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RELATIONSHIP ADVICE: Five reliable signs your boyfriend is planning to leave you

By Katie Michaels, DERF Relationship Columnist

I know you're wondering ‘What makes me the expert?' I'm not a psychologist and I don't have a library of empirical data to support my thoughts in this column. And I didn't steal these items from the book, "He's Just Not That Into You". In fact I haven't read that book but I imagine it might also share a little insight in this area we are discussing. I do have however, a non-empirical but reality based database in my gray matter populated with my own and many girlfriends' real life experiences and observations of the unusual behavioral patterns and tendencies shown by men before they leave a woman. As far as research goes, I did receive in preparation from this article over 100 emails from DERF readers who shared the behaviors they have experientially documented as warning signs. I even received a few from men who shared their insider perspective. I saw a lot of themes throughout this informal research and I hope these points I have condensed for you will serve as a guideline.

WARNING: Please do not take all of these signs as surefire indicators. Note the word ‘reliable' in the title of the column. I didn't use the word surefire for a good reason. Men are strange animals and if you show panic every time you witness any of these behaviors then he is SURE to leave you. A common mistake we make is to misinterpret every strange or insensitive act on a man's part as a prelude to a breakup. You should be looking for a pattern that includes several of the items below happening either simultaneously or in series. But most importantly trust your intuition.

SIGN #1 - WHY DON'T WE TALK ABOUT THAT LATER? Avoiding discussion of future events (even more than usual) - When a man knows he is leaving you he feels he is lying to you when discussing future plans....parties, vacations, outings, weddings, etc. Take note if you notice declining interest in this area.

SIGN #2 - LET ME DO THAT FOR YOU - Extra kindness that seems out of place - As strange as it sounds many men truly feel empathetic toward a woman with whom they are planning to break up. This type of man sometimes rationalize an act of kindness as pre-empting or helping to counter the hurt they are about to cause. They hope you will remember them more fondly because of their kindness. These kind acts can take any form but you should be on the lookout for something out of the ordinary....something planned he would normally not plan, etc. We've all heard a girlfriend say something like, "It came out of no where. Everything was going so well. He took me on that romantic trip to Chicago and then wham! He said he didn't feel the same way any longer." And there it is. The classic empathy breakup.

SIGN #3 - I DIDN'T KNOW YOU ALREADY HAD ONE OF THOSE - Decline in the quality or thoughtfulness of gifts - This is the opposite of the one above but more common among the 25 and under guys. Some men never give a thoughtful gift but if your man has consistently delivered but now suddenly has trailed off, this is a red flag. He is basically saying he would rather save his money for his next girlfriend.

SIGN #4 - SURE WHATEVER YOU WANT - Appears overly agreeable (especially about things that previously would have caused a disagreement) - Ironically, often the most agreeable time a couple experiences is a month or two before a breakup. This is because if one person knows the situation is temporary they are no longer invested enough in the relationship to care about it's problems. If you're selling the car, do you really care about that annoying little ticking sound you've been hearing?

SIGN #5 - THE BREAKUP WALLET LIST! - As unfathomable as it sounds many men have told me they have made a written list of negative attributes about someone they were planning to break up with. For men this makes sense because they tend to spend so little time thinking about relationships that it is easy for them to forget what they don't like. They literally need a reminder to help them decide if they should leave you. Now here's the funny part - Any guess where most men claim to keep this list? The answer is in their wallet! Yes, they see this as their safest hiding place especially if you spend a lot of time at their place.

Now for the bad news. What can you do about all of these warning signs? The answer is nothing. If someone wants to break up there is nothing you can do. It is impossible to talk your way out of dumped. Always remember that. Seeing the signs may help you brace yourself for the inevitable but the pain will be there. That's a rule of life I didn't make. In another column I do give some great advice on how to win a man back but that is an entirely separate topic.