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time posted
Dec 12, 2022

Why Do People Leave Relationships?


The heartbreaking experience of leaving a relationship, or your partner leaving the relationship can be like someone has frozen your entire life and you just don’t understand what has happened. This can be hard to move on from, find closure, and begin to heal.

Both partners are affected by the end of a relationship or marriage and seeking help can assist you in finding your way forward. If your relationship has not yet ended but is struggling with some of the elements mentioned here, then seeking out couples counselling is a good idea to see if you can heal the relationship.

Each person’s relationship is unique and should be seen as such. There are some commonalities regarding why a partner decides to leave a relationship or marriage. Understanding these commonalities may offer you some understanding, or realization that you may need therapeutic assistance.

They Are Having An Affair

An affair has been found to be a common reason for a partner to leave a relationship. Meeting someone new and starting a relationship releases a lot of dopamine, which feels amazing. This feeling can lead to dissatisfaction with a longer-term relationship where the ‘rush’ is not felt any longer. 

Leaving a relationship for another person can be a risky decision, as a new relationship may not offer you what you already have. If an affair is something that might start or has happened, it might be a good idea to look at the why that is driving the need for the affair. 

Finding out the why can give you clarity as to what you or your partner is seeking out and is feeling that they are not receiving. Perhaps a partner was looking for something they felt was missing in their relationship, or it could be the excitement. Whatever the reason, it may be worth exploring this as a couple to see if there is a way forward together, or a way to part with closure for both partners.

They Need Time To Themselves

Our lives go through different stages, sometimes there is an external force like a trauma or medical challenge, or a shift in perspective. These can create a need for more time alone – or in extreme cases a change in who the person is, or how they define themselves.

These changes can lead a person to need to be on their own, to find independence and identity outside of a relationship. This can seem overwhelming and confusing for both partners. This could be one of the harder reasons someone leaves a relationship as there is must confusion in the partner who is leaving.

The partner who is left behind may not understand this need for time and can feel hurt that they are not ‘good enough’ to be there for their loved one during this time. Remembering that this at times like this your partner might not be able to recognize themselves and that this decision is only about them might help you find closure.

It might also seem like a drastic measure to many people around the couple. It is more helpful to find people to support each partner without judgement.

They Are Not Receiving Emotional Support

Feeling as if you are emotionally supported is a vital part of being in a relationship. Many married couples explain a feeling of complacency when it comes to emotional support in a long-term relationship.

This might be because it is easy to get wrapped up in your own daily experiences that it becomes less important to have focused time to support your partner. Without emotional support and validation there is less emotional intimacy, which can damage a happy relationship.

Emotional support provides genuine friendship and helps each partner feel appreciated. Having good communication can increase the feelings of emotional support and emotional intimacy. Without feeling validated and recognized it can detract from the strength of the relationship and make a partner feel lonely.

There are ways that emotional support can be built and enhanced, many of them stem from having time each day to focus solely on your partner.

They Don’t Feel An Emotional Connection Anymore

A relationship has an initial boost of connection, and this connection is grown and nurtured. Sometimes this connection is lost in a romantic relationship. There are many reasons for this. Yet no matter the reason it is a painful experience, usually for both partners.

There might be care or fondness felt for the other partner, but the romantic and emotional connection is no longer strong enough to remain in the relationship. Without this connection feelings of resentment and bitterness can build up. This can cause conflicts and more damage to each other.

The emotional connection may be lost if a person battles to interpret emotional messages correctly and then respond to them. This can feel like you are being ignored, or your needs aren’t being met. Poor communication skills and not expressing how you feel for fear of hurting the other person’s feelings can lead to further disconnection.

An emotional connection can be rebuilt with care and focused attention. This can be done together as a couple or guided by a couple’s therapist. If both partners are willing to commit and work together to see if the connection can be rebuilt, then this path is a viable option. If one partner feels that the connection is too far lost, then rebuilding may not be the best option for both individuals as it may cause more hurt.

There Is A Change In Aspirations And Goals

When you start a relationship there is a high probability that you both want the same things and have similar goals. This may change over time, and this will shift the boundaries and expectations of a relationship. 

There is a misconception that starting out with similarities in aspirations and goals will lead to long term happiness. However, this is not the case, there will be shifting in these aspirations and life goals for both partners.

When the shift happens, the hope is that there is clear communication between the partners and these changes can be integrated into the relationship. Integrating the changes into the relationship may enable both partners to adjust and move forward together. Sometimes the change makes it impossible for the partners to move forward together, in these cases, with clear communication both partners feel a sense of closure and understanding which aids healing.

There Is A Loss Of Physical Intimacy

Physical intimacy involves all forms of touch, including sex. Having this connection with your partner can be such a critical part of a healthy relationship. Many forms of physical intimacy such as holding hands, hugging, cuddling together on the couch, basically any contact skin to skin releases the same bonding chemicals as sex does. 

This means that having physical affection with your partner can form part of your daily life. There is a high commonality between the loss of physical intimacy and connection and the leaving of a relationship.

Having both sexual and non sexual intimacy in a relationship will strengthen the connection between the couple. This can be one of the trickiest areas to keep alive as it can take more effort from one partner than the other.

Many people may feel unworthy, unloved, or unattractive if there is a decline in physical contact. This can lead to feelings of low self esteem, questioning their partner’s commitment, and if the relationship is still for them.

To Wrap Up

No matter whether you are the partner leaving a relationship, or the partner left behind, this is a difficult experience and can require you to give yourself time to heal. The end of a relationship is a loss, and with all loss comes grief. 

When a relationship ends it does not mean that the entire relationship did not have meaning. When you work through your loss you will be able to look back on some memories fondly and appreciate the time you had together. 

Grief is a cyclic emotion and can creep up on us when we least expect it. Allow yourself time for this process. If you feel that you need help you can reach out to a therapist, who will support you through your loss and help you rebuild.

It does seem that many relationships end with one partner being taken by surprise. This does not have to be the case if there is open communication between the couple about these difficulties and feelings.

Perhaps this communication will lead you to a family therapist to try and nurture the relationship, perhaps it will lead to the ending of the relationship where both partners understand the reason why.If you feel that you need to reach out to a family therapist, contact us at One Life Counselling and Coaching. We are here to support you.

I am the founder of One Life Counselling and Coaching LTD and I am honored to lead a team of professional psychologists, psychotherapist’s and life coaches who dedicate their professional lives to helping people to elevate their mindsets, evolve their beliefs and learn to thrive in the present moment.
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