10 Reasons Relationships Fail 23

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.

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relationship failure

10 Reasons Relationships Fail

New research from the Society for Personality and Social Psychology has found that sometimes expressing anger can be helpful in a relationship. It’s not always best to “forgive and forget” in marriage, as I mention in How to Stop Worrying About Your Relationship Problems. Sometimes expressing anger is necessary resolving a problem. The short-term discomfort of an angry but honest conversation isn’t a reason relationships fail – it could actually benefit the health of the relationship in the long-term.

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.

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.

Read 5 Ways to Know If You’re Settling in a Relationship – especially if you think you deserve better.

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

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

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.

reasons relationships failIf your relationship has failed – or you’re worried about your relationship – read Getting the Love You Want: A Guide for Couples. This book has 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.

I welcome your thoughts on these ten reasons relationships fail. I can’t offer advice or counseling, but it may help you to share your experience and thoughts about relationship failure.

May you be blessed with wisdom, peace, joy, and faith.

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23 thoughts on “10 Reasons Relationships Fail

  • Laurie Post author

    There’s never just one factor that contributes to a detrimental or failed relationship. The two most common reasons relationships fail depend on the couple and their unique interaction.

  • ruiza

    It was like all my world vanishing into sorrow and pain when I read these reasons relationships fail. But your kind words when I first emailed you gave me hope. I felt how sincere, honest and authentic you were from your comments.

  • Anna

    Dear ma’am,

    My husband and I have been together for almost 13 years now, of which we’re 5 years married.
    We used to be incredibly in love, but about the last half of our relationship, things have gone south; it feels as if we’re living together as friends. Intimacy is rare between us (granted, last few months it picked up again, will get to that in a bit), and “fun times” are difficult – even makes me sick (literally) as of late. Hubby thinks and feels we’re doing good again, but he can tell I am not so sure about it.
    Over the years, he kept breaking my trust about the same promise he made; over and over again I kept having faith it’d turn out alright.
    He knows I have low self esteem, but he kept his habit going. Didn’t cheat on me, nor I on him, but I feel hurt – and I doubt it can be “fixed”. I am still with him, because of hope; hope it would get better. I am proud he managed to “quit” his ill-jokes and remarks, he knows they hurt me (am quite insecure about myself).

    Earlier this year, we moved to a new apartment, and doing so we met new people, and I found a few new friends. I came to the realization that our current relationship, living side by side, wasn’t what I wanted. I want to live, go out and about, have fun. Plenty of time to be serious and “adult”. I often visit my friends (females and males), just to be out and about, and to have a good time (watching movies together, play card games or just chat about who-knows-what) during the nights. We’re insomniacs, so that explains a bit about our odd behaviour as friends. My husband works during the week, so he’s up early. The night belongs to me.
    I begin to fear, that the trust-issue is catching up with me, the living side by side-issue as well.
    I don’t want to throw it all out of the window, but I am scared that I will either get hurt more and will feel worse in the end. I do try my best to forgive and move on, but the done damage is there; it doesn’t want to heal.

    As for the intimacy issue: I’ve been having to “force” myself to get some kind of response, even though I was not in the mood for it myself most of the time. I tried my best to keep things going, in the hope to improve our relationship.

    Do you have any advice? Anything, that could be of help?
    I feel scared, confused.. and quite lost. My mind and my heart don’t match when it comes to making a choice.. One moment it’s “We go for it!”.. and the next it’s “To hell with it!” – or a combo..

  • Laurie Post author

    Never regret the time you spent in a “bad relationship” — because you have learned so much about yourself, other people, and relationships in general. You had to go through the relationship for some reason, even if you think you stayed too long. You learned things you can’t learn other ways….so try not to spend valuable energy or time in regret.

    I’m happy to hear that Doc is moving on to a much better future, and rebuilding self-esteem! Awesome.

  • Doc

    I fell in love with a girl whom I should have broken up with after the third date. When she told me she was a “proud liberal” as opposed to middle of the road politically, like it said on a dating website I had my suspicions. I later checked the website and her profile was taken down. It wasn’t so much the political difference as the probable lie.
    After two and half years of issues surrounding items 1,4,6,7,8,9 and 10 above which included lies, manipulation, secrecy, double standards, emotional and finally physical abuse – she spit in my face at a five star restaurant because she “drank too much”, (we were not in an argument) I finally called it quits. There were many good times in the relationship but the bad was in my view really bad. I should have never spent the time I did and after realizing I had low self esteem have embarked on re-building it and moving on to a much better future.

  • Laurie Post author

    How do you feel – deep down in your gut – about your breakup? Nobody but you can decide if you did the right thing by breaking up.

    The most important thing is to look at why your relationship failed, and keep an eye on that in your next relationship. You WILL find someone new…it just takes time!

  • Suma

    I Have 2 Failed Relationships And I’m Facing A Painful Deilma That
    I’ll Never Find The Right Guy
    And Even More Painful That There’s No Hope For Me To Adopt Children.

    I Just Became a Mormon For Almost 2 Years
    Now, Did I Make A Mistake? Or Did I Do The Right Thing?

  • Laurie

    Hi Christine,

    What kind of help do you want from me? That is, do you want to know why your relationship is failing, or do you want to change your husband? How do you want your life to be different? How can I help you change your life?


  • Laurie

    Dear Janet,

    Why is your boyfriend always asking you to pay for dinner? Knowing the reason may help you decide if your relationship is worth saving.

