‘Quiet quitting’ is a new buzzword that’s recently been on everyone’s tongues and thoughts.
If you’re unaware of the internet’s new favorite term, it basically means that people will stop doing work and investing effort into people, places, and things that don’t invest those things back. While people are most often quiet quitting in situations revolving around their jobs, the mental health buzzword has exploded in popularity so much, people are quiet quitting every aspect of their lives.
While it’s perfectly fine not to put effort into situations you’re not getting anything out of, especially when continuing would be detrimental to your mental health, it’s becoming ‘popular’ to quiet quit relationships as well.
If you’re not feeling appreciated, respected, or loved in your relationship and you’re debating quietly quitting, read this.
What Is Quiet Quitting?
The internet phenomenon of quiet quitting skyrocketed in popularity during this past year. Platforms like TikTok have made mental health in the office and through working from home situations one of the biggest priorities. And quiet quitting and all it brings to the table is needed. Let’s be honest; people work for numerous places and jobs that don’t care about them in return. This year, many workers got fed up with this mentality and started applying quiet quitting to their routines.
Don’t worry; this doesn’t mean they walked out on their jobs or formed a union. It’s just that they only began to do the work they were paid for. No more overtime hours, secret assignments they weren’t credited for, or anything that wasn’t in their initial job description and that they didn’t receive benefits from.
But as the term ‘quiet quitting’ rose in popularity, so did the places and situations where people would use it.
Recently, people have started quiet quitting their relationships. Some relationship experts have shown concern that the term can be misinterpreted and lead to a crash in emotional health.
And while we do encourage you to have boundaries and healthy communication and reception in your relationship, we don’t encourage you to quiet quit it.
Why People Shouldn’t Quiet Quit Their Relationships
It goes without saying that quiet quitting and leaving a toxic and potentially harmful situation are very different things. Quiet quitting establishes boundaries, usually in the professional sense, but the term doesn’t imply that the situation is toxic. If you’re in an abusive relationship, please get out of it and seek professional help. This term doesn’t apply to that situation.
The term quiet quitting was created for the office. This means that it was coined for a specific relationship: the employer to the employee. In that situation, it’s understood that the employee is under the employer; if the employer is taking advantage of their charge, the employee can speak out. This system has been the backbone of the American workforce for years now, and while it’s not perfect, it’s improving every day with concepts like quiet quitting.
But when you’re in a relationship, you’re not in a situation that’s equal or comparable to an employer-employee one.
First and foremost, the two people in a relationship should be on equal terms. While each relationship is different, for the most part, you and your partner are two equals who come together to form a relationship. It can get toxic, dicey, and even dangerous when one of you starts to believe that they are better than the other and begin treating the relationship like it’s below them.
Another factor that differentiates a romantic relationship from a corporate one is that there are no contracts in romantic relationships. When you sign on to work for a company, you promise to give them your work in exchange for their payment. You don’t have that in a romantic relationship. It’s not a tit-for-tat agreement. The whole point of a healthy relationship is that you both want to love each other equally and as much as possible. Once that love becomes expected or assumed, it takes away the magic and cheapens the relationship.
What It Looks Like to Quiet Quit Your Relationship
Because quiet quitting is a term most often used about a work situation, not many people know what it actually looks like to quiet quit a relationship. While each relationship is different, once one person begins to quietly leave a relationship, it can only go downhill from there.
The chief dating expert at Match, Rachel DeAlto, discusses the phenomenon of quiet quitting with Well + Good. She says, “Quiet quitting a relationship typically looks like acting complacent or doing something like the ‘slow fade.’ On one hand, people often find it easy to stay in a relationship where they just don’t try anymore, or they know they’re settling because they don’t want to risk being alone,” she explains. “On the other hand, there are people who just don’t want to initiate a breakup conversation, so they choose to invest less, and leave it to their partner to say, ‘This isn’t working.’”
While there are many reasons someone might want to quiet quit their relationship, doing so will always end in harm to the relationship as a whole and hurt for the other person in it. Quiet quitting often seems like the easy way out when it comes to interpersonal relationships, and it looks like an excuse to not have a challenging but necessary conversion.
Think of it this way, in a work-based situation, quiet quitting is solely doing the work you’re paid for. No one’s feelings get hurt when you employ this tactic in your professional life. But in a romantic relationship, quiet quitting basically means that you’re mentally checking out and no longer putting in the effort required to keep the spark alive.
