We need to talk: the linguistic clues that reveal your relationship is over

Figcaption We Need To Talk The Linguistic Clues That Reveal Your Relationship Is Over
Posted at: Author: Rain TV UK

Name: The language of breakups

Age: Timeless. Ever since Eve ate that ill-fated pomegranate, romantic relationships have been problematic. And people have to find a way of saying goodbye. But this particular ...

Hold on. Eve didn’t eat a pomegranate. It was an apple. The facts are disputed. Let’s not fall out over it. As I was saying before you interrupted me, this particular analysis of the language of breakups has just been published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, an American scientific journal.

Sounds a bit academic. Indeed, but with significant real-world implications.

Do I really want to hear this? You do. Three US psychologists based at the University of Texas at Austin have analysed more than a million posts by 6,800 Reddit users in the r/BreakUps subreddit ...

As one does. Could you PLEASE stop interrupting me!!! They have analysed posts from those involved in breakups and discovered that the language they were using changed three months before a breakup occurred. And it did not return to normal until at least six months afterwards.

Let me guess the linguistic giveaways: anger at being interrupted, use of capital letters and mock-ironic PLEASES; excessive use of exclamation marks. You think you’re so smart, don’t you? The signs are much subtler. People who are about to break up use more personal and informal language, and say “I” and “We” a lot.

How come? “These are signs that someone is carrying a heavy cognitive load,” explains Sarah Seraj, the lead author of the study. “They are thinking or working through something and becoming more self-focused.”

Any other signals? They use words such as “would”, “should”, “because” and “result” more often because they are trying to work out some process they don’t understand. They also use “very” and “really” more often, and tend to resort to negatives such as “no” and “never”.

You just used the word “because”. A slip of the tongue, I assure you.

Um, I’m not so sure. There’s a falling off in the use of “a”, “the”, “in” and “at”, indicating a breakdown in logical thinking.

Sorry, but that sounds like total crap. I suggest your use of rude words indicates your logical thinking is breaking down.

You may be right. Are people aware when their language changes that a relationship breakdown is imminent? Apparently not. “It seems that, even before people are aware that a breakup is going to happen, it starts to affect their lives,” says Seraj. Subconsciously, they know the relationship is in trouble and words they use reflect that.

I ... I mean we ... should ... Oh, what am I trying to say? I think you’re trying to tell me it’s over between us.

I really wanted it to work and never thought it would come to this. That’s life. Just don’t spend the next six months in the Reddit Break-Ups forum. Seraj says it’s terrible for your mental wellbeing.

Do sing: I Will Survive.

Don’t sing: What Becomes of the Brokenhearted?

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