  • Christine

    My boyfriend or should I say husband more like we’ve been together for about 7years we have 3 kids together , well my question is every time I have a children with him is when I feel the worst because I know he cheats and at one time he gave me a STD and I just keep taking him back he constantly watching porn like way to much and he lies so much and I’m certain of it when I go threw his phone and approach him on it he never has anything to say I hope u get what I’m asking and can help please …

  • Maryann

    My husband swears at me when I make him mad. He makes false statments in front of my kids. He yells and yells and yells I feel broken

  • Beth

    I don’t see a response to Tyy20… and I just can’t NOT respond.

    Sweetie – it has been almost a month since you wrote. I hope you are getting the RSS feed to this article! You are NOT in a marriage and you need to RUN. What you are getting from your husband is considered abuse. He may not be physically abusing you, but he is not a candidate for marriage at this point in his life. He has some growing up to do, and you cannot fix him.

    It is far better to admit you’ve made a mistake NOW than to suffer for years and lose yourself in this pain and abuse.

    Since he is military, go to the on base support team and have them help you extricate yourself from this. You have a huge and wonderful life ahead of you, don’t toss it away because you had sex with this man and mistook it for love or commitment.

    Please find a good therapist and work through your issues. We all have issues, so there’s no shame in getting help. Find out why you are willing to put up with this treatment. Find out what you can do to heal your insecurities (again, we ALL have those in some form or another.) Find out how you can grow and become the woman you are meant to be.

    Once you get those things worked on, the RIGHT man will show up in your life. Consider this a lesson and a blessing. You thought you had one thing and it turns out you had another. Your “husband” needs a lot of help as well, but this isn’t your job. You aren’t a trained therapist and he needs one before he can commit to being a good husband and eventual father.

    Be grateful you haven’t gotten pregnant yet. Please do NOT get pregnant at this point. It will complicate matters and make it harder for you to move on with your life.

    God bless you!

  • Tyy20

    My husband and are young. Weve only been married about a month and a half. I ended up with an STI and cannot trust him. When I told him and it was from him, he started telling me about females he slept with while we were at the start of our friendship building a foundation for our relationship. This all came out after we got married sbout the girls and the STI. I know I love him and want us to work but it will take some time. I am not ready to forgive him just yet. He is in the military and comes home tomorrow. He told me he is staying at his friends house not with me. He also asked ” So you dont have urges”? like to be with other people. One night we got into an argument and he said he didnt want to hear the ignorant stupid stuff i have to say. Our marriage is failing and Im really considering leaving. He doesnt want a divorce but I just dont feel like my husband loves me. Its like he did anything to be with me now that Im here he is way too comfortable and doesnt care how i feel. I feel like im stuck in between my love for him and how i would feel if i just gave up on our marriage because i truly care. Deep down i know he will never change. I care so much that Im going to counseling to talk to someone about my issues and how to work on a better me to fix myself as a wife. I write my thoughts at night and i even look at info or advice on the internet for ideas on how to better our marriage and I even take notes on some ways to better understand men and marriage. Can you please help? I know Im young but I truly love this man and i need some outside help. Thank you

  • Nana

    my boyfriend who caused me pain wants a come back. i said no but later realised i still love him. my parents are not in favour of my relationship with him. am a confused person now cos i still love him. what do i do?

  • Laurie Post author

    The best way to make amends for saying or doing something you regret is to apologize from the bottom of your heart, and insist that you didn’t mean it! Sometimes spouses forgive and forget; other times it’s the reason a relationship fails.

    But, we have to give each other room to make mistakes and say things we regret. That’s part of a good marriage – allowing and forgiving mistakes.

  • carlos

    Me and my wife had a really bad argument and she got me mad I snap saying that I didn’t love her anymore I really regret saying that I mess up big time please help me

  • Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen Post author

    You may also find this article helpful – it doesn’t explain why couples break up, but it may help you move on:

    How to Let Go of Someone You Love

  • Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen Post author

    Dear Stella,

    I am so sorry that your relationship with your boyfriend didn’t work out. It’s heartbreaking, and you feel like you’ll never get over it. I don’t know what relationship problems you and he faced, but I do know that this happened for a reason! You have to trust that you and he weren’t meant to be.

    I wrote this article for you:

    How to Cope When the Man You Love is Marrying Someone Else

    I hope it helps, and wish you all the best as you heal and move on.


  • stella hundeyin

    I just found out dat the guy I’ve been dating for four years is getting married to someone else, I love him so much and I have been crying cuz I don’t know what to do. I am so confuse and my heart is really hurting,I feel like dieing. Pls help me.

  • Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen

    Dear May,

    Thanks for your comment and question – it’s a good one! It sounds like your boyfriend is taking advantage of you, and trying to manipulate you into lending him more money.

    Of course he gets angry when you say no — and say no you should! You’re not his banker or money lender…you shouldn’t lend him more money to gamble away. Not only will he not pay you back, you’re also contributing to his gambling problem. And yes, he has a gambling problem! If he has to borrow money to gamble, it’s a problem.

    I wrote this article for you:

    How to Stay No to Your Boyfriend – Be Strong, Savvy, Sexy!

    I hope it helps, and welcome your thoughts here or there.


  • may

    i have a question..did i do the right thing?? my boyfriend ask me to borrow him a money but i said no in a negative thing. because i was shocked when he ask me yesterday. i already lend him a big amount a week ago and now hes asking me to lend him again knowing that he used it to gamble.he is angry to me he thinks that i dont believe him and i only like money. what do u think about this?