You don’t need to survey five or six of your girlfriends and listen to their opinions. You don’t need the feedback you asked them to get from their boyfriends after you whined about wanting—insert air quotes—“a man’s perspective.” You don’t need to interview the mechanic putting the new fan belt on your engine or give your hairdresser something else to gossip about once you lift off of her chair. In fact, you don’t need to do anything else but let your own underworked intuition tell you what you already know but really don’t want to embrace: it’s time to leave him alone, girl. Move on. He’s dead weight, a bump in the road, a bigger waste of time than a “Keeping Up With the Kardashians” marathon.

But I can tell by the expression on your little lovelorn face that you’re still not convinced that you need to let go of this love TKO. I see you’re hanging on to the few scraps of hope he’s given you and wrapped yourself up a nice little garment of denial. (I sure know how to beat a metaphor into submission, don’t I?) We’ve all been there before, some of us more than once or twice. But I’d be remiss, friend and fellow Clutchette, to not remind you that you don’t have to settle for some dude’s second best behavior. So girl, here are three indicators, in no particular order, that should confirm—along with other instances of half-stepping, two-timing and general slacking—that it’s time to cut that dead-end guy off and stop messing with his energy-draining tail once and for everlastin’ all.

3) He ain’t even puttin’ a ring on your phone, much less your finger. Remember those marathon conversations y’all used to have through the night, giggling and sniggling and flirting your way into Verizon’s most valued customer infamy? That’s part of that beginning-of-the-relationship cuteness package and it, like his other little expressions of infatuation, fades over time. That’s to be expected. But when his phone call frequency drops from a daily to three times a week or less, there’s cause for concern that his interests are drifting elsewhere. Barring his enrollment in the witness protection program or his military deployment to Uzbekistan, there isn’t a reason why a brother can’t make a quick, 10-minute phone call to let the woman he’s diggin’ on know that she’s on his mind. So if he doesn’t do it, then maybe she isn’t.

2) He turns down the nookie. You paraded in front of him in hot pants, slathered on more oil than a bodybuilder on a beach retreat and intentionally dropped so many items requiring a slow, sensual pick up that you gave your thighs a workout, and he hasn’t so much as twitched. A typically horny dude rarely ignores the opportunity to smash—he may not know the girl, he many not have even paid her any kind of attention before but please believe if she throws it, he’ll catch it. So if your man couldn’t care less about sweating out your wash and set, or if he literally just goes through the motions while he’s doing it, it’s definitely time to hand out a pink slip. Between technological advances and a fresh set of AAA batteries, you could be just as satisfied and a lot less stressed.

1) All of a sudden, he’s got jokes. Personal ones. Your little tummy used to be the extra cushion he loved to snuggle up against and hold on to. Now he calls it a gut and suggests you may want to put those two extra drumsticks back in the skillet before the situation gets worse. Aside from the fact that nobody with enough flaws to do a 20-minute stand-up routine on should be casting stones on anybody else’s shortcomings, a man who starts taking little jabs at his woman has clearly become either 1) suicidal or 2) completely and totally uncaring about hurting her feelings. A partner is supposed to support and encourage, not beat down and belittle. When snide remarks and unconstructive criticism become part of his interaction with you, then it’s time to hit the bricks. (Now I didn’t say hit him with a brick. I didn’t say I don’t condone it, I just didn’t say it….)

Because men are creatures of habit, analyze any changes that have happened over the last few months since you’ve felt like your relationship started being different. If he has a calendar packed with activities and they increasingly don’t include you, if he starts talking in terms of “I” and not “we” like there ain’t no you in his future, if he stops hugging and kissing you when he greets you or says goodbye, he ain’t doing you any favors by staying on your payroll. Cut your losses, gather up your wisdom and thank goodness we’re just a few months away from warm weather again and new boo pickin’ season.

  • Mademoiselle

    Number one is the best part of this article. How someone speaks to you (and how their speech changes) is one of the FIRST clues I’ve found to “pending doom”. When those jokes start making you furrow your brows and wonder if he’s being cute snide or patronizing…

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