Why Do People Break Up? (15+ Common and Unexpected Reasons)

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Why do most relationships eventually fall apart?

Are there any common factors that usually lead to break up?

Dr. Sherrie Campbell

Sherrie Campbell

Clinical Psychologist | Inspirational Speaker | Author, But It’s Your Family: Cutting Ties with Toxic Family Members and Loving Yourself in the Aftermath

Having different views and opinions on certain things

People break up for a multitude of different reasons but the main things I see in my office are differences is values on sex, money, and morals.

When two people come together they tend to have different views and opinions on these three topics. If couples cannot find common ground and are unbending in any one of these areas it can deeply damage the entire relationship. What it comes down to is good communication, flexibility, but also not being pushed beyond what is okay for each individual.

If communication breaks down the couple will break up. The couples who are friends as much as lovers seem to be more adaptable to each other.

Couples who don’t have a solid basis of friendship can turn to enemies very quickly and become competitive rather than collaborative. Not everyone is our best match and yet you want to be sure that your own stubbornness on the ideas of how you think things should be doesn’t become relationship sabotage.

Celia Schweyer

Celia Schweyer

Dating Expert at DatingScout

Lack of communication

A healthy couple communicates with each other no matter what the situation is. When communication starts to break, a lot of areas in your relationship will also start to crumble.

Misunderstandings will become more frequent, and problems will go unsettled because you no longer talk to each other. This will create a gap between the two of you, and when this is not resolved, it will eventually lead to a breakup.

Growing apart

People are constantly changing and evolving. No one really stays the same. We explore and try out new things. We grow and learn more about ourselves.

However, there are cases when your growth might not go along with the growth of your partner. Instead of growing together, you grow apart from each other.

You realize that the person you are now isn’t the same person who fell in love with your partner. Now, you might have different priorities, views on things, and more. The difference might just be too vast to ever get a bridge across.

Serious trust issues

Couples break up when they can no longer work out a relationship that has low trust levels. A relationship that has experienced cheating and other problems that may have caused one of them to question everything they believed in about their partner is bound to fall apart.

Other underlying issues such as refusal to apologize and inability to admit their fault makes things even more complicated between the couple. People can only handle as much so they decide to call it quits in the end after trying and not seeing any positive result.

One simply doesn’t love the other enough

A relationship is all about “give and take.” There will be days when you have to do all the giving simply because your partner has nothing to give at the moment, but these days should be reciprocated by your partner, too. There will also be days when you’re the one who deserves to take after giving so much.

But the thing is, when it’s always you who tries to keep the relationship afloat, you’ll get tired eventually.

Imagine doing the lifting of for two people just to keep the relationship going. It can get tremendously exhausting. There comes a point when the giver—the one who loves way more than the other person—will realize that the love he or she is fighting for is no longer worth saving.

Jessica Emery, J.D. LL.M.

Jessica Emery

Family Mediator and Attorney, The Emery LawFirm

Lack of healthy self-esteem

As a family mediator and divorce attorney, I have a front-row seat for hundreds of breakups each year. What seeing so many relationships end has taught me is that for a relationship to thrive, both partners need to spend enough time and energy not only on their relationship to each other but on their own inner well-being. The number one ingredient I see leading to the end of a relationship is a lack of healthy self-esteem.

When one or both partners is lacking in self-esteem a whole host of problems follow, often killing the relationship. Poor self-esteem almost always interferes with healthy communication, which is the backbone of every good relationship.

For example, an insecure spouse is much more likely to yell or react defensively when confronted with the strains of day-to-day living or criticism from the other partner. A lack of self-confidence can also spawn other relationship assassins like overspending, cheating, or physical and emotional absenteeism as the under-confident partner searches for ways to make themselves feel better.

Related: Why is Self Confidence Important?

On the other hand, couples I see reconcile are able to step back and look really hard at themselves and what they could do better. That’s a tough task if you aren’t mentally and emotionally ready to confront some hard truths.

