How To Overcome The 10 Biggest Reasons Relationships End
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Your love life is not a statistic.
When two people come together to form a new relationship, there are a myriad of circumstances to consider.
You each bring to the table a different background, worldview, set of values, and perspective.
You also each bring your own past experiences and the assumptions that come along with them.
Sometimes this works out for the better, others, not so much.
But, you don’t have to take a blind gamble every time. You can learn from lessons of the past in order to enter into your relationship more intentionally and with clearer eyes.
Here are 10 major reasons relationships end, and what you can do to avoid them:
1: You expected them to be your source of happiness.
A lot of people are seeking external validation in one form or another. They think when they can buy that purse, or suit, or car, or house — they’ll finally be happy.
Similarly, many think that when they finally find ‘the one’ all of their loneliness and insecurities will fade away.
What this does is put an unrealistic amount of pressure on your partner and your relationship itself. A relationship is supposed to enhance your happiness, not be the sole source of it.
The key: The most important thing any of us can do before entering into a relationship is to build a life and an identity that we love for ourselves. This way, we are not bound to the love or approval of someone else in order to feel good about who we are. We already feel whole, and bring that confidence to the table.
It also helps us to maintain our standards because we won’t settle just for the sake of being with someone if they don’t enhance our happiness in some way.
You don’t need for someone else to complete you — just someone who accepts you completely.
2: You have different priorities in life.
Have you ever gotten down the road of a relationship and eventually start asking yourself if you even want the same things out of life?
If two people are on completely different paths, obviously they will eventually diverge, rather than converge.
Just like two lines that are ever-so-slightly pointed away from each other, if you follow them down a long enough timeline, they eventually separate further and further.
The key: Have honest discussions in your relationship early on about what each of you want and where you see your life going as an individual. Sometimes in the beginning of a relationship we get caught up in the lust, romance, and excitement of how this person makes us feel and the chemistry that we share together — but we don’t stop and have the serious conversations about whether or not we are really on similar paths.
Broaching these topics early on can save you major heartbreak down the road.
3: Your standards are TOO high.
I am the first person to tell a client that they need to raise their standards and stop settling for less than they deserve.
I am also the first person to make sure that they’re not expecting perfection or a level of conduct that is simply unrealistic to maintain.
We are influenced by social media posts and sappy TV shows and movies, and we create an image in our mind about what the “ideal” relationship is going to look and feel like.
And then, we get frustrated when it doesn’t seem to come true.
“Why can’t that happen to me?!”
Well, maybe you’re expecting too much from people, and not allowing for the human element that every relationship has to consider.
The key: Make a list of your wants vs. your needs. Clearly defining what it is that you really need in a relationship will help open your mind to new ways of getting it.
It may not come in the “package” you expected. It might not happen at the time, or place, or in the way that you hoped for. But — what’s important is that you remain open to receiving what is right for you when it comes along.
4: Harboring trust issues.
Trust is something that must be earned, and then it must be maintained.
I believe that anyone worth your emotional investment will put in the work to show you that they can be trusted. They will also be willing to trust you in return.
Here’s the thing — if you (or they) bring past emotional trauma or distrust to your new relationship, it can damage things before they even have a chance to be established.
If an old partner cheated, or was dishonest, or betrayed you — that cannot be projected onto your new partner (as long as they are innocent).
The key: Really work to identify why there is a lack of trust and where it stems from.
If your partner actually did something to lose your trust, then your feelings are completely warranted. But, if not, then they’re being unfairly judged and classified with a label that they don’t deserve.
This will create distance between the two of you as your partner feels your lack of presence and openness.
It’s very important to be willing to trust someone new — and even more important to be clear about whether or not they’ve stepped up to the plate and earned it.
Only when you judge this specific person’s actions, will you know how to move forward…or not.
5: Communication barriers.
Lack of communication is perhaps the #1 reason why relationships fail (aside from financial struggles or arguments).
There is a plethora of reasons why barriers can come between our ability to communicate, some of which even outlined here (ie., lack of trust).
Maybe one (or both) of you refuse to apologize or admit when you’re wrong.
Maybe you’re holding a grudge about something in the past and aren’t bringing it up.
Maybe your partner wasn’t raised in a family that talked about their feelings and now they’re uncomfortable doing so.
Whatever the reason(s), a lack of communication puts a wall up between two partners and completely divides them.
The key: There’s no simple solution to this except that you need to be willing and able to have the difficult conversations with your partner. You each need to figure out the best ways to give and receive feedback given your personalities, and then stay true to them without getting angry or hurtful.
Remember that communication isn’t just verbal, and that body language also plays a huge role in how you read each other.
Sometimes, you’ll need to be the one to apologize first, or address a frustration or concern. If you master the art of doing this in a non-aggressive way that allows you both to approach the discussion reasonably, you’ll have a much better chance at long term success.
6: Different levels of growth.
I personally believe that a commitment to self improvement is important part of living a fulfilling life.
This means living a (relatively) healthy lifestyle, improving your fitness, mindset, education, and connection to the world around you. It means contributing to society in some way and benefiting your community.
Imagine, now, that one person is fully dedicated to this type of growth, while the other is perfectly content living a mundane and vanilla lifestyle.
