Chris Evans and the pain of your partner ‘quiet quitting’ your relationship

·4-min read
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Things between Laura* and her boyfriend has been “off” for the last few months. He hasn’t been unfaithful, nor have they gotten into any major arguments.

“It’s just like he’s not really ‘here’,” she says, listing behaviours like not planning any dates, never texting first and a general sense of apathy towards the relationship. “I almost wish we were arguing as it would show that he still cares.”

Laura’s not alone – in fact, the internet has recently named this unfortunate situation “quiet dumping” or “quiet quitting the relationship”.

The term comes after the viral rebrand of doing the bare minimum at your job as “quiet quitting” last year, with many applying the ubiquitous phrase to other aspects of our lives. The idea of “quiet quitting” your relationship was first attributed to TikTok comedy creator Daniel Hentschel, who said in a video that’s now been viewed 2.8 million times: “Quiet quitting in a relationship, or ‘quiet dumping,’ is when your partner chooses only to do the bare minimum required to date you without you breaking up with them… they’ve totally lost interest, but they don’t want to be the one to break it off. They are showing up every day for you, but they’re not really showing up.”

The hashtag “quiet dumping” now has over 28 million views on TikTok, with the majority of videos detailing people’s experiences with it, giving advice on what to do if you find yourself being quietly dumped and arguing that it’s worse than being ghosted (which is where someone abruptly stops messaging you in the early stages of dating). However it’s not just a social media phenomenon: “I feel I’ve experienced something much worse. I think I’d prefer being ghosted because you can make up any story you want. I’ve had the slow decline in text responses, and you just know the person is pushing you aside casually,” Marvel actor Chris Evans recently told People magazine in an interview promoting his upcoming film Ghosted.

“Leaving a relationship isn’t such an easy decision, and no one is ever really 100% sure of their decisions. Maybe someone feels mostly sure that this relationship is done, but there is always that bit of doubt,” says Sabrina Bendory, an author, entrepreneur, and relationship coach, who also lists common signs like “a lack of enthusiasm for the relationship”, that “you’re always being bumped for something more important” and a “distance that hangs in the air” as common signs that your partner is quiet quitting the relationship.

Chris Evans’ grand romantic gesture goes awry in new trailer for Ghosted (AP)
Chris Evans’ grand romantic gesture goes awry in new trailer for Ghosted (AP)

“Maybe they think if they stick it out for a while longer things might magically be repaired. Maybe they don’t want to hurt the other person and are giving it more time for their partner to do the dumping. Maybe they’re scared of being alone so while they’re not happy in the relationship… they fear they will be even more miserable out of it.” However Bendory is quick to note that it can be extremely hurtful for the person that’s being quietly dumped, and encourages those facing that situation to do a “self check” – “Look at yourself and how you’re showing up in the relationship… you are the only person that you have 100% control over so you have to start there.”

21-year-old Nikki* never meant to quiet quit her relationship, but in hindsight that’s probably why her three year relationship ended. “The first two years were incredible, but in the last year my focus definitely shifted to university and what I wanted to do after I graduated. My partner at the time used to badger me about making more effort, and I should have been more honest that my heart was no longer in it. Perhaps part of me was being selfish because I didn’t want to change too much of my life in one go.” In the end, her boyfriend broke things off with her, citing that he had “tried to fix things” but that “Nikki seemingly had no interest in doing so.”

“I regret how things end,” she continues, “but I’ve since reached out and apologised and we are on good terms now.”

“Some people are scared to be alone and would rather stay in an unfurling relationship instead of leaving,” agrees Jacob Lucas, the author of the dating guide book ‘Her Dating Coach’, on why people choose to quiet dump their partners. “Or if people have been together a long time then they are scared of not having their routine in life.”

Lucas advice is to ask them why they are checking out of the relationship and “see if you can communicate with each other effectively to overcome any problems.” You can also start spending time with each other to try to rekindle the relationship, but stresses that if you partner clearly does not want to make an effort to get the relationship back on track? “Leave.”

So there you have it, yet another niche dating term to add to the 2023 romance hellscape. Whether it’s worse than other behaviours such as “ghosting”, “breadcrumbing” or, more recently, “zombieing”, is subjective, we could all do with being more honest and open about how we really feel.

*Names have been changed.