one).

In the meantime - our expert tips on getting over an ex might come in handy. 

Dionne Brighton

Dionne Brighton is a writer at Marie Claire UK, specialising in all things shopping, beauty and fashion. Born and raised in North London, she studied Literature at the University of East Anglia before taking the leap into journalism. These days, you can find her testing out the latest TikTok beauty trends or finding out what the next full Moon means.