Break downs in relationships are traumatic, draining, and at times down right debilitating but they’re also normal.
Sadly (and sometimes not so sadly, depending on the relationship) breaking up with a partner is just a part of life that all of us need to navigate at some point on our journey to find “the one”. Often though, we find ourselves repeating the same relationship mistakes over and over again without even knowing it.
Speaking with Dr David Keatly, Doctor of Psychology of the School and Psychology and Speech Pathology at Curtin University, we’ve complied a list of some of the most common reasons why your relationship might be failing
1. Lack of commitment
Many couples experience difficulty when one partner feels the other doesn’t commit to them in the way they want them to.
Dr Keatly explains: “(In a relationship)we are forced to ask ourselves about our own investment. If it is not being matched, we may feel foolish for spending so much. If we spend years hopelessly putting everything into a relationship, and the other person seems careless about it, we feel foolish or betrayed, or let down.”
If you’re the one reluctant to commit to a partner, ask yourself why you’re hesitant to fully engage as a couple. What’s holding you back? It might be something from your past, it may be timing or it could just be that you’re not feeling the relationship is heading in the direction you want it to.
For a relationship to function properly, each person needs to provide the same level of commitment to each other in order for both people to feel secure. So if you’re concerned about your partners level of commitment to your relationship, voice your concerns and discuss why you’re feeling the way you are.
2. Basing your happiness on your partner
Allowing your partner to be responsible for all of your happiness is a dangerous zone. Of course a partner contributes to you feeling happy, but losing sight of yourself in the relationship and delegating one person that responsibility places unfair expectations on them, and a lot of pressure on your relationship.
Dr Keatly says: “This is typical of relationships – we lose our sense of ‘self’ or ‘ego’ and become a merged-entity. Early blossoming relationships showcase this – with the couple seeming to mirror every action. The problem is knowing where to draw the line.”
3. Disconnecting from friends
It’s normal in the beginning stages of a relationship to spend a lot of intense, one-on-one time, but at some point you need to emerge from the love bird cocoon you’ve been living in and reconnect with your friends.
Spending time apart from each other is beneficial to both parties in a relationship because it gives them time to socialise with others. Intense couples who spend all their time together often begin to feel isolated and suffocated when they start craving some time with other people.
Be sure to remain in contact with your friends and make sure your partner knows how important they are to you.
4. Being the "yes" person
Of course we all want to keep our partners happy but don't get yourself into a position where you're always the 'yes' person. Saying 'yes' to everything is draining, unrealistic and it can be easy to lose sight of yourself in situations where you feel you can't disagree with your partner for fear of upsetting them.
Dr Keatly explains that "the issue is when we don’t feel the other person is reciprocating. This defies a basic economic rule – ‘tit-for-tat’. If we don’t feel the other player (person, loved one) is reciprocating our actions, it leads to aggravation and frustration"
A relationships is a bond between two people where each person has the right to feel like their opinion matters so if you don't want to do something, say so. If you feel like your relationship is unbalanced, speak up.
I used to have an ex who would hate when I spoke with another man. He would leave whatever conversation he was in to rush over and make it very clear we were a couple. I hated it and it made other people uncomfortable. It was mostly insecurity on his party but it was unnecessary.
Try and curb your jealous streak if you have one. He's with you because he likes you. So relax. There's no need to be attached at all times.
According to Dr Keatly, jealous behaviour "usually has more to do with the individual feeling it than the partner being blamed by it. Jealousy has its basis in self-confidence for most people. Those with lower self-esteem and self-confidence are typically more jealous."
If your partner is the one with the jealous tendencies, explain that his actions can at times feel suffocating and awkward. Be appreciative of where he is coming from but try and explain that there is no reason for jealousy.
6. Lack of trust
Once trust between two people is broken it is very hard to mend. Trawling through Facebook accounts, emails and phone messages is not a healthy way to be in a relationship and it's not necessary if both people are open and honest with each other.
If you've suffered from infidelity at some point during your relationship it can be a hard path to navigate but it's necessary to take steps to move on. Paranoia has the ability to be all consuming so if you have decided to work through infedelity, you both need to commit to getting back on track and re build the trust between you.
7. Emotional baggage
We all come to our relationships with a certain amount of emotional baggage. It's normal. As we progress through life we accumulate hurt, memories and nostalgia which can't be easily erased. Of course you might think of an ex around an anniversary, or be reminded of a previous partner when we listen to a particular song but failing to move on from a previous relationship can have serious consequences for the one you're in now.
No one wants to play second fiddle to someone's old flame, so if you're still thinking of an ex long after the relationship is done you need to ask yourself why and seek answers in whether or not you can move on and be with someone else.
You can't fully commit yourself to a new relationship if you haven't mentally left the last one.
8. Different goals
"We just want different things" is such a common complaint when it comes to failing relationships and it's true. If you don't feel like your partner shares the same goals and aspirations as you do it can be hard to picture a future together. Being open about your life ambitions and vision is paramount to getting what you want from your relationship.
Dr Keatly agrees and says: Different goals is the most ‘mature’ reason to break up – the realisation that two people are not compatible. It is a good and just reason to end a relationship, especially if continuation of the relationship would frustrate or forsake goal attainment. It is also one of the hardest reasons to break up. Knowing goals do not align is a cognitive appraisal, love is emotional. This is the infamous ‘head vs heart'."
Dr Keatly says that perhaps the most common reason for relationships failing is communication, or lack there of.
Couples that stop talking effectively are destined to fail. Effective communication is not only stating your views, but stating them in a way that the listener can interpret, understand, and react to in their own way. Countless are the couples that speak but seldom talk to each other. Instead, they talk at each other. They may as well be speaking different languages. This leads to further frustration as both think the other is simply ignoring them. An effective communicator adapts his language style to suit the listener. Effective couples communicate effectively."
Therefore for a couple to survive, communication lines need to be kept open and each partner needs to feel like they are being heard by the other.