How do you know when a once sparkling relationship has reached its natural end? I suspect that is a question we have all faced in our lives at one point or another.
May be one party has just noticeably lost interest. Perhaps they are saying the right things but you just know there isn't the commitment behind their actions. May be they have stopped making the effort they once did; those little things that make all the difference.
If so, then the above could serve as an eerie description of Stephane Sessegnon in the opening two games of the season.
It is quite difficult to know what to make of the whole Sunderland Sessegnon situation at the moment. Rumours are abound that he is attracting interest from Qatar and he is believed to be receptive to a lucrative offer. Meanwhile, Paolo Di Canio is doing his best to distance himself from the story whilst simultaneously putting pressure on the club to make "one more sacrifice" to strengthen his squad.
In the era of restrictions on increases to the wage bill and an understandable demand for greater value for his money from Ellis Short, it isn't difficult to see why Sessegnon may just be that sacrifice.
Personally, I find myself torn on the whole issue. I suspect I am not alone. One the one hand, Sessegnon is one of the most naturally talented players I have seen at Sunderland. He can get you off your seat with a turn of pace and take your breath away with the subtlest drops of the shoulder.
And yet there is also another side to him. An almost oppressive element to his game where by he demands your attention and then slaps you in the face for daring to look at him. The games when he is inexplicably out of sorts and attacks go to him to die.
When a player such as that is the very fulcrum of your side, the truth is that he holds your game hostage more often than he justifies his position. Then, just as you are finally on the cusp of making that realisation, he has a good day and charms you into trusting him again.
This is the cycle that Sunderland have been locked in with Stephane Sessegnon for a good long while now. Steve Bruce, Martin O'Neill, and now Paolo Di Canio have all been seduced by his good days sufficiently to ride the bad and, like the rest of us, their teams have fallen hostage to his individual inconsistency.
May be, just may be, the time has come for us all to break free of this damaging cycle to which we find ourselves a prisoner?
That isn't a question for me to answer, and I don't wish that it was. If I was in the hotseat I don't think I'd be decisive enough to make the call. I'd be too easily wowed by some flash of skill in an unimportant area of the pitch that leads to nothing.
But I know one thing - something has to be done quickly. This Sessegnon situation needs to be rectified before it undermines everything that Sunderland have done this summer.
At the moment there is a nasty sense of deja vu about it. It draws your mind back to a couple of years ago when Asamoah Gyan's head was turned by the promise of Middle Eastern riches and became a total passenger on the pitch. It was brave, and fully correct, of Di Canio to substitute Sessegnon at half time against Southampton, but it must not stop there.
It is unfair to compare Sessegnon to Gyan, really. I do so in a very broad sense. Unlike the latter, the former has given the club some fine years and stood up to be counted when it was needed, none more so than last season in the crucial games against Newcastle and Everton.
Nevertheless, the decision must be made - either his time has come to leave or a line is drawn under the idea of moving him on and his focus brought back to his football here.
Taking the rose-tinted spectacles of a fan off, I'd have to say I'd probably look to move the Benin forward on this week. You can't help but feel that his substantial wage could be much better utilised. That is a dispassionate view, perhaps, but there we go. It's one I'm sticking to. I think I have probably just had my fill of his inconsistency, but thankfully it isn't my decision to make.
Whatever happens, the cloud of uncertainty hovering over his head right now isn't doing anyone any favours.