Relationships > Breakups > 10 Most Common Reasons Couples Break Up

10 Most Common Reasons Couples Break Up

These are the ten most common types of relationship problems that cause couples to break up. Not every reason automatically leads to a breakup, but the combination of two or more problems almost guarantees a relationship failure.

Few people start a relationship expecting that it’ll fall apart. Most of us are attracted to a potential partner (sometimes immediately, sometimes as time passes), fall in love (quickly or slowly), and decide to commit to a long-term relationship. Sometimes we even get married. The last thing we’re thinking about – or looking for – are reasons to break up.

If we started a relationship knowing the reasons why couples break up, we increase our chances of building a happy, healthy, long-term life together. Further, if we know the reasons for most breakups, we then have insight into why breaking up is so hard to do. This can help us heal a broken heart, whether it’s our own or someone close to us.

In the beginning – when we fall in love as a new couple – everything is more or less perfect. We idealize our partners, overlook problems and allow irritations to slide by. We keep our eyes half-shut and avoid looking at potential pitfalls. We even ignore personality differences, values clashes, and different beliefs. This is the honeymoon phase…and it doesn’t last as long as the honeymoon itself!

During the honeymoon phase, the last thing we’re thinking about is how to get out of the “couples mindset” after a breakup.

10 Reasons Why Couples Break Up

“It is not a lack of love, but a lack of friendship that makes unhappy marriages.” ~ Fredrich Nietzsche.

These ten reasons why couples break up are from Dr Roger Hock’s textbook Human Sexuality. He is a professor of psychology and human sexuality at Mendocino College in northern California.

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. A power imbalance – real or perceived

Common Reasons Couples Break Up
10 Reasons Why Couples Break Up

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 (although in different ways).

3. Acceptance of relationship stereotypes

This was once a more common reason why couples break up, 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.

For example, a relationship stereotype is that husbands are more likely than wives to prioritize work over family. The truth is that either a husband or a wife will put work first. It’s no longer a gender issue.

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

Couples break up 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 couples break up

“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 or abusive physical behavior

A surprising number of men and women stay in abusive relationships, which is why this isn’t the number one reason why couples break up. Physical, intimate, and emotional abuse in a relationship is complicated. Neither partner may understand the reasons they’re treating each other the way they do; both partners may want the relationship to be over but don’t know how to move on. It’s is a very complicated issue, and not the number one reason for a breakup.

What do you think – did any of these reasons surprise you? What is missing from this list? Your thoughts are welcome below…


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29 thoughts on “10 Most Common Reasons Couples Break Up”

  1. Sometimes, people find themselves literally LOCKED in a relationship, and the only way out is to leave everything and EVERYONE behind!!! Narcissism, that word, i despise BUT I have learnt A LOT from my narcissistic relationship!! Do yourself a favour and please leave that narcissist behind!!!!!!

  2. Couples who break up do so for different reasons. I think the reasons couples stay together even though the relationship is terrible is because of low self-esteem and low self-confidence.

  3. I think the biggest reason is Breaking promises, lying, cheating in relationships. because lot of my friend also separate from their lover because that reason.

  4. There is no greater glory than love, nor any greater punishment than jealousy. ~ Lope de Vega obtained from
    Jealousy Quotes

  5. Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen

    Dear Celeste,

    On one hand, it’s very sad that your relationship is over. The relationship problems have been going on for a long time, which means that you may want to stand by him and support him through thick and thin….but love doesn’t conquer all. I wish it did, but love alone doesn’t make relationships better.

    On the other hand, it’s exciting that you’re now free! I know it doesn’t seem exciting — your heart is broken and you’re still mourning the end of your relationship. But, the past 7 years haven’t been wasted: you learned and grew and loved him.

    I think you need to be strong enough to let him go. He doesn’t see marriage with you, and you can’t do all the work that a relationship takes by yourself! You have to be strong and courageous, my friend. You have to move on.

    You’re a generous, loving, kind woman who deserves a generous, loving, kind man. Don’t waste another 7 years (or another 7 days) reaching for something that isn’t good for you!

    You might find this helpful:

    How to Let Go of Someone You Love

    I hope you are ready to begin the work of healing and starting a new, exciting chapter of your life!