Both people in a relationship need to nurture themselves so that they can, in turn, nurture each other and a life together.

Justin Lavelle

Justin Lavelle

Chief Communications Director for BeenVerified

Different relationship goals

Sometimes, relationship goals and expectations are like mixing oil and water. While many people seek a stable, long-lasting relationship, others want something casual and exciting.

If you find yourself unable to invest whereas your partner is already thinking about marriage, kids, and buying a house together, understand that having different relationship goals is completely normal. However, the determining factor of this situation is whether or not you are able to compromise.

Take time to decide if you may change your perspective in the future. Then, discuss solutions with your partner (like him or her waiting until you reach the point of wanting to invest) and be willing to let go if compromising is unfeasible. The last thing you want to do to anyone you care about is string them along.

Happiness becomes a foreign concept

Day by day, you notice little things about your relationship that no longer excite you. You value time apart more than time together. Furthermore, you have sacrificed passions that once defined you in order to keep your relationship afloat.

Something inside you slowly drains away, and you wonder how you will ever climb out of the pit of negativity and exhaustion. Many people are unaware or in denial of the loss of their happiness, a key factor in a relationship, and flounder in bickering, resentment, and dissatisfaction.

Your relationships may not necessarily be the only cause of this unhappiness, but it may certainly be contributing to that lack of fulfillment feeling.

Inability to communicate

Do you ever feel like you and your partner are on different wavelengths when it comes to communicating? You say one thing, and he or she takes it as something completely different?

Your partner becomes defensive or dismissive, and you want to rip your hair out with frustration. Quite often, when you do try to communicate, the results are explosive. How can you pursue a healthy relationship when you cannot sit your partner down and have a productive conversation about stressful issues if his or her immediate response is to clam up or deny?

There are ways to ensure you are communicating effectively: have a light but serious tone, avoid blaming and using the word “you,” balance positives and negatives, etc.

However, that is not always enough. If you and your partner cannot learn to communicate, it may be time to find someone more tuned into your signal.

Christine Scott-Hudson, MA, MFT, ATR

Christine Scott-Hudson

Licensed Psychotherapist | Somatic Therapist | Owner of Create Your Life Studio

Relationships dissolve when they fail to provide a safe container

Relationships fail when partners do not feel heard, seen, respected, valued, appreciated, or loved.

  • Each partner must feel like what they say matters.
  • Each partner must feel like they are seen and cherished, valued, and appreciated.
  • Each partner must feel respected.
  • Each partner must feel that they matter and are deeply loved.

If a partner begins to doubt their significance within the partnership, they may begin to question the need for the relationship at all. A relationship is meant to be a safe place to land. If you feel worse inside of the relationship than outside of it, the relationship will surely fail.

Relationships dissolve when they fail to provide a safe container for the partners.

In order to salvage a relationship that is unhealthy, you must genuinely help your partner to feel heard, seen, respected, valued, appreciated, and loved. Make amends where necessary and appropriate. Be honest and vulnerable. Own your side of the street. Set your intention of repair. Treat your partner with respect.

When reviving a sick relationship, your behavior says far more than your words do. Act accordingly.

Shel Harrington

Shel Harrington

Family Law Attorney | Professor at Oklahoma City University College of Law

Unrealistic expectations are relationship killers

After two decades of practicing Family Law, the pattern is now too familiar to me. People start out excited about the relationship, the way the other person makes them feel, the headiness of being deliriously in love.

When familiarity results in less fluttering butterflies and more laundry, one feels like something is missing. Where’s the magic gone? Hollywood phrases like “soulmate” and “you complete me” do a disservice to viewing relationships from a realistic perspective.

Two expectations that, if not adjusted, can lead to the path of a break-up are:

  • expecting the magic stage to be a way of life instead of a step toward a more mature, deeper relationship and
  • expecting to have the same relationship results without exerting the same effort and prioritizing of the relationship that they did in the early stages.

