Why Did He Leave? 12 Possible Explanations


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You’ve been there before: Befuddled as to the reasoning when someone who you thought loved you is sitting across from you telling you that it’s over.

Maybe, even more confusingly, they’re still telling you that they love you.

How in the hell does that make any sense?

Growing up, my dating life was like a minefield. At any time I could easily step on an explosion of “you’re the perfect guy…just not perfect for me.”

I never understood it. If I was so great, why did I keep failing when it came to dating?

What I couldn’t grasp in my young age was the complexity of human needs and wants. The endless list of feelings that run through us at any given time, dictating whether or not we want someone else as a partner — let alone the weight of spending a lifetime with them.

I’ve heard it time and time again from clients: Stories of men who walked away from (seemingly) happy relationships, and the confusion that ensued.

In this article, my mission is to shine some light on the underlying reasons why he might’ve left, and why love simply is not enough to make him (or anyone) stay.

1: He’s never figured out what he really wanted (needed).

I believe that many, many people (men and women alike) completely brush over this part of their lives without giving it a second thought.

What is it that you really need? Not just in a partner, but in a life? What’s going to make you fulfilled? What’s going to give you comfort, peace, and solace?

Most people simply accept what life brings them, rather than going out and proactively creating it.

This, inevitably, permeates our relationships as well.

Someone comes along who gives us attention, or is perhaps introduced by a friend or family member. One date turns into 5, to 10, to the mutual understanding that someday you’re going to get married — and then, you do.

If you hadn’t taken the time before you met this person to really define what it is you needed from a partner and a relationship, you may very well be committing your life to someone who’s not right for you.

It’ll work for a little while as you overlook the small things, or ignore the feelings for the sake of commitment…but you’ll know deep in your soul that you’re on the wrong path.

Some men (and women) just suck it up for their whole lives. They figure it’s too late to turn back now, or you’ve built a family together and it’s just too complicated to leave. Or one person makes all of the money and the other feels trapped.

Some, though, do make the decision to leave.

While it comes as a shock to their partner, they know that in their heart they’ve been wrestling with this decision for weeks, months, or even years, and have finally hit a breaking point.

Before you commit to someone, make sure you’ve got a deep and detailed understanding of the type of “someone” who will make you the happiest.

2: The pressure was too much.

I’m not saying that you pressured him, or that there was any intentional force put on him — but that the pressures of life are not to be minimized.

Everyone handles stress differently, and the prospect of forever with someone comes with many caveats.

For example, if you’ve decided to have children, the U.S. Department of Agriculture surmised that the average cost of raising a child to the age of 18 is $233,610. In case you’re wondering, that’s per child.


That doesn’t account for a mortgage, health insurance, car payments, family vacations, electrical bills, food…all expenses that, while you take on together as a team, can easily become exorbitant.

Let me make something clear here: There’s no excuse for bailing on responsibilities that you’ve committed to.

If someone walks away from you just because it’s “too much,” it’s a bullshit excuse.

But, this article is not supposed to justify or give credence to any reasons for leaving, it’s simply here to explain what they might’ve been. And the truth is, that some men leave because things are just too overwhelming.

My personal belief is that entering into a lifelong commitment with someone means making the pledge to take on these challenges together. You split expenses, pick up a side gig, cut back on frivolous spending, and you do what it takes to make it work.

Getting up and walking away when things get tough is a quitter’s mentality, and quitters have no place making lifelong commitments to another person.

3: He didn’t feel significant.

This concept always ruffles a few feathers, but hear me out:

Men want to feel needed.

This doesn’t mean that they want you to be some helpless damsel in distress. What it does mean, is that he wants to know he’s contributing real value to your life and the relationship.

In a time where women have excelled beyond men in many areas (education, career, earnings…), some men are left feeling confused about where they fit into the puzzle.

It’s going to take men awhile to evolve into the understanding that their contribution doesn’t have to be financial.

It’s about emotional support, encouragement, empathy, conversation, connection — love.

Men play a significant role in your life in many different ways, but not all of them are able to understand that, and therefore feel insignificant if they’re not contributing in the ways that they’re used to.

The truth is that he probably doesn’t need much in this area, but he does need something. Responsibilities, jobs to do, tasks to perform, ways to know that he’s doing something to make your life easier.

And, he also needs appreciation — not to feed his ego, but to know that his efforts are being recognized, which in turn will make him feel good about all of it.

If you think this sounds like a child needing praise for doing the right thing…well, you probably have a point…

But, our human need for significance is universal, and if we’re not feeling it somewhere, we tend to look for it elsewhere.

4: He’s having an identity crisis.

Some people’s entire lives are an identity crisis.

