The first two months of Harshit’s relationship with Rajapati (22) when he was 18 felt like a fairy tale romance. From going on regular dates and having intense conversations to finding ways to make each other feel really special – it honestly felt like he had found his soul mate.
All this changed when he moved to another city for further studies. Conversations between him and his sweetheart began to resemble WhatsApp status updates: short and without any form of intimacy.
“Because of the distance, there was a feeling that we might not be able to continue the relationship,” Prajapati, a fashion student, told VICE. “I tried to bring up the issue with my partner to find a solution to make the relationship work.”
His partner reassured him that nothing was wrong and that everything was fine. But every time Prajapati suggested making travel plans together, planning activities, or suggested ways to keep the relationship alive, his partner — though always agreeable to the ideas — did nothing to actually act on those plans.
Gradually everything became too much for Prajapati. It definitely didn’t help that he had mostly superficial friends who weren’t looking for deep conversation. “I basically sat on my bed, watching soap operas and doing my work in the dark. It affected my self-image because I started to wonder more and more if I was going to be enough.”
Later, Prajapati’s partner would “quietly call her to end the relationship”. Quitting softly is when one or both partners put a little bit of energy into a relationship that is still floating around but actually doesn’t mean anything anymore. Anything inseparable from each other. It is also referred to as “soft dumping” or “soft quitting”. The concept is also very similar to quietly quitting your job where you only do what you pay for – no more, no less – so you don’t get burnt out.
The whole idea of quietly ending your relationship can be traced back to the viral TikTok made by comedic content creator Daniel Hentschel. “Silently ending a relationship, or ‘soft dumping,’ is when your partner chooses to do the bare minimum necessary to continue dating you without breaking up with you. They’ve completely lost interest, but they don’t want to be the one to end it. You hear from them every day, but you don’t. none of them at all.
According to psychiatrist Era Dutta, it can feel like you’re living with a ghost or an uncaring roommate if your beloved partner quietly leaves the relationship: There’s no fun in living together anymore and you’re just living (side by side) for the sake of existence. “When you are in a relationship like that and you are quietly dumped or dumped, you start to doubt yourself and ask yourself who is to blame. It stunts your personal growth and has a negative impact on your mental health in a society where couples therapy is not subscribed.”
Unlike quietly leaving your job, the reasons for someone in a romantic relationship to do so are not immediately obvious. It’s also important to note that it’s very different from ghosting, where someone stops communicating and just disappears from one day to the next. Quietly ending a relationship is like “leaving without actually walking out the door.”
“If you want a relationship to work, there has to be acceptance and growth,” says Nahid Dev, psychotherapist and psychologist. “Those early weeks or months of a relationship are filled with doses of dopamine every time you see or touch each other until they hit a plateau. When that happens, you can feel bored or disconnected, and may even consciously or unconsciously choose to quietly end the relationship — without understanding why.” “.
Dave adds that in the digital world where video calls and chats dominate and meeting physically isn’t a requirement for communication, it’s hard to notice when your partner is putting the least effort into the relationship.
Somaya, a PhD student who does not want to appear in this article under her real name because she fears her family will find out about her affair, has quietly dumped her partner because they have different career aspirations and because they are slowly falling apart. And less enthusiasm for the relationship.
“My love for my partner has never waned; it’s just stagnant,” she says. “I began to adjust my ambitions, convinced that at some point I had to stay with him. But although he always supported me, I still felt suffocated by his fears of the fact that I had not been with him as often and that he was less educated than I was.” I always manipulate him.”
To make matters more complicated, Somya’s mental health and self-confidence plummet when she finds herself trapped in her hometown Raipur city in lockdown during the pandemic. She stopped putting effort into her relationship and instead started focusing more on herself. However, she wasn’t brave enough to tell her partner that she wasn’t as excited about their time together as she once was.
“The quiet end of the relationship started unintentionally, but once I started feeling and behaving better, I paid less attention to the relationship,” Somaya says. “I didn’t want him to end because of me, so I created some space hoping he would get tired of me and leave. But it’s been a six-year relationship now and we’re both used to being in that relationship. The fear of not being able to find a good, understanding partner means that we’re both Letting this relationship drag on for so long that we ended it forever.”
According to relationship therapist Deepak Kashyap, it is important to note that, at its core, quietly quitting a relationship has more to do with dissatisfaction with your relationship and thus no longer feeling attached and less with abuse or abuse within the relationship.
“In the Indian context, it can be a lack of financial independence that keeps people together,” he says, adding that this is especially true of women. “Do you think our mothers and aunts would still be with their husbands if they were financially independent? We often think our partner is the best we can get and do our best to keep the relationship healthy.”
Kashyap also points out that the reasons for ending a relationship softly are not always well thought out and that thanks to, say, pop culture, people can also be swayed by an often unrealistic ideal of what constitutes a healthy relationship.
“Our lives and relationships don’t always have to be super exciting every day. So wanting to see a return on your investment in a relationship every single day isn’t healthy,” he explains. “While we as people love doing cost-benefit analysis, we also have to recognize that our partners are not products.”
He adds that most people don’t have “hot sex” every day long after they’ve been together for three or four years, and that should be normal. Although if you know the reasons why your relationship isn’t working out and you still don’t do anything about it, then this is really your problem.
No matter which side of the relationship you’re on, Dave advises not to point the finger at any guilty party. “Instead, you can tell your partner that this is happening to you and not just you, because there is no checklist for a perfect relationship,” she says. “Write down all of your expectations against reality, categorize your thoughts into feelings and facts, and think about what doesn’t work. Do you have evidence and examples that support your ideas or are you imagining things?”
She added that our brain can deal more easily with a dying loved one because death provides closure. We have a hard time breaking up or being stressed out by someone because the hope that you can still have a good conversation one day and give it another chance is always very much alive.
This article originally appeared on VICE Asia.
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