Whether you’re just getting into your first serious relationship or you’re in a relationship that feels like it’s declining, the question is the same: why do relationships fail?
You want to know so you can either avoid the problems, put your thumb in the dike, and slow the rush of issues.
The truth is that there are many reasons relationships fail, but there are a few that stand out across many divorces and breakups. Fortunately, there are almost always things you can do to turn things around.
First, let’s look at what a failing relationship might look like.
What You’ll Find Here
What does a failing relationship look like?
Why do relationships fail? Poor communication
Lack of trust
Problems with addiction
You have different expectations
One of you is a narcissist
You’re growing differently
You grow apart, become bored, or fall into a rut
The relationship goes on autopilot
You’re codependent on one another
Why do relationships fail?
What Does a Failing Relationship Look Like?
There are several signs that your relationship is on the rocks.
- Every little thing results in an argument
- You’re thinking about cheating on him because you’re emotionally unhappy and unfulfilled
- You don’t feel physically close or sexually attracted to your partner any longer
- One or both of you distrust the other
- You confide in someone other than your partner about important issues
- You’d rather do your own thing than hang out with him
- One or both of you have stopped pitching in around the house
- You aren’t available for one another; you have your plans, and he has his so there’s no time to spend together
- One or both of you feel jealous of the other
- You criticize one another over the smallest things
Why do Relationships Fail? Poor Communication
At the top of the why relationships fail hit list is poor communication. Without great communication, I’m not sure how any relationship survives, whether it’s a romantic couple, two best friends, or a brother and sister.
Communication enables you to express appreciation, gratitude, disappointment, frustration, happiness, sadness, and a host of other feelings and emotions.
Not all communication is positive, especially if too many negative feelings are swirling around. Then communicating becomes the way to show your contempt for the other person through passive-aggressive comments, hurtful statements, and other negative utterances.
Contempt and respect are opposites, yet both are delivered via communication. Therefore, you can see that your choice of words and the tone with which you deliver those words is meaningful.
The same statement, delivered with a different tone of voice and attitude can be taken either way.
Perhaps the most important thing you communicate in a relationship is love. You do this through both body language and words.
Sitting down to have a conversation with your arms crossed over your chest shows closed body language. You’re saying that you aren’t open to whatever the other person has to say.
Sometimes, you aren’t even aware that your body language is defying you. Watching the body language of your partner tells you a lot about how he’s feeling at that moment as well.
Lack of Trust
Aside from poor communication, lack of trust is a big answer to the question of why do relationships fail.
Your romantic partner is the person you rely on to have your back. He’s your knight in shining armor and you’re his princess, or at least that’s how it should be. What I mean by that is you should treat one another with the highest respect and regard.
You treat him as if he’s the most important person in your world and vice versa. He makes you feel safe and secure.
But if the trust between you is broken, it puts a strain on your relationship. The question you must examine is whether the trust was truly broken or whether there are factors that make you think trust was broken.
In other words, is there proof that he’s done something to break your trust? Can you back up your feelings with evidence? Your best friend telling you she saw your guy having lunch with a beautiful woman doesn’t mean he’s cheating.
There are many reasons for him to be lunching with someone you don’t know. It may pertain to his job, or it might be an old school friend he ran across. The other possibility, and I’ve seen this happen so don’t dismiss it, is that your friend isn’t telling you the truth.
Always make sure you know what you’re talking about before you level accusations or become jealous.
Jealousy is more often based on fears and insecurities than it is on actual proof, so approach with caution before leveling any charges.
Is Your Relationship Over?
Do you think your relationship is teetering on the edge of disaster? Has he aleady left? This is a great article for sure, but there are others! Just click the button to read them.
Why do Relationships Fail? Compatibility Issues
Early in a relationship, you have heat and excitement. You might be sexually compatible and for a while, that drives the relationship.
But as time passes, other areas of compatibility become more important, like being compatible in your values, long-term goals, and ideas of what your relationship will look like.
You may discover that while you want a house full of children, your guy doesn’t want any, or wants just one or two.
One of you may envision a life of traveling the world while the other is a homebody. You might be financially thrifty while your beau is a spendthrift.