There’s a big reason why most of my private coaching is focused on identity development: Just like most people haven’t figured out what they want and need (point #1), most people also haven’t figured out who they even are.

Your values, beliefs, worldview, perspectives…all of the things that make you, well…you.

Oftentimes, people tie their identity to their career, or business, or relationship — they are an executive. They’re a parent. They’re an athlete.

While these things may be true, they are not the fundamental root of who you are as a human being.

You were you before you were any of those other things, and if someday you lose that job, or when your child grows up and moves out, or if you get injured and can’t renew your NFL contract…what happens to your identity then?

This is why developing a strong core of your identity and purpose is a fundamental piece of living a fulfilling life.

It remains steady while everything around you changes.

Sometimes men have a tendency to tie their identity to their relationship. They become reliant on your validation, and make decisions solely for the purpose of keeping the peace or making you happy.

While I do believe that our partner’s happiness should be at the top of our priority list, I do not believe it should be put above our own mental or physical wellbeing.

If a man loses sight of who he is, one day he will wake up and feel the weight of it. He may not always know what to do — as most of our boys and men are never taught about the concept of identity or fulfillment.

Unsurprisingly, this may become confusing for him and he could feel like he needs to break out, explore, or venture out on his own to rediscover himself.

The difficult truth about this is it’s probably better for both of you in the long run — because being with a person who doesn’t know who they are is going to be the source of many a conflict and heartache down the road.

5: He felt disrespected.

We don’t talk about it often, but similar to significance, men have a deep-rooted need for respect.

Before you rush to the comment section telling me you’re not going to be subservient to your man to show him respect, hear me out for a second.

Respect in a relationship needs to be mutual. Respect is about valuing each other (we’ll get into this more later). Respect is about taking opinions into consideration, it’s about making plans together, it’s about encouragement, open communication, listening, valuing each other’s time…

Respecting someone is not about putting them above you, it’s about seeing them as your equal and treating them as such.

The need for respect is universal. It plays a role in all areas of life. If he doesn’t feel respected at work, he’s going to seek a new job or sink into his seat while he stays at the current one. If he doesn’t feel respected by his friends, he’s going to find new ones or stop hanging out with the old ones.

The need for respect is not about you, it’s about something inside of him that wants to feel valued.

6: He felt rushed.

Let’s be clear — being rushed and feeling rushed are two different things.

Women need (and should be encouraged to) move at their own pace in a relationship. To open up emotionally and physically when they are ready. To go as quickly or as slowly as the need to…

We don’t, however, usually talk about how this need is mutual, and men need to be comfortable moving at their own pace as well. Transitioning from “single life” to being committed, to then possibly marrying someone forever, is a hefty consideration that takes time to move through and process.

I’ll reiterate, this does not mean that you or anyone else actually rushed him, but if he feels rushed by the process, he might step into it reluctantly, and sooner than he is ready.

Over time this lack of readiness could stick with him, and he’ll always feel behind or pressured.

He’ll feel like he has no idea what he’s doing and every day will be a struggle.

He’ll question whether or not this was even his idea, or someone else’s.

His mind could run away from him. We all know how that feels.

The real challenge ensues when he begins to pull back as a reaction to feeling rushed. You will find yourself more emotionally invested than he is. You’ll be looking further into the future than he is. You’ll be ready for more steps forward before he is.

You both need to discuss the pace that you’re comfortable moving at so you can make sure you’re both ready to step forward together.

After all, there’s no sense in rushing something that you want to last forever.

7: He felt taken for granted.

Earlier I made a comment that we’d explore more about feeling valued in a relationship — and the opposite of feeling valued, is feeling taken for granted.

I believe that good men want to give endlessly to the woman in their lives. They want to provide, protect, make her happy, do romantic things for her…

But — what they DON’T want, is to feel like those efforts are overlooked or unnoticed.

I’ve said before that gratitude is the fuel that fills the tank of kindness.

Everyone has limits, no matter how kind, or giving, or selfless — they will eventually question whether or not their actions have impact if they’re not being recognized.

No, this doesn’t mean they’re doing it for the sake of reward…

It means they have a basic human need to feel appreciated.

Don’t take my word for it, though — there is formal research done on the need for gratitude in relationships.

Self-respecting men won’t stay with someone who doesn’t value them. And, neither should you.

8: You grew apart.

Everyone changes — but not everyone grows.

And, people who do grow don’t necessarily grow in the same directions.

Making a lifelong commitment to someone is betting on the fact that you’re going to grow together as individuals, and as a couple, over the years.

Not all bets win, though.

And sometimes, people get lazy or stagnant. Maybe it was you, maybe it was him…maybe it was both of you.

