The One Reason Most Relationships Fail

It may sound very clickbait-y to claim that there is only one reason relationships fail! But though there are clear exceptions to the rule (and these are often the very serious issues such as abuse or personality disorders), most regular relationships do fail because of one simple thing:


It’s all nice and dandy if you’re voicing your expectations clearly. But what often happens is that we have some implicit expectations, some rules for living that we automatically assume everyone lives by, even if they don’t! And what happens when the other person breaks an implicit rule of yours? Well, they clearly don’t love you and they’re a complete idiot, right? Not really.

To make it easier to understand, here’s an example.

Your implicit rule of living may be: “If someone loves you, they’ll want to be with you all the time.” And to you that makes perfect sense because of your upbringing and early experiences. Your parents may have been in love for the past 40 years and they’re always spending time together! Or alternatively, they may have gotten a divorce because they never spent time together.

So now, for whichever reason, you’re simply convinced that what you believe is an unbreakable rule. And you’re not going to talk about it, either - why should you? It’s something everyone is aware of!

Rules of Living - Tools of Self-Esteem

But the truth is, these rules for living usually mask our deeper convictions about life, love, and even ourselves. So if deep inside you believe, for example“I am not very lovable”, this rule of living will serve to give you constant reassurance and compensate that belief. What you end up with is: “Unless they want to spend all their free time with me, it means I’m utterly unlovable and boring!” And if you see that they, in fact, want some alone time every once in a while, these unconscious beliefs become activated and you start feeling depressed.

Alternatively (and here's where we get to the heart of the issue), if your belief states “I must always be loved”, you’ll get angry at them when they don’t show their love the way you want them to.

In short, because of these unconscious beliefs we hold, we develop rules of living. These rules are almost never spoken out loud, and because of that, the other person has no idea what you expect from them! They might be living according to some other rules: “If I’m spending 100% of my free time with her, I must be dependent on this relationship”, and all of that so it compensates the deeper belief: “You can never fully rely on other people”. To combat that belief and that fear, the other person may be distancing themselves, while you cling to them to either run away from or confirm your own beliefs.

It’s a mess!

And because those expectations you have are not being fulfilled, the relationship starts to suffer. You start misunderstanding one another: if he doesn’t want to go out, you think he must not care. You start being passive-aggressive, confirming their internal belief that people can really not be trusted, you start fighting more and more often until one of you or both have had enough. Next thing you know, you're reading this article on overcoming a breakup!

A Simple Relationship-Saver

And all of that when there’s a simple way to overcome your differences: say what you want! Just because it makes perfect sense to you that things should be one way or the other, it doesn’t mean the other person thinks the same. And it doesn’t make you unlovable, nor does it make them a total jerk. It’s just that you’ve been brought up differently, and your unique experiences have shaped your internal beliefs and implicit rules for living in a different way.

So be open whatever it is, and you’ll likely hear them say “Oh wow, that’s not how I saw it, but let’s talk about it and find a compromise”. It’s not that hard once you start catching these thoughts and questioning them!

© 2020 by Modern Coupling.