New love always feels evergreen. The spark of attraction lights the warmth of affection, which precipitates commitment — and happiness together, forever and ever.
Who are we kidding? Love doesn’t work like that. Not really.
Over time, emotions evolve. A sweet, romantic bond once based on mutual attraction devolves into an ongoing battle about who left the dirty dishes in the sink or forgot to pull the garbage can to the curb on trash day.
Sometimes, frustrated or disillusioned romantic partners turn to other people for solace. They can’t stop chasing that initial spark, even if it means ending a relationship that once seemed destined to last a lifetime.
And so, they cheat on their partner. The marriage or long-term relationship, tattered and frayed, falls apart. It’s a tale as old as time.
But not every relationship ends because of infidelity. What else causes a relationship to end, then?
The team at YourTango Experts sought the insight of relationship experts who explained why some long-term romantic partners go their separate ways — other than adultery.
14 experts reveal why people end long-term relationships (other than infidelity)
1. They get bored
Although there are many reasons an individual chooses to leave a relationship, two less-conflict-based ones are boredom and loss of hope that what needs to be modified or changed never will be.
– Ruth Schimel, Ph.D., career and life management consultant and author
2. They feel misunderstood
The most common reason people leave a relationship is the frustration of not feeling understood — but also minimized or ignored or hurt in some way by the knowledge the other has about the person.
Examples would be putting someone down over and over for a hobby or passion or way of dressing or loving animals. The list can become endless as we all have traits and interests and behaviors that can be attacked.
– Dr. Barbara Becker Holstein, positive psychologist
3. They believe they don’t matter
When someone treats you like you don’t matter, or like you are not part of a team, it is quite common to see the distance between a couple.
A healthy relationship is necessary to maintain depth and meaning with those we hold close. This involves being able to communicate, and share tasks, as well as love, kindness and respect.
– Kathy Lynn Thielen, spiritual intuitive, life and relationship coach
4. They don’t communicate well
The most common reasons for a divorce are lack of communication, or bad communication skills, which eventually cause the couple to feel unheard and unappreciated and drift apart. My best advice for improving your relationship is to maintain good lines of communication, or put in the time and work to actively improve your communication with your partner.
– Anna Krolikowska, Esq., divorce attorney and mediator
5. They landed in the wrong situation
Your work relationships can create either havoc or harmony in your life, including your relationship. Try to determine if there are reasons to fire your boss and move on.
– Jeff Saperstein, career coach
6. They refuse to grow as people
When one partner is ready to have more together — in terms of growth, healing, commitment, connection, communication, devotion, safety, intimacy, and deep mutuality but the other partner is fixed on prioritizing self-interest over the greater good of the relationship, someone will leave.
Getting to an agreement of “good for you and me” is the most effective antidote for these types of divergent paths of personal growth and evolution.
– Eva Van Prooyen, marriage and family therapist
7. They have unrealistic expectations
We see couples having problems and getting divorced so often by the illusion of more. We see all of these fairytale relationships on social media and feel that there has to be more out there, or as our grandparents would say “that the grass is greener on the other side of the fence.”
If you constantly feel like you or your spouse are not good enough and that you want to run off to experience more of what life has to offer, it’s time to take a really close look in the mirror and find the root of what is making you feel that way.
You get out what you put into your relationships so maybe turn off Instagram and start living the life you always dreamed of with the partner you said “I do” to.
– Taylor Kovar, CEO of the Money Couple
8. They are afraid
Fear is always to blame when someone leaves a relationship. Fear of infidelity; fear of poverty; and fear of becoming a slave to the partner’s demands. Learning how to motivate your partner to meet more needs is the key to co-creating a peaceful, powerful life based on love.
– Susan Allan, founder,and coach of the Marriage Forum
9. They fall out of love
There is a shift around the seven-year mark in which the relationship loses its sparkle and when this occurs couples often assume they fell “out of love” and they get a divorce. This can occur one year in for some and 10 years for others.
As it progresses it requires more work on your part to keep it exciting. Take on new hobbies together, travel, and try new things in the bedroom!
– Erika Jordan, love coach, NLP practitioner
10. They don’t feel heard or seen
Other than infidelity, the most common reason someone decides to leave a relationship is not being heard and diminished.
Many women feel chronically criticized and tamped down in their life. They long for validation and the feeling that their partner really hears, and understands them and won’t constantly put down their passions and interests.
11. They aren’t sexually compatible
In my over 35 years of clinical practice, I’ve seen countless reasons including but not limited to: sexual incompatibility (one person seeks sexual pleasure and the other finds that aversive), gravely mismatched sex drives; anger and resentments (over small or large issues) that build up over the years and go unresolved.
– Laurie Mintz, licensed psychologist, and author
12. They have not evolved emotionally
One problem area that needs to be acknowledged more is a mismatch in emotional growth. While no two couples are the same, clear patterns emerge. Hopefully, most people will evolve. It is scary to think that someone at 25 is who they still are at 40.
It is silly, too frightening, or unsettling to acknowledge that they could grow and become a better or even different person. And many people think they are just fine and have no interest in changing.
The maturity of the self can threaten each side, the one changing and the one not. Suddenly, you realize that your spouse is not the person you married or they still are, and the relationship no longer fits.
Love is generally not enough to overcome this shift, and either they try to create a new relationship together, or it comes to a close.
Not every relationship is destined to be forever, so handling these changes with compassion is vital.
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– Merle Yost, LMFT
13. They lack emotional intimacy
When both or any one of the couple lack emotional intimacy, the other person feels uncomfortable conveying their emotions and resists deep conversations. Slowly, they quit going to their partner to share their joys, happiness, life, or relationship issues, and mask their state of mind.
The emotional distance that emerges becomes the number one cause (after infidelity) of why people decide to leave a relationship.
Often, it’s also the reason why someone seeks solace in another person which leads to emotional infidelity and eventually, physical infidelity. As an absence of emotional intimacy has affected communication, a lonely partner raises questions on the future of the relationship, all in their mind.
They wonder what’s the point of being with an emotionally unavailable partner and suddenly decide to end the relationship.
This is why so many relationships that appear perfect from the outside come to an abrupt end.
– Sidhharrth S Kumaar, Astro numerologist and relationship coach
14. They treat each other with contempt
Contempt is a reason other than infidelity that people report in my practice as a reason for leaving a relationship.
When that negative energy and interactions begin to consume the relationship, there is no room for love, laughter or fun any longer. We want to know that we are valued, appreciated and respected.
Contempt hardens our hearts and it is then decided it would be better to be alone than unhappy in the relationship.
– Dr. Susan Pazak, clinical psychologist and life coach