The point here is that you’re not going to be the same people in 10 years that you are today. You’re definitely (hopefully) not the same people you were 10 years ago.

You go through different experiences, your perspectives change, your circumstances in life change…

Sometimes, the brutal truth is that you just become two different people who are no longer compatible with each other.

It doesn’t mean one is good and one is bad, or one is right and one is wrong…it just means you’re too different for the relationship to work in harmony.

9: You stopped prioritizing each other.

Believe me — I get it.

Even before Rachel and I got married we had this house, the two kids, our separate businesses, life goals, responsibilities…

It’s a lot to make sure you fit in regular date nights on a consistent basis.

Let alone looking down the road another 10, 20, 30, 50 years…

Time together must be a priority, though. Even The Journal of Marriage and Family has reported that there’s less stress and greater happiness within couples who spend regular quality time together.

Let’s be honest, though…you didn’t need a study to tell you that.

Knowing something and putting it into practice are two different things, though.

Failing to make time for each other as a couple is a surefire recipe to create distance and disconnect between you. If that disconnection goes untreated for too long, it may someday become too great to remedy.

10: You stopped being intimate.

Yes, I’m talking about sex. But, not JUST sex…

Intimacy goes far deeper than sex into emotional connection. Intimacy is shown when you hold hands in the grocery store, cuddle up on the couch, hug each other when you get home from work…

Intimacy is in those small moments that happen multiple times throughout the day. And, yes, it’s in sex, too.

But the sex is a reflection of intimacy. It happens as a result of that connection which is cultivated through the small sparks.

If those sparks fade or stop happening…so will the sex.

As the physical connection fades, so will the emotional.

We all have the need for intimacy in multiple forms within a relationship, and if that need goes unmet for too long, you may lose each other completely.

11: He’s exhausted.

I’ve worked with clients in the past who find themselves consistently bickering with their wives. They’re always disagreeing on things, or being criticized, or feeling stressed out.

As I said before, life is long.

Some ingredients, when mixed together, simply do not go well.

This happens with people, too.

And, trying to mush them together into a delicious recipe over and over again, for years, can become exhausting.

Sometimes you’ve got to look at the ingredients and understand that they’re better being separate, or you’ll wear yourself down to nothing trying to force it to work.

Eventually one (or both) partners need to ask if there is more joy or sadness present in the relationship, and then they need to be honest about the answer.

12: The flame burned out.

I know, this one hurts.

None of these are easy to hear, but the thought of someone who once loved you no longer doing so is a painful one.

The only solace I can offer is that this doesn’t mean it’s about you.

It doesn’t mean you became less lovable.

It doesn’t mean you’re boring.

It doesn’t mean you’re unattractive.

Sometimes, feelings just change. People become unhappy with themselves, or their lives, or their routines. They look around and feel like they’re not being true to themselves or to their partners.

They grow and change and experience different things.

Let’s make sure we discuss something important about this:

One does not just “fall out of love” on a whim.

The feeling doesn’t instantly disappear, but instead, gradually fades over time…if it’s not being nurtured.

Just like keeping a fire burning, you must tend to your love consistently in order to keep it alive. If you leave it alone for too long, it’ll inevitably burn out.

So while feelings do change, I also believe that making a pledge to spend your life with someone means that you’ll address problems in order to solve them.

Not communicating properly? Take steps to have a conversation and learn how to do it better. Talk to a marriage counselor. Express your concerns.

Not being intimate? Do something romantic for your partner or make time in your schedule to connect, just the two of you.

Men are notorious for being terrible communicators, but I don’t think that’s universally true. I believe when men feel safe expressing themselves to you, they will open up more over time.

This healthy level of communication is a non-negotiable part of keeping two people together forever.

You must be able to speak freely when things are good and bad.

You must feel safe expressing your feelings without worrying about judgment.

You must be willing to fix what is broken rather than just throwing it away.

TRUE dedication to another person means refusing to give up on them. It means finding or creating ways to make it work. It means finding solutions to your challenges.

Obviously if there is abuse, mistreatment, or betrayal — this voids the agreement and you need to have enough self-respect to walk away.

If you’re just facing “regular, everyday” relationship challenges, though…the first instinct shouldn’t be “well, that’s that.”

You must fight for what (and who) you love. You must honor the commitment you made to them. You must be certain about the choice you are making before you make it, so you’ll do what it takes to reinforce that decision over the years.

You must continue to stoke the flame.

If you do…it will never burn out.

Subscribe to my newsletter “The Next Level” for honest and uncensored advice normally reserved for private clients.

James Michael Sama is an internationally recognized speaker, author, and personal development coach.

Finding success in creating hundreds of viral articles and videos on building limitless confidence and healthier relationships, James has accumulated over 39 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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