Neither is “better” or “worse” objectively speaking, but they simply do not mesh well with each other and will eventually have one partner outgrowing the other.
The key: Here’s the hard truth — you cannot change who someone is at their core. If you need any more proof of this, just think of how hard it is to change yourself at your core.
There are times in some relationships when you need to take a clear look at whether or not you and your partner are a good fit for each other based on the lifestyles you want to live, and then you need to decide how much of a divide you’re willing to tolerate.
If you outgrow them for too long, though, the gap between you will simply be too large to fill.
7: Lack of effort.
We live in a world of instant gratification. We can open our phones and essentially get anything done in a matter of minutes. We can pay bills, order food, get a dopamine hit from checking Instagram notifications, or even find ourselves a date.
Relationships simply do not work the same way.
They don’t spark to life overnight and magically maintain themselves forever. They take consistent care, love, and effort.
I’ve said before that maintaining a relationship is similar to stoking a fire. You need to light it, give it time to grow into flames, and then consistently stoke it for as long as you want it to burn.
If you walk out of the room and leave it alone, sooner than later, it’s going to burn out.
The key: Think of building a relationship the same way you would any other area of life.
If you want to achieve a fitness goal, you put in the effort it takes to get it done.
If you want to earn that promotion, you develop the skills and dedicate your energy to it.
The same goes for any healthy relationship — it requires work (but shouldn’t feel like work) and only the people willing to put in the time and energy will be privileged to enjoy the rewards.
8: It gets stale and mundane.
If you think adventure is dangerous, try routine. It’s lethal! — Paolo Coelho
I understand that life gets in the way, and obligations can take the place of excitement. Bills, work, kids, chores — sometimes the days blend together and fly by like a giant blur.
We stop doing the little romantic things for our partner and think that we can slow down on the effort we put into the relationship because, hey, they’re committed to us anyway!
Well, not so fast.
Nobody wants to feel taken for granted, and nobody wants to feel overlooked, unloved, or unattractive.
However, that’s exactly what happens when we allow the routines of our lives to overrun the passion of it. Life is simply too short to fall into a rut and allow ourselves to stay there.
The key: Make a mutual commitment with your partner to keep the flame burning, whatever it takes. Schedule a date night every week. Be the first one to start leaving love notes, or sending cute texts, or write lists of what you appreciate about them.
Start conversations other than just the normal routine everyday things you’ve talked about 5,000 times.
Heat things up in the bedroom. Or living room. Or dining room.
Whatever it takes, never stop dating the person you love. The same effort it took to get them is what it will take to keep them.
9: The timing is wrong.
I used to say: There’ll be no ‘wrong timing’ if it’s the ‘right person.’
Then, I learned that was utter nonsense.
You can absolutely meet the right person at the wrong time. It’s very difficult to admit, but doing so can save you a lot of pain.
Let’s say, for example, you meet someone you are completely infatuated with. They’re charming, smart, funny, sociable, intelligent, and show a lot of depth — but, they’re in the process of going through a messy divorce.
The first risk is that you’re simply a rebound for them. The next, is that you’re looking at a long road of legal battles and controversy that will take up most of their attention. So on, and so forth.
But, you push forward anyway. You’re convinced you can make it work, and for awhile, it does.
Then, one day, they have a conversation with you about how they never got to be single after getting divorced and really need to figure out who they are before they get into something serious.
You feel blindsided — but, were you, really?
Deep down, you probably knew this was going to happen someday, you just didn’t want to admit it to yourself.
You knew the timing of your relationship played a big role in its success.
Perhaps if you’d met each other at another time, it would’ve worked out.
The key: As the old saying goes: “Follow your heart, but take your brain with you.”
Do your best to see the situation clearly and be sure to openly communicate where you’re both at in life and what you’re looking for in your relationship. If you do this early and do it often, you’ll have a consistent idea of where you both stand and be able to remain clearheaded about the decisions you make.
10: You are simply not compatible.
Here’s one of the hardest things to accept about relationships: Sometimes, it just doesn’t work out.
It doesn’t mean someone did something wrong. It doesn’t mean someone is “better” or “worse.” It doesn’t mean that anyone is at fault — it could simply be that the two of you were not compatible.
There are four types of compatibility in relationships: Physical, emotional, intellectual, and spiritual.
If you’re too far apart in too many of these areas, you’ll think and act in ways that conflict with one another on a fundamental level and may not be reconcilable.
The key: Total honesty with yourself about how you fit together in these 4 areas. You don’t need to have all four all the time, but it’s easy to see how only having one or two nailed down can cause a lot of conflict in the remaining ones.
It’s important to not feel guilt or shame when incompatibility is the cause of a relationship ending. You both did the best you could, but you cannot fit a round peg into a square hole.
Trust me, I’ve tried.
I originally published this article on Medium.
Finding success in creating hundreds of viral articles and videos on building limitless confidence and healthier relationships, James has accumulated over 38 million visitors to his website and a collective social media following of over 400,000.
James speaks at live events and in the media across the U.S. and has become a go-to expert with outlets such as CNN, Bravo, The New York Post, The Huffington Post, The Daily Beast, CNBC, The Boston Globe, CBS, and more.
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