Three Key Reasons Relationships End

Think about a time when you connected with somebody emotionally. Maybe it was a drunken conversation with somebody at a party with a person who you never saw again. Or perhaps it was the first time you saw the person you went on to marry. We can connect with somebody profoundly in a few moments or over a lifetime, creating the foundations of relationships that last for years.

Some of our relationships are short lived and are more practical in essence. For example, I wouldn’t say that I have an emotional bond with my builder but there is a sense of trust in his reliability to do a good job. With my close relatives and my best friends, I feel safe to express my vulnerabilities and to know that they will treat them with the respect, love and empathy that they deserves. Emotional connection is a mutual feeling that can inspire trust, well-being, joy, happiness, love and a range of more painful emotions when you see that person suffer.

When we enter into conflict with somebody, we are still in a relationship with them. We still think about them which can provoke a negative emotional response and we may even wish to take revenge on them for what they have done to us. A lot of this may be based on our perception of how people should behave in relationships but that doesn’t make the pain any easier to handle.

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The Reasons They End

This blog post is about the core reasons we end relationships. Knowing why relationships end can help you to put them to rest without causing destructive conflict. With this kind of clarity, you can accept that nothing lasts forever. Even the strongest relationships that seemed indestructible end when somebody dies or suffers illness. That’s just how life is. Here are the key reasons relationships end:

  • Trust has been damaged. When a person behaves in a way that doesn’t align with your values or it doesn’t conform with how you would have behaved, you lose trust in them. When somebody cheats on you in a romantic relationship, they broke a promise to you that they would be faithful to you which means that they are no longer reliable. It also signals to you that they have not taken care of the vulnerable , open part of you that loves them. It feels this way when relatives or friends let you down when you need them most. It makes you question your own judgment of people and whether you were wrong all along about their love for you.

Trust can be rebuilt, especially when somebody apologises or acknowledges their behaviour and how important their relationship is with you.

  • You don’t have the same values anymore. With some people, it doesn’t matter how much time passes without seeing them, you will always be connected because you share the same values. By that, I mean that you attribute importance to the same things. That might be family, work, your romantic relationships or your hobbies. It could also relate to values that you believe create a good relationship. You might value trust and honesty in a relationship above all else, whereas somebody else might feel that having the same attitude to money and stability is more important than faithfulness. As we grow and develop, our values may change and that’s when our relationships can end. I have lost friendships since my father passed away because during that difficult time, my values became much clearer to me.

  • You have become more assertive. I see this a lot with divorcing couples. The roles that we take in relationships may have been inherited from our parents. One may be more willing to sacrifice their needs for the other, irrespective of the reason, and to accept behaviour which is not respectful of their partners needs and wishes. When you become aware of your needs and the effect it has on you when they are neglected, you start to assert yourself more. This can be uncomfortable and even, unacceptable to the other person. That’s when the cracks in your bond start to develop and break. With personal growth comes the ending of that which doesn’t serve you and the start of that which does.
Photo by mohamed Abdelgaffar on

You might be able to think of several other reasons but in general, they fall into those categories.

Curtailing Conflict

The way that you end a relationship could impact your mental health and emotional well-being by leading to intense conflict. This doesn’t end your relationship, it continues until you can detach yourself from that bond.

If you can identify the reason your relationship has ended, you can communicate that to your partner in a constructive and clear manner, either in writing or in person. The end of any relationship , no matter how significant, can throw up feelings of rejection, betrayal, unworthiness and a whole raft of other needs that are left unfulfilled. This is why destructive conflict such as insulting the other person or ignoring them can make matters worse.

As always, I’d love to read your thoughts and comments!

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