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3 Ways to Avoid Getting Dumped

How denial of relationship problems destroys love.

Key points

  • Most people who get dumped feel a sense of shock and are unaware of the role they played in the demise of the relationship.
  • Neglecting your partner's emotional needs can easily become a pattern that escapes your awareness.
  • While slip ups may occur, being mindful not to hurt your partner by ignoring or disrespecting them will likely keep your relationship healthy.

I feel a lot of empathy for shocked people who consult me for relationship coaching after their partner has broken up with them. Yet, what is fascinating to me is that even in cases of longstanding relationship strife, the parties who were unkind or neglectful still feel surprised. Actually, many still shake their heads in disbelief well after the other partner has moved on.

Not everyone who is dumped is mean or unkind. Some people left in the "relationship is over dust" are likely good folks whose partners broke up with them because they (and later may regret) didn't value of what the dumped party had to offer.

That said, here are three top reasons why many other relationship partners feel shocked and shaken when they are dumped:

1. Lack of respect and emotional neglect.

Dan was a six foot five man curled up in a ball on my office carpet about four years ago. Remaining in the fetal position, his face was ashen when his wife Gillian, said, "I'm done!"

When we first meet our partners, we are super accommodating and do all we can to be compassionate and present the best version of ourselves. Then over time, the vicissitudes of daily life and the associated stresses we face can wear us down. If we let them, these pressures can lead us to get out of touch and even downright clueless when it comes to treating our partners well.

I describe this pattern of relationship decay in my book, Why Can't You Read My Mind?, as the Three D Effect. The first D is distraction, whereby we let ourselves lose focus on the importance of being present for our partners because we get bogged down in toxic thoughts about one another. The next D is Distance and that is when we start to pull away rather than stay in a place of emotional vulnerability. The third and fatal-to-relationships, D, is Disconnection. This process of disconnection refers to the decision to leave the relationship.

Alternatively, we need to treat our partners well no matter what is going on in our lives. By this I mean being a good listener, being patient, being respectful, and doing random acts of kindness.

Dan, mentioned above, not only fell off the wagon of caring and respect in the relationship, but he also couldn't get out of his own way and got run over by it! The point here is that Gillian did not just drift away from Dan. Gillian pulled away to protect herself from Dan's insensitive and uncaring ways of relating to her.

2. Being in denial about differing priorities.

One the most common examples of differing priorities between partners I have seen over and over is where one partner wants the relationship to go the distance and the other is just not ready or is too immature to think about the future. Then, the partner who is chasing and persistently hopeful, even if they are codependent, wears down and eventually breaks off the relationship. Go figure! The party who was calling all the shots now feels totally shot down.

3. Not communicating well.

With so much attention on emotional health these days, and the desire for emotionally healthy relationships, the bar is higher than ever for what is acceptable in terms of healthy communication. Partners who do not communicate well, wittingly or most likely unwittingly, put themselves and their partner on what I call, The Bottle It Up And Explode Later Plan. The bottom line is that the more calmly, openly, and constructively you talk things out, the better. If you do not have good communication, you will find yourself on, The Island of Dumped Exes. The best way to stay away from being marooned there is to be kind, empathetic, and respectful.


Verhallen, A.M. (2019) Romantic relationship breakup: An experimental model to study effects of stress on depression (-like) symptoms. PLoS One. 2019; 14(5): e0217320. Published online 2019 May 31. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0217320

Field, B. (2021). Reasons Why Relationships Fail.

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