8 Reasons That Break Relationships

Breaking up with someone can be difficult —until it isn’t. Not compared to the amount of pain and suffering the both of you have experienced, bringing the absolute worst in each other. You’ve tried to make it work, again and again, but things are no longer looking up. You stopped holding onto promises and hope, but mainly, you stopped holding onto each other. Do you find it increasingly difficult to stabilize the relationship? Has your love for your partner disintegrated? Psych2Go shares with you 8 reasons that break relationships:

1. Communication issues

Many studies have shown that communication, or rather, the lack of it, is one of the leading causes for breakups and divorces. It is also one of the main reasons people turn to couples therapy to seek help. After spending over 20 years doing research on couple studies, Dr. John Gottman of the University Washington concluded that contempt is the highest predictor of divorce. Contempt is shown when both partners express negative judgment, criticism, or sarcasm regarding the worth of one another. In other words, contempt occurs when two people start taking each other for granted and bring each other down instead of encouraging one another.

In communication studies, this is known as being “tough on the person, soft on the issue.” Couples who actively show contempt stop respecting one another. Instead of trying to resolve the issue or behavior itself, the person is blamed as a whole, and empathy is disregarded altogether. It’s not too long after this that a lack of mutual understanding follows, which ultimately drives two people away.

2. Different expectations and priorities

It’s easy to form the spark initially when passion is born from elements like physical attraction and common interests, but as the realities and demands of daily life set in, that’s when the true testing occurs. Your roads begin to diverge when your expectations don’t align with one another. In addition, you and your partner may prioritize the relationship differently. For instance, one of you may put your career or family first, while the other person prioritizes the relationship. While one of you may be more serious about the other individual, the other partner may consider the relationship convenient only for the present. This can easily turn into a game of leading the other person on if communication isn’t honest from the start about what the two of you want.

3. The two of you are growing at two different speeds.

The hardest part of sustaining relationships over time is being able to grow with your partner through thick and thin. One of you may be pursuing a career and expanding your professional circle while the other partner may be stagnating or have a strong desire to settle down faster. When the two of you grow at two different speeds, it becomes increasingly difficult for your lives to co-exist in a balanced, healthy manner, especially if your needs can no longer be met by one another.

This is why high school relationships usually don’t sustain when you’re still developing, maturing, and learning about who you are. Studies in 2014 have shown that less than two percent of marriages were comprised of high school sweethearts. In addition, according to a survey done by Mic using Google Consumer Surveys, many people nowadays between the ages of 18 and 34 meet their significant others through mutual friends. Divorce rates within the first 10 years of marriage between high school sweethearts (54%) are also much higher than the average American couple (32%). According to studies, 78% of high school sweethearts who wait at least until the age of 25 to marry make it beyond their 10th anniversary. This shows that timing undeniably plays a large part on what makes or breaks relationships.

4. Incompatibility

As you begin to learn more about your partner over time, you find out whether the both of you are compatible or not. The thing about compatibility, though, is that it doesn’t exist in just one component. Many people think that if one component is lacking compatibility, then they can use another component to make up for it. This is why some couples stay together because the sex is great, but over time, if they aren’t emotionally or intellectually stimulated by each other, or have clashing perspectives on life in general, then it’s hard to find other reasons for them to bond. Compatibility is explored in different aspects, ranging from personality types, intimacy, and attachment styles that are developed from our childhoods and upbringing.

5. Trust issues

A strong, lasting relationship is built upon the foundation of trust. Without this key element, it becomes impossible for love to grow and sustain. Trust issues develop due to factors, such as: jealousy, possessiveness, emotional infidelity, physical or sexual infidelity, relational game playing, and unreasonable rigidity. Insecurity isn’t always linked to the other partner’s behavior and can be something that forms from within based on our own fears and preconceived ideas. This is why people often seek ways to work on themselves after a breakup, because they realize the relationship didn’t work out due to personal issues that haven’t been resolved yet and prevented them from growing closer to their partner.

The thing about working out fears is that it’s not going to happen overnight, especially if they’re linked to anxiety. Depending on how attached you are to them, it can take as long as a lifetime. Healing isn’t linear either. Just when you think you’ve gotten over the fears that were holding you back, sometimes they come back in the worst, unexpected ways. But, it doesn’t mean you’re necessarily back to where you started. It just means that you still have work to do, and it’s important to recognize that.

6. Relational abuse

Relational abuse occurs when one person repeatedly mistreats the other individual. Examples of relational abuse include: verbal, emotional, physical, and sexual. Manipulation, passive-aggressiveness, and overly excessive dominance are also abusive patterns and behaviors to look out for. The thing about relational abuse or trauma bonds in general is that they may not be as overt as media often portrays it to be. In fact, it may be hard to recognize if the partner is an expert at manipulation. That’s why being self-aware and listening to your gut feeling are essential. Recognizing relational abuse is a powerful reason why some relationships end when the partner receiving it has had enough.

7. Bad habits

Some relationships end due to a partner’s toxic habits, such as gambling, drinking, doing drugs, or having a sex addiction. It’s hard to be in a relationship with someone with an alcohol or drug addiction because when substances become someone’s obsession, it makes it difficult for there to be room for anyone else. In addition, drug and alcohol abuse can have an impact on both men and women’s sexual functioning. Men may find it hard to become aroused and can experience erectile dysfunction, while women may suffer from decreased libido. This can heavily take a toll on the relationship both emotionally and physically that ultimately results in a breakup.

8. Reaching the dead end zone

When two people have been together for a while, stagnation and boredom can grow until they’ve reached the dead end zone. When this happens, they find it increasingly hard to continue to stay together. There may be a lack of commitment that comes into play or simply the act of trial and error in mate-finding which influences one partner to initiate the breakup. If you’re in a long-term relationship, life obligations and responsibilities may get in the way of the two of you feeling connected and mutually evolving. This is why when kids grow up and move out, the parents experience “empty nest” syndrome in which they feel like total strangers to one another when they realize they never focused on each other over the past years. When two people want to stop making a relationship work, that’s when it inevitably comes to an end.

What are the reasons that your past relationships didn’t work out? Psych2Go would love to hear your thoughts! Please be sure to leave a comment down below!



Fiouzi, A. (2017, May 15). In 2017, Is Marrying Your High School Sweetheart Still a Thing? Mel Magazine. Retrieved October 31, 2017.

Impact of Addiction on Intimacy and Sexual Relationships. (2017). Retrieved October 31, 2017, from alcoholrehab.com

Leibowitz, L. (2015, March 6). The Way Most People Meet Their Significant Others is Probably Not What You Think. Mic. Retrieved October 31, 2017.

Ni, P. (2015, July 12). Top 10 Reasons Relationships Fail. Psychology Today. Retrieved October 31, 2017.

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  1. I loved the article. The one thing that was left out was finances. I find that when one person continues to load all the financial responsibilities on the other. This is a major breaking point, and the number one breaking point of a marriage/relationship.


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