As partners get comfortable in the relationship, often one or both start taking the other for granted.

They stop asking the fun, exploratory questions, don’t validate the other’s interests as enthusiastically, and don’t prioritize doing all those little things they did in the early period of the relationship to make the other feel incredibly special.

Entering a long-term relationship with realistic expectations– knowing the infatuation love will evolve into mature love, and knowing that one still has to prioritize making the other feel special and appreciated –seriously enhances the chances of having a fulfilling relationship that lasts.

Related: The Difference Between Love and Infatuation

Rori Sassoon

Rori Sassoon

Relationship and Dating Expert | Co-owner of Platinum Poire

You’re no longer happy

“My partner/ this relationship exhausts me”

If you have done everything you can do (within reason) to make your relationship work and you are not happy with “the person that you’ve become” while you’re with this person, it can be obvious that it’s time to move on. With the right partner, you will love who you become, you will be energized and feel like you can take on the world.

Not feeling satisfied in the bedroom

Marriage is cemented in bed. Being compatible sexually is a very important need that can make or break a relationship.

You have grown apart

When one partner is committed to growth and the other partner isn’t, you have a couple that grows apart. What sets in? Boredom, differences, and in the worst cases, no respect. If your values no longer align you may be doomed.

Maybe there’s someone else in the picture

This can definitely be unexpected. It can also be avoided sometimes by paying attention to your red flags. If a person has a history and reputation – it is for a reason.

You no longer feel valued

“I don’t feel valued” or “I’m not feeling supported”

The second that your partner feels that you do not value them, especially a man, he may feel emasculated. Value your partner, build them up and support their dreams and goals.

MartinJon Garcia

MartinJon Garcia

Recovery Coach and Mentor

The relationship no longer served the best interest of both involved

Relationships are complex, but only because we’re complex. I once heard of a community whose marriages only last a year. I don’t know if that community actually exists, but I like to believe it does.

Along with that story was added that some couples choose to re-up their marriage every year for their lives. The point, as I understand it, is that if the relationship no longer served the best interest of both involved then it needs to be dissolved.

Relationships come into our lives as blessings. Some of those blessings are the challenges we’ll face. We choose our partners, meaning we are attracted to them energetically because they can help us see those things that we may prefer to avoid.

At first, the attraction is new and interesting we get to examine new parts of ourselves. After a time, however, the reason we avoid looking at that part of ourselves starts to irritate us. The triggers we experience, due to our partner’s actions or words, are wholly ours. No matter how much we would prefer to say that the actions of our partners are at fault it is much more correct to examine how and why we are triggered by the action.

This is the reason most relationships don’t work. If one or all the people within the relationship are unwilling to grow, change and take responsibility for themselves, a relationship cannot continue, nor should it.

We often see people get into a relationship and change, however slightly. This is perfectly fine for a time but if the relationship becomes something that helps us avoid loving, and caring for, ourselves then the relationship is in trouble.

All that would have to happen is the partner want the tiniest bit more out of life and the veil would fall. This is also why many people experience similar patterns and timeframes within relationships. Self-love is at the core of being able to offer anyone else love.

Related: 12 Best Self Love Books

Adina Mahalli

Adina Mahali

Certified Mental Health Expert and Family Care Professional, Maple Holistics

Lack Of Communication

The phrase “silence is golden” does not apply in relationships. If you stay silent for too long in a relationship, you’re bound for failure. The more you talk and let things out in the open, the better you’ll feel. Good communication is a skill that may take some time to learn. Not discussing issues in a healthy manner will just cause a build-up of anger and probably more unhealthy fights.

You Aren’t Fighting

In life, you fight for things that are important to you. If you and your significant other have stopped fighting, it means a breakup is imminent.

Think about the relationships with your friends. You fight with the friends that matter to you way more than the acquaintances in your life. The silent treatment never helped anyone. Once one of you gives up and don’t want to fight for the relationship, you may as well say goodbye.