While, ideally, every relationship should look like each person is giving 100% to keep it healthy and loving, that isn’t always the case.
On the other hand, if your partner still wants to fight for the relationship, you’re leaving them to fend for it themselves. Suddenly, you’re isolating them and not allowing them the courtesy of closure or understanding. You’re throwing them and your relationship out to sea without a life preserver.
DeAlto says that in both situations, “The relationship is moving toward an end, and it’s just a matter of how long it’ll take to get there.”
Once one person decided to quiet quit their relationship, the relationship is almost always over. There are some instances where the person can come back and recommit, but if one person has given up hope and stopped trying to maintain a relationship, they’ve all but signed a death sentence.
Elizabeth Earnshaw, LMFT, refers to what Gottman Method Therapy calls the ‘Distance and isolation cascade.’ She says, “For example, if one partner is frequently the person that tries to engage in an emotional conversation or initiate physical intimacy, and they do not believe their partner does the same, after a while, they will likely just stop attempting.”
This emotional and physical distance can happen slowly and even be brought on unconsciously. But in either case, it will lead to the eventual downfall of the relationship.
What Can Propel People to Quiet Quit Their Relationship?
There are many reasons someone might want to or start thinking about quiet quitting their relationships. While some were mentioned above: a person wishing to avoid a tough discussion and preserve their partner’s feelings, others might not be as obvious.
Quiet quitting might not be a conscious choice for some people. Effort and work don’t come easy, especially in long-term relationships. It can be hard to be there for your person, no matter how much you love them, and once the honeymoon phase is over and the relationship kicks into high gear, many people begin to phase out in their efforts.
Psychotherapist and relationship expert Christie Kederian, EdD, LMFT, shares another reason why a person might want to quiet quit their relationship. “Sometimes, people get complacent because they feel like they’ve invested so much time and energy into this relationship that they don’t have the desire or drive to find something better.” She says, “They get comfortable with being uncomfortable, but eventually, this tends to make them resentful or passive-aggressive in their behavior.”
While this isn’t the healthiest way to exit a relationship at all, it is a way that many people choose, whether that’s because they never learned how to healthily communicate with the people they love, or they have anxious attachment styles.
Another huge reason why people might think about quiet quitting their relationships is when they don’t feel equally appreciated. We’ve all heard that you ought to put 100% effort into loving your partner daily. And while that sounds magical and lovely, it can be challenging.
If you’ve been in a relationship for a long time, you’ll know that when the person you love more than anyone else in the world can also be the person who hurts you more than anyone else.
While you don’t sign a contract, there is an unspoken agreement when you enter into a relationship that you’ll be there for the person on their worst days, which can be draining. And, most likely, the two of you won’t have an equal amount of bad days. So that means that one of you is often ‘stuck’ taking care of the other, making them the person who shows more effort in the relationship.
Likewise, people often feel underappreciated in their relationships, like their efforts go unnoticed. The sad truth about long-term relationships is that they often sink into a schedule and a rhythm. Your partner might start to expect the things you do for them rather than thank you and appreciate all of your efforts.
Whatever the reason that might cause you to think about quiet quitting, your feelings are valid. We implore you to consider what quiet quitting will do to your relationship.
Things to Think About before You Quietly Quit Your Relationship
If you’ve found yourself relating to any of the above reasons about why someone might want to quiet quit their relationship, don’t worry, your relationship isn’t over, and you’re not a bad person for thinking any of those thoughts.
But, if you’d like to try and save your relationship before you consciously or unconsciously quit it, we’d first encourage you to figure out why you want to leave it.
Once you’ve established what is causing these feelings, you can assess whether it’s something that could change or will stay the same. Can your relationship continue to grow after this hiccup, or is it something that will lead to its demise? Also, if you have a slightly uncomfortable conversation with your partner about how you’re feeling and how their actions (or lack thereof) affect you, can the relationship continue to grow after?
No matter what happens, it’s healthy and wise to approach these feelings with open and honest communication and a willing spirit to grow. Because if you never learn how to gracefully leave a relationship, you’ll lose an opportunity to grow your emotional intelligence in the long run.
And yes, you might go through all these steps, have the difficult conversations, and still want to get out of your relationship, and that’s okay. But we recommend you do it healthily and respectfully, rather than quiet quitting it.