Skip to main content

Verified by Psychology Today


Top 10 Reasons for Relationship Break-Ups

If any of these habits show up in your love life, it's time to make a change.

Key points

  • Cheating breaks a partner's heart as well as their trust.
  • Bringing home negative energy only makes things worse at home.
  • In a relationship, silence is never golden.
SFIO CRACHO/Shutterstock
Source: SFIO CRACHO/Shutterstock

Here are 10 primary reasons why breakups and divorces happen, and 10 ways to avoid them.

1. Bad behaviors.

Maybe when you were young, it was cool to be “bad,” but as an adult, especially if you have a family, those old behaviors, whatever they may be (smoking, drinking, chewing tobacco, or spending your children’s college tuition on Botox or fantasy football), have to stop. If you can’t do it on your own, your next step is rehab. Start now, and by next year you may be a new person.

2. Cheating.

So you have broken the most sacred of vows (if you are married) and, married or not, probably broken the heart of your significant other, along with his or her trust. That’s really a hard thing to rebuild, but it can be done. The trick is to avoid this pitfall in the first place. Give up even the idea of sex with other people completely, and your mate will become far more attractive.

3. Misdirected anger.

How many times have you had a lousy day at work and come home in a bad mood? Guess what: That isn’t fair, and it’s going to damage your relationship. Coming home and bringing a bunch of negative energy inside with you can only make things ugly. You can get the soothing you need and have your mood changed in a few moments by just asking for a hug and saying, “Honey, I’ve had a rotten day.”

4. Being unsupportive.

If you cannot support the one you love when he or she is down, or stressed because of some life event, you are communicating that it’s not worth your time and energy. This makes your loved one feel invalid. If you can’t be there for your other half and don’t care to change, it’s time to leave. If you want to keep your relationship, learn to be supportive.

5. Toxic people.

If you have friends that your partner can’t stand, it can be one of two things: Either there’s a control issue involved here, or these individuals are negative and should not be in your lives. If it’s a control issue (on one or both of your parts), you should see a counselor together. If your “friends” engage in bad behaviors or are disrespectful to your mate, you need to find some new people to hang out with.

6. Withholding affection and attention.

When you are not affectionate with the person who loves you, he or she is eventually going to stop asking for affection. After being turned down enough times, we become too embarrassed to ask. I’m not talking about sex—just attention, like hand-holding or cuddling on the couch. If you’d like more intimacy in your relationship, this is the place to start, slowly and sweetly.

7. Lying.

Really, why? So you don’t look bad or have to admit to doing something your other half doesn’t approve of? Look, it only becomes worse if you lie about it. Give up dishonesty, and your relationship can change very quickly. Keep at it, and your mate will lose all trust in you and your partnership.

8. Stealing.

Financial issues account for more than 30 percent of all divorces. The mere fact that “financial infidelity” has become a catchphrase speaks to how pervasive this has become. If you are going to steal from someone you love, you have an issue and need to get some help. If you feel entitled, or that your partner is a cheapskate, you still need to get some counseling. If you don’t work this out, you might as well just give up.

9. Giving up.

It’s the couples that do the hard work and face the challenges that withstand the test of time. Giving up is not the same as giving in, which is a process that needs to be considered when you are at odds with one another. Relationships are all about compromise. Remember too that you can agree to disagree without being disagreeable.

10. Not communicating.

In a relationship, silence is never golden. The more you talk, the better you will feel. Communication is the single most important thing in a relationship, bar none. If you do not have good communication, you cannot have a good relationship, plain and simple. So sit down over a cup of coffee and use your words. You’ll get a lot more out of it than you think.

Changing how you relate can be as simple as dropping a bad habit, or it may require that you get some outside input. If you are engaging in any of these behaviors, you need to look at what you are doing and why—if you want to stay together, that is.

More from Barton Goldsmith Ph.D.
More from Psychology Today