Of course, every couple is unique. The longer two people shared their lives together, the more likely it is for complex factors to be involved. The list of reasons below is not meant to be comprehensive. They simply represent some of the most common and damaging factors behind relational dissolution.
Lack or loss of trust is one of the most harmful contagions to a couple’s long-term success. Without trust, a relationship misses two of the key anchors to a strong bond: safety and security.
Trust issues may comprise of the following factors such as jealousy, possessiveness, unreasonable inflexibility, emotional infidelity, physical/sexual infidelity, relational game playing, lack of reliability and dependability, lack of emotional support, lack of financial compatibility, and lack of mutually-supportive goals.
If you believe trust is a major flaw in your relationship (or was in your former relationship), examine whether the lack of trust is based on a pattern of evidence (such as significant broken promises), or mostly subjective emotions (such as jealousy without proof). Consider honestly whether the lack of trust is based on tangible substance or unjustified fears.
“Never allow someone to be your priority while allowing yourself to be their option.” ― Mark Twain
It’s not pretty easy for a couple to walk through a journey and sustain a relationship for a long time. The elements that frequently draw two people toward one-another at the beginning of a relationship – physical attraction, sexual passion, common interests, personality connections, socio-economic backgrounds – often become less central as the realities and demands of day to day life set in.
Overtime, a couple’s expectations in the relationship may differentiate, as they begin to see their respective life plans as “what I want,” instead of “what we want.”
Differences in Priorities:
Your partner has different priorities and expectations regarding the relationship.
For some, the significant-other relationship (and family) is the primary center of gravity of life. Nothing else comes close in its importance.
For others, a romantic relationship, even a committed one, is but one facet of life. There are many other aspects of life which, in their perspective, can justifiably take higher priority.
Moving Through Life at Different Speeds:
When one partner is learning and growing at a rapid pace, while the other is stagnating, this may be a source of relational divergence. One example of this would be a partner advancing quickly in her career and society, while her significant other is stagnating at home.
The professional and social circles of the couple begin to diverge, and soon the couple themselves differentiate. They have physically, intellectually, and socially grown apart.
This is a big one. Numerous studies have identified communication (or a lack thereof) as one of the top reasons for couples’ therapy, as well as one of the top reasons for break-up and divorce.
Contempt, the opposite of respect, is often expressed via negative judgment, criticism, or sarcasm regarding the worth of an individual. In communication studies, this is known as being “tough on the person, soft on the issue”. Contemptuous communication works like poison – it destroys the health and well-being of a romantic relationship.
The Mayo Clinic research group defines narcissistic personality disorder as “a mental disorder in which people have an inflated sense of their own importance and a deep need for admiration.” Narcissism is often marked by a lack of true intimacy in relationship.
Signs of narcissism may include (and are not limited to) superiority complex, grandiose self-image, entitlement, conceit, boundary violations, false charm, the Don Juan syndrome, manipulation, irresponsibility, rule breaking, extreme selfishness, negative emotions, and contempt towards others. Significantly, research indicates that high narcissism is correlated with susceptibility to infidelity.
For the purpose of this writing, relational abuse is defined as the repeated mistreatment of an individual. Examples of relational abuse include: Verbal, emotional, physical, and/or sexual abuse. Pathological manipulation. Pathological Narcissism. Pathological passive-aggressiveness.
Life Habit Abuse:
Life habit abuses are traits which, although may or may not directly involve the partner (such as a secret gambling addiction), may ultimately affect the relationship in a destructive way. Examples of life habit abuse include: Drug addiction. Alcohol addiction. Gambling addiction. Sexual addiction.
Grown Apart, Boredom, Staleness, Rut:
If any of the four terms written above resonates with your relationship experience, there are a couple of elements to consider:
If you have been in a relationship for two years or less, and you and your partner have “grown apart”, it could be due to a lack of commitment, different expectations, lack of compatibility, or the natural process of trial and error in mate-finding.
If you are in a long-term relationship, it is possible that life obligations (such as school, work, and especially child-rearing) got in the way of couple connectedness and mutual evolvement.
A classic example is the “empty nest” syndrome, where after all the children have grown and left home, the parents suddenly feel like strangers to one-another, having not focused on each another for so many years.
The longer a couple has been together in a committed relationship, the greater the possibility of financial incompatibility.
According to research, differences over money is one of the top reasons for marital dissolution. A couple also doesn’t need to be married to have money challenges.
Money issues and disputes tap into some of our deepest psychological needs and fears, including and not limited to trust, safety, security, power, control, and survival.