Why do people break up? (15+ common and unexpected reasons)
While the last thing couples want to think about is breaking up, the sad reality is that it happens—a lot. In fact, according to recent data from the American Psychological Associationas many as 50 percent of marriages in the United States eventually end in divorce. But how can you tell whether your relationship will survive? Well, there are surefire predictive tells like your bedroom habits, the way you argue, and how often you communicate. Even the way you carry your day-to-day conversations can shed light on your relationship's longevity.
Keep reading to discover some of the most common reasons why relationships fall apart. In his research published in the journal Psychological AssessmentKeith SanfordPhD, a psychology professor at Baylor University, found that partners who admitted that they withdrew often during arguments reported being unhappier and more apathetic about the relationship overall. When Virgil wrote that "love conquers all," he had clearly never been in a serious relationship.
Yes, love can overcome many things, but if there's one thing that it can't overcome, it's not being on the same .
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At the end of the day, you and your partner need to be clear about fundamental decisions like where to live, when and if to have kids, and how to save and spend money—otherwise, the relationship will fall apart. According to Lesli Doaresa certified relationship coach in Cary, North Carolina, "67 percent of disagreements in a relationship never get resolved and they don't need to, but the other 33 percent, if not resolved, can lead to the end of the relationship. Your partner is likely doing the best they can—but like any human, they're going to mess up and make mistakes sometimes.
And while a supportive spouse handles these slip-ups like an adult, an unsupportive one will treat their partner like they should be perfect percent of the time, leading to frustration on both ends. Many people will avoid conflict and pretend that issues in their relationship don't exist simply because they live in fear of being alone. However, this strategy backfires, as all conflicts will rear their ugly he eventually—and by then, it's usually too late to solve them. At the beginning of a relationship, couples tend to be honest and open about their feelings and emotions.
But as things progress, many people doom their relationships by assuming that their ificant other can—and should be able to— read their body language and just know what's on their mind. The worse things are in your own relationship, the better everyone else's is going to look. But by comparing yourself, you are only going to feel worse. You're ultimately sabotaging whatever of your relationship there is left to salvage. The grass is greener where you water it and no relationship is as flawless as it looks on Instagram.
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Compromising isn't just about letting your spouse choose which restaurant you go to every once in a while. In a healthy, committed relationship, to compromise is to make "the conscious choice to accept each other for exactly who you are ," writes Laura Schlessingera relationship expert and the host of the Sirius XM radio show The Dr. Laura Program. Have you ever found yourself crying in a fit of rage while your partner hasn't so much as shed a tear? This may be a that your relationship is on the rocks.
A couple's meta-emotions—that is, how they feel about emotion—need to be on the same. As marriage researcher John GottmanPhD, discovered, meta-emotion mismatches were 80 percent accurate in predicting divorce. Basically, it's not about the conflict itself—it's about handling it in a complementary way to how your partner handles it. Having contempt for your partner is one of the four behaviors that Gottman says is a telltale indicator of an impending divorce.
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In his research, he polled couples on how often they behaved with contempt, criticism, defensiveness, and stonewalling. Then, he measured perceived relationship satisfaction and found that the behaviors were over 90 percent successful in predicting divorce. According to Gottman, seeing your partner as inferior in particular is the "kiss of death" for any relationship.
And this makes sense, given that another study published in the Journal of Marriage and Family found that couples who showed contempt for each other within their first year of marriage were more likely to divorce before their 16th wedding anniversary. Feel like things are past the point of no return? In a study published in the journal Current Directions in Psychological Science, researchers determined that the people you love most are also the people you're most likely to take your anger out ongiven that you interact with them more than anyone.
But unfortunately, what they also found is that "aggression is harmful to individuals and to relationships," meaning that the more you hurt the people you lovethe more you risk pushing them away. It's hard to focus on the present when you're busy living in the past. And this is especially true in a romantic relationshipas your complete and undivided emotional and physical presence are required in order to make things work. If you want your current relationship to last, leave the past in the past and let go of the things that are holding you back.
Trust is not an easy thing to build with someone especially if you've been betrayed in the pastbut you should have faith in the person with whom you intend to spend the rest of your life.
Should you build a partnership on a foundation of mistrust, you risk lacking both physical and emotional intimacy. Plus, you can almost guarantee that eventually your partner will get fed up and walk away. If you love a good nightcap before heading to bed, then you should be sure that your life partner enjoys one as well.
