'The flip' is the relationship phenomenon that ends in a breakup. Only men are aware of it.

In 2021, I went on a date with a guy that I think about nearly every single day. I don't think about him exactly – I think about what he told me about his last breakup.

I asked him how it ended and he said, "The same way all relationships end, one person likes the other person more throughout the relationship and then randomly the roles switch and the relationship can't survive the role-reversal so it ends."

I had never heard someone describe a breakup in such a detached yet analytical way.

Watch: Horoscopes & Breakups. Post continues below. 

Video via Mamamia.

British journalist and author, Dolly Alderton, calls this exact breakup phenomenon 'the flip' in her latest novel Good Material. The male protagonist talks about how his relationship ended because one person was more keen than the other. 

What this does is make the person who's less keen act as the "manager" of the relationship. They're the person who sets the pace of the relationship. When to move in together, when to go on couples trips and when to get married, for example. The "keen bean" is just happy to be there. 


He then says that the roles flipped, making the other person the manager of the relationship which didn't work out... ultimately leading to its downfall.

Relationship counsellor, Susan De Campo, tells Mamamia that the flip is a dynamic change within the relationship and has been around for a very long time. She explains it's clear in the beginning of relationships when people are more aware of the level of attraction. They might say things to their friends like, "I think he likes me a bit more than I like him" or "I don't think she's feeling it as much as I am."

Since learning about the flip, every woman who I've talked about it with has been shocked. None of them ever considered it being a reason for their breakups. A few of them even said after thinking about it, they believe it was the reason their last relationship had ended.

When I talked with men about the flip, I was met with, "Oh yeah that's definitely happened with me before." One of them even said, "Isn’t that how all relationships end?"... (sound familiar?).

Not only did I notice it was mainly men who knew about the flip, but similar to that first date I had, they would all describe their breakups in the same detached way.

They use phrases like "it didn't work out", "the relationship fizzled" or "it was set up to fail." They would describe their breakups like they were a stranger watching the relationship from afar.


This differed from how I talked about breakups with my friends. We usually use phrases like, "I wasn’t feeling it", "he pulled away" or "she told me she didn't see this going anywhere".

It made me think about how women view breakups on a more insular level where the demise of the relationship is connected to the people involved, versus men who view the breakup as a physical thing that stopped working.

De Campo says: "For men, their needs on the face of it are less complex. It's a really broad generalisation, but the reason generalisations exist is that there's some validity to them. Whereas women, again, generally speaking, need to feel like there is a connection there."

Listen to the author explain how friendship breakups are worse than romantic ones. Post continues below.

So how do we avoid the flip? Well, we can't. We all flip. There are some days where we like our partner a bit more than others. Healthy relationships have ongoing mini flips which are actually good and needed. Sometimes one person will be the manager who guides the progress of the relationship and then the other person takes the reins for a while.

The important thing is (and say it with me…) communication. I honestly think that communication has been the answer to all successful relationships since the beginning of time.

The thing to watch out for is when a relationship hasn't flipped in a long time. If only one person is deciding the pace of things, then I'm sorry to say this but you're not in a relationship, you're in a two-person cult.


De Campo notes: "I think we need to articulate the behavioural changes that we see… Instead of 'I'm just not getting the same feeling, it just feels different.' Say how it feels different. For example, 'When I came home from work, you, every night last week, were really interested to hear what happened at work. And this week, you haven't asked me anything. It's like you couldn't care less about my work'."

I know every time we discover a new relationship phenomena we have to learn; it feels like a stab in our (already bruised) heart. It's harder for women to be vocal about the flip within their relationship as we have historically been labelled as crazy and unhinged when we attempt to voice our concerns over something that just doesn't sit right with us.

However, I believe that making the other person aware of their actions helps acknowledge the change in the relationship dynamic which can ultimately lead to working on it together.

And if they call you "crazy", show them this article.

Have you experienced 'the flip'? Tell us in the comments section below.

If you want more culture opinions from Emily Vernem, you can follow her on Instagram @emilyvernem.

Feature Image: Canva.

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