There are tons of ways in which couples can be incompatible. Some of them can be worked through while others cannot. Forcing a man to father children when he doesn’t want them can lead to him resenting not only you but your children.
As your relationship blossoms, some of these things will rise to the surface and you can talk about them. If one partner is financially sound while the other isn’t, you can probably teach him and guide him about how to be better at his finances.
Still, there are instances where compatibility just isn’t possible and at that point, you’re best to cut your losses and find someone with whom you’re more compatible. As sad as it may be to realize the problem, it’s sadder still to go on in a relationship that won’t bring you happiness.
Problems with Addiction
Some people have addictive personalities. They may fall into alcohol or drug abuse, or they might become addicted to gambling or another vice like porn.
While one person may be addicted, the impact on those around that person ripples out like the rings from a rock dropped in water. Arguments might center around the addiction itself, or the impact of the addiction, like financial stress.
Addiction also impacts you if you spend any amount of time covering for your partner. He can’t go to work because he’s too hungover so you call him in sick to his boss.
Additionally, drinking or using drugs alters your personality. Some people become meaner when they drink.
As friends and family see what’s happening, they may try to intervene in the hopes of protecting you. But, if you’re in denial about the problem or don’t like the thought of someone else realizing there’s a problem, that intervention may distance you from friends and family.
Abusers often can’t keep a job, so they ask family members for money, creating additional strain on those relationships.
Unless you’re both addicted, problems with addiction are one reason why relationships fail.
Why Do Relationships Fail? You Have Different Expectations
It isn’t easy for two people to stay together for decades without there being some conflict along the way. How you manage that conflict makes the difference between staying together and drifting apart.
While physical and sexual attraction drives compatibility early in a relationship, other things take center stage as the relationship ages. As you grow older, you might find yourself more focused on what you want than what you both want.
A few types of differences in expectations are below.
You’re in it for the Long Haul – He Isn’t
While you may be out there looking for your Mr. Forever, your new beau might be seeking Ms. Right now but not Ms. Forever. In other words, he’s looking for hookups and you’re looking for a ring.
At some point in your early dating with a guy, you need to be clear on what your expectations are. It sucks to get hooked on a guy who’s more into hookups.
You Have Different Priorities
While you may want to travel the world, your new guy might be more into building his career or growing a new business.
You might prioritize having children while he wants to travel.
It’s okay to have those different priorities, but when it comes to thinking long-term, they need to be sorted out. For example, does he just want to travel while he’s young, then settle down and raise a family? Is he so career-driven right now because he has an end goal?
Priorities tend to change as you get older. Sometimes, people’s priorities are made in their immaturity and as they mature, they make a course correction.
A healthy discussion is often the best way to navigate priorities and determine whether there’s a compatibility issue now or a potential one in the future.
Why Do Relationships Fail? One of You is a Narcissist
It’s almost impossible for a narcissist to be in a successful relationship because their only focus is themselves. They find it difficult to develop intimacy with anyone due to their constant need to be admired and adored.
It’s easy to get sucked in by a narcissist because they can be charming, but soon, their over-inflated impression of themselves will rear its ugly head and make getting close almost impossible.
Some research indicates that narcissists are more likely to cheat on their partners. Additionally, they’re more prone to manipulation, extreme selfishness, breaking rules, contempt toward others, violating boundaries, a sense of entitlement, and so on. Pretty much any word or phrase you’d associate with arrogance or self-centeredness applies here.
A narcissist is never going to see life through your eyes, and they don’t care how their actions are impacting you. Just how everyone else’s actions are impacting them.
This relationship is destined for failure. In this instance, there isn’t much you can do except find someone new.
You’re Growing Differently
When you’re young, your life is changing by leaps and bounds. You’re finding a way to a career or making plans to have a family. You and your partner might be on similar growth paths as you journey together.
Then, something changes and one of you advances through your career faster while the other either struggles to find the same success or stays home to raise the family.
Your social circles are no longer filled with the same people. One of you is doing the raising kids/mom or dad group/soccer thing while the other is building a social network around work cohorts.
