Getting dumped can be like stubbing your toe: It’s usually a surprise, it immediately hurts like hell, and you feel incredibly stupid for putting yourself in the position to get hurt. But what if you knew you were about to be dumped—and could therefore (maybe) circumvent some of the pain? Can you tell if a guy is about to break up with you?
Possibly—if you look out for these five signs that you may be about to lose your current relationship (but are about to develop a much more intimate and meaningful relationship with your pizza-delivery guy).
#1: He’s 15
Okay, I don’t mean actually 15. But if you’re a capable adult woman and your boyfriend is emotionally 15, that’s just as bad. That doesn’t mean that he still plays video games or loves Bagel Bites or can’t handle a job more advanced than a paper route.
But if he’s nearing 30 and still has a Bagel Bite breakfast on his way to an unsatisfying job, the odds are slim that he has the emotional depth to handle a long-term relationship.
If you apply any pressure, he may just snap. And you may be better off if you’re sick of playing second fiddle and third wheel to a PS4.
#2: He Suddenly Starts Hanging Out with “Those” Friends
You know the ones. His buddy “Robbie” or “Brad,” the one with the string of one-night stands and the “Free Lap Dance!” punch card in his chain wallet. The same friends your boyfriend started hanging out with less and less after you two made things official.
If your boyfriend is actively seeking out those single friends, he is testing the waters. He wants Robbie to tell him how awesome it is to be single. Your boyfriend will either agree and decide to dump you or take a close look at Robbie’s life and realize how lucky he is to have you.
The fate of your relationship is in Robbie’s hands now, which is pretty terrifying.
#3: He Just Deleted His Social-Media Presence
This is a red-alert sign. If he’s dumped all his accounts, he may claim it’s just because he’s applying for a job and needs to hide 1,000 images of him doing beer bongs in frathouse basements. But it may be because he’s ready to start creepin’ on other girls.
It’s a genius move: You meet someone in a bar, and your first inclination is to Google them. If he meets a lady who looks him up on Instagram, she’ll probably find a mixture of gym selfies, shots of just terrible-looking food, a few bad sunsets, and you.
Your soon-to-be-ex does not want pictures of you clouding up his chances of meeting a new girl. Your boyfriend is pre-covering his tracks, and you may need to get ready for a breakup.
#4: He Changes His Routine
Masculinity is under constant attack, according to weirdoes on the internet. If your guy is suddenly dropping weight, using Rogaine, or learning a new language, that may be a sign of him looking to make an even bigger change. A lady change.
Does that mean every guy who signs up for a cooking class is looking to dump his girlfriend? Absolutely not. But it may be an indicator of some sort of “dude-crisis,” a highly scientific term for when a guy gets ennui about his place in the world and somehow thinks a new Porsche is the answer.
Those kinds of periods in a man’s life can blind him to the fact that his relationship is just about the most stable thing he has going for him. It can lead to a lot of misguided breakups that leave you confused and him completely adrift.
These are often just temporary breakups, but that doesn’t make them any less painful or scarring.
#5: You Think You Might Get Dumped
“Women’s intuition” sounds like a Victorian euphemism for an orgasm, but it’s also a real thing. If you think you are about to get dumped, there’s a pretty good chance you’re going to be.
It may seem like a sitcom trope, but men really aren’t that good at hiding their intentions. If a guy seems distant or disengaged and he isn’t currently watching football, he may be having an existential crisis about his life and your place in it.
Sometimes, relationships just aren’t meant to be, and it’s no one’s fault in particular. And new experiences are wonderful, plenty of fish in the sea, you can work on you, all that cat poster stuff.
To return to the stubbed toe metaphor, this is like when your toenail falls off, gently whispers “You’re free now,” then flies away to let a new nail grow in its place. Unpleasant for sure, but ultimately the best thing for you.