One study from the University of Buffalo found that around 50 percent of married couples with differing alcohol habits got divorced before they hit the year mark. On the other hand, partners who had similar drinking habits—whether they indulged, abstained, or consumed alcohol moderately—only had a divorce rate of about 30 percent. Secrets are no fun, especially in a long-term relationship.
And what's even worse is lying about them, like when "your partner keeps secrets from you and blames you when you call them out on their secrecy," says Terry GaspardMSW, LICSW, a relationship expert and therapist in Massachusetts and Rhode Island. If you notice your partner lying to your face and then holding you responsible for their loathsome actions, it might be time to sit down with them and address the problem directly before things escalate further.
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Every couple fights, but healthy ones end them with both parties apologizing and taking partial blame for what has transpired. But in a relationship that's reaching its breaking point, you might find that either you or your partner refuse to accept any of the blame, with one of you painting themselves entirely as the victim. A healthy and happy relationship should revolve around how each person is feeling. However, partners in unstable relationships often find themselves fighting with their ificant other, with little to no regard for how the other person feels.
A couple will never understand each other when there is a lack of reverence in the relationship. And if one partner has a blatant disrespect for the other's life choices, neither partner will ever feel comfortable talking about their day, let alone their feelings or beliefs. A big and unexpected life event, like the death of a parent or a sudden job layoff, can shake a relationship to its core. And, oftentimes, these life-changing moments will result in other major changes that many relationships struggle to survive.
It's not necessarily how each partner spends money that causes problems in a marriage, it's how one partner thinks their ificant other is spending that does.
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When Ashley LeBarona graduate student at Brigham Young University BYUand her fellow researchers studied couples and their spending habits inthey found that husbands who viewed their wives as big spenders had the greatest financial conflicts, regardless of actual spending habits. Relationships are all about give and take—and if you take more than you give, then the balance will be thrown off and your partner will likely seek comfort in other places and people.
In fact, this is such a well-known phenomenon that experts have even given it a name: It's called the Social Exchange Theory.
According to Mark V. Redmond of Iowa State University, the theory outlines how "we are disturbed when there is no equity in an exchange or where others are rewarded more for the same costs we incurred. When your ificant other spends the entire day slaving away on a home-cooked meal, don't forget to thank them for all that hard work. Otherwise, your partner will feel like all their efforts have gone unnoticed, or that you feel like your time is more valuable than theirs.
When gratitude is not expressed, emotional, and sometimes physical, health is compromised. Insecure folks use their partners as a crutch in order to feel better about their many perceived shortcomings. And when the relationship is less than satisfactory, they see this as a slight against who they are as a person, which can lead to anger, frustration, and ultimately, the end of the relationship.
Unfortunately, it can be difficult to reason with someone who pins their self-worth to the status of their relationship.
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One of the most important parts of being in a relationship is loving your partner for who they are without trying to change them. People who secretly wish that their partner was just a little bit more fashionable or athletic will find that they love an unrealistic version of their partner and not the actual person with whom they're coupled.
It always helps to remember that love is unconditional—and if yours isn't, then it might not be love after all. You can pretend to settle an argument with your spouse just to make it go away, but that is only going to make things worse. After getting married, it takes work to maintain the spark that once existed in your relationship.
If you don't work on keeping it alive, you risk falling into the same old routines. As soon as the initial newness of living together wears off, such everyday things cease to feel exciting and romantic, and you may find yourself feeling worried that your partner no longer cares as much or is as excited to be with you. Every person in a relationship just wants their voice to be heard—but in return, you need to give your partner that same respect and actually listen to what they're saying.
If your partner thinks that you're ignoring them, they will feel like their opinions and emotions aren't important to you—and consequently, neither is the relationship. If you got married straight out of high school or college, you might start to reconsider your relationship later on.
According to a study from Nicholas Wolfingera professor at the University of Utah, couples who marry younger are at a greater risk of divorce compared to couples who wed in their late 20s and early 30s. Unfortunately, if you get hitched when you're under the age of 20, Wolfinger estimates that your divorce risk is 32 percent, based on age alone. Before you tie the knot, make sure you figure out finances, living arrangements, future career paths—anything that could potentially get in the way of your happiness and relationship down the line.