All couples face problems in their relationship, but not all problems lead to breaking up. Relationship fail for different reasons; the key is to figure out how to solve the problems in yours.
Here’s what Fredrich Nietzsche said about unhappy marriages: “It is not a lack of love, but a lack of friendship that makes unhappy marriages.”
If you’re not treating your partner like a friend (with respect, love, generosity, honesty, acceptance, unselfishness, etc), then you’re weakening the foundation of your relationship.
If you’re worried about your relationship, read Getting the Love You Want: A Guide for Couples. It’s helped thousands of couples find the love they need and solve different types of relationship problems. It combines information with practical relationship exercises, which all good relationship books should!
10 Reasons Relationships Fail
The source of these problems for couples is Human Sexuality by Roger Hock – yes, it’s a boring title, but it’s got some fantastic insights into romantic relationships. It’s not just about sex, it’s about how couples communicate.
1. Broken promises, lying, cheating, stealing. These violations of trust almost always result in relationship problems, and is an obvious reasons a relationship fails. If the basic trust in a love relationship is repeatedly broken, problems accumulate and the motivation to stay together decreases. Couples in loving relationships can learn to reconcile their differences – and even survive a physical or emotional affair without anger or bitterness.
2. Imbalance of power in relationships. Couples may be more likely to break up when one partner has more decision-making power than the other. When one person makes all the decisions about activities, friends, financial matters, household matters, and vacations, the relationship isn’t balanced or loving, and quickly becomes unstable. Both partners should equally share the decision-making power.
3. Acceptance of stereotypes in relationships. This was once a more common reason relationships failed, but it still exists today! Mistaken gender myths include beliefs such as “Men should earn more money than women” or “Women should stay at home and raise the kids.” If couples believe these stereotypes, they create false expectations that can lead to splitting up.
4. Isolation from friends and family. This reason for splitting up is based on fear and insecurity; new couples may isolate themselves from other people because they’re “in love and want to be together.” A brief period of cocooning is normal for many couples, but it’s far healthier to interact with other people regularly.
5. Lack of self-knowledge for couples. If one or both partners aren’t in tune with their own interests, needs, desires, future plans, goals, values, and preferences, then it’s difficult for them to build a better marriage or healthy love relationship. Self-knowledge helps partners communicate who they are and what they want in a relationship, which can prevent problems.
6. Low self-esteem, insecurity, and lack of self-confidence. Relationships fail because one partner feels unworthy of being loved. This insecurity can lead to possessiveness and dependence, which isn’t healthy for either partner in the love relationship. Couples break up because of insecurity and jealousy.
7. Excessive jealousy – one of the most common reasons relationships fail . “Jealousy is cited as one of the most frequent causes of the breakup of romantic relationships,” writes Hock. Delusional jealousy can trigger abuse and violence, which can (and should) be why a couple breaks up! Delusional jealousy isn’t as common as “normal” jealousy, but both can cause serious relationship problems.
8. Ineffective communication. Both partners need to be able to share their thoughts, feelings, opinions, values, needs, frustrations, and joys. Sometimes couples avoid speaking honestly and hide their true selves, which may not always lead to a break up…but it doesn’t strengthen their bond!
9. Control issues. If one partner is trying to control or manipulate the other, the relationship can become weak or destructive. Controlling behaviors include checking up on the partner, name-calling, threatening the partner, requiring the partner to check in all the time, or not allowing any deviations from the schedule. These signs of obsessive love may not cause the couple to break up, but it is a sign of an unhealthy relationship.
10. Unhealthy physical behavior – which shouldn’t be part of a love relationship! This is an obvious relationship problem that should lead to an immediate break up! Physical, intimate, and emotional abuse are attempts to gain total control over a partner. Though relationships like this should end immediately, couples stay together stay for various reasons.
Has your relationship failed? Read How to End a Relationship.
I'm glad you're here! My name is Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen; my husband Bruce and I live in Vancouver, BC with our critters. We can't have kids, and are learning to accept whatever life brings - both good and bad. I have an MSW (Master of Social Work) from UBC, and degrees in Education and Psychology. I hope you say hello below - I can't give relationship advice, but writing can bring you clarity and insight.