Your goals are different, your social lives are different, and your growth plan is different. This can make it tricky to identify with the other person and their needs.
This is something that can be talked through if you’re both attentive, compassionate, and non-judgmental with one another.
Use excellent listening skills to truly hear your partner’s concerns and be kind in expressing yours. Chances are neither of you realizes what the other is thinking or feeling right now and with some cool-headed discussions, you can work through a solution that benefits you both.
Why do Relationships Fail? You Grow Apart, Become Bored, or Fall into a Rut
These are very common reasons why people grow unhappy in their relationships, but these reasons don’t necessarily mean you’re destined for relationship failure.
Chances are you just need to change things up a bit. In the case of growing apart, it’s sometimes possible to evaluate where you both are and see if you can come back together. For longer-term relationships, this is often a problem, but it doesn’t need to be a relationship ender.
How have you grown apart? Are there areas in which you feel you come back together? For example, you stayed home, ran your own business online, and raised your kids while he had a job outside your home for many years.
Now, you find yourself with kids in college, a business that practically runs itself, and time on your hands. You want to travel, but does your partner?
He’s got a great career, which he earned through hard work and dedication, but he’s nearing retirement so while he always worked hard, you may find that he too is ready to travel.
Of course, there are other instances in which you can’t come together and too much distance has developed between you. Then, you’re more likely to end up apart than together.
Money is a great divider for couples, and not just married couples. For men, money is a big deal because it’s how they provide for their families. Women often don’t understand this and even though money is important to them as well, the levels of importance or what that means to their relationship are often different.
As I mentioned earlier, sometimes a spendthrift and a frugal spender end up together and this can produce disastrous results. I also said, however, that you can often work this issue out.
Many times, if someone is a spendthrift, one of two things happened in their earlier years. Either they had very wealthy parents who paid no attention to what things cost, or they were never taught financial responsibility because their parents didn’t know it either.
In either case, you were raised to be financially responsible and now you’re faced with teaching your partner to be the same.
Money issues cause you to be fearful and anxious. If your partner doesn’t regard money in the same way you do, you might not feel secure or safe. You may feel powerless and as if your life is out of control.
None of that feels good and it can lead to relationship issues if it’s not reined in.
Why do Relationships Fail? The Relationship Goes on Autopilot
Some folks think that after they’ve been together for a while, the relationship can survive on autopilot. This is a very wrong assumption.
Relationships take constant time and effort on the part of both partners.
I am a big proponent of weekly, or at least bi-weekly date nights. This is a time when you come together to enjoy one another. There’s no discussion of hot topics, no talking about the upcoming week’s schedule.
This is a time to plan together and catch up with one another. Set your phone aside to allow for face-to-face talking and engagement.
You can also keep your relationship from going on autopilot by staying tuned in to what’s important to your partner. Does he have a new hobby? Show some interest in it or try to combine one of your hobbies with one of his.
Also, remember that boredom in the bedroom is never good for a relationship. Explore one another’s fantasies. Try new things. Buy some sexy lingerie or try some couple’s games to spice things up.
If you feel things are becoming too routine, it’s time to shake them up!
You’re Co-Dependent on One Another
Codependence in a relationship is problematic. You should each rely on yourselves for happiness and satisfaction, but in a codependent relationship, your happiness is often based on your partner’s happiness.
An example is being with a partner who battles addiction or mental health issues. When he’s up, you’re up, but when he’s down, so are you. It has nothing to do with where you are in life and everything to do with where he is.
That’s not the only way you can be codependent, but it’s a great way to explain a more complex problem. The article linked above will give you more insight into codependence.
Why do Relationships Fail?
The bottom line is that relationships take time and energy. Think of it like a plant or a child. Every day, it needs time and nurturing so it can grow to be stronger.
If one or both of you aren’t putting in that time and energy, things begin to spiral downward. Sometimes, if you both begin spending time and energy again, you can turn things around, but if you wait too long, there might not be a way to recover.
We’ve discussed perhaps a dozen reasons why relationships fail here and you might see snippets of your relationship in one or more of those topics.
It’s up to you and your partner to sit down and determine whether you can overcome the challenges in your relationship.
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