10 common reasons why relationships fail (and 4 ways to overcome them)

We sometimes include products we think are useful for our readers. If you buy through links on this page, we may earn a small commission. Read our affiliate disclosure.
Image credit: Shutterstock - By Roman Kosolapov

No matter how you spin it, most romantic relationships don’t last forever.

But if you’re reading this article, then I’m guessing that you’re looking to avoid having a failed relationship.

After all:

Everyone dreams of having a beautiful relationship that lasts forever.

One of the best things you can do to achieve that goal is to understand the main reasons most relationships come to an end.

It can help you spot warning signs early on, and reflect on your own current behavior and attitudes and whether they are conducive to a healthy relationship.

Over the past few days I’ve researched everything there is to know about the reasons most relationships fail, and I’m going to present them to you in list format below.

I’m quite confident this list will be helpful to anyone looking to improve their relationship over the long haul.

Here are 10 common reasons most relationships fail.

1. There is no compatibility

When you’re in the early stages of a relationship, everything is so new and exciting that most people gloss over the fact that they have nothing in common with their partner.

But when the relationship becomes more routine and settles into a groove, not being compatible with your partner can be a huge hindrance to the functioning of a relationship.

If your personalities and characters don’t match well together, it can become rather bothersome to spend time together.

Now don’t get me wrong:

This doesn’t mean that successful couples need to have the same personalities.

I’m not talking about that. What I’m talking about is being compatible.

For example, an introvert and an extrovert can actually balance each other very well.

This is because one person does the majority of talking while the other person listens.

Both people in the relationship are comfortable with each other.

If you complement each other’s personalities, then your differences actually become strengths.

But different personalities can become an issue when you’re constantly arguing, and you struggle to agree on anything.

It might be that you have different values and perspectives on things, which means you can hardly understand your partner at all.

Cracks as significant as different values can turn into mountains that are difficult for any relationship to overcome.

2. You have different life goals

This is a big one, and it can change the trajectory of a relationship slowly over time.

Even if your personalities are similar, some relationships fail because what they want out of life is different.

For a couple to stay together over the long haul, both people in the relationship need to be moving in a similar direction.

For example, perhaps one partner’s main motivation in life is to travel the world as much they can, whereas the other partner would prefer to stay close to their family.

Maybe one partner wants to have a family, whereas the other partner isn’t ready and may never be ready.

This is a pretty significant hurdle that most relationships simply can’t jump over.

This is why it’s always better to be honest as possible before embarking on a long-term relationship.

It avoids broken hearts and disappointments in the future.

One problem many people run into is that they go into a relationship knowing that their partner doesn’t want kids or marriage, but they believe that they’ll eventually be able to change their minds.

Sometimes this never happens and both people are left disappointed when the relationship eventually ends.

3. You have different values

Most people get to know someone’s values and principles in the process of initially going out with them.

In fact, this is a common reason relationships fail at about the 3-6 month mark when they realize that their partner’s values in life are different than theirs.

For example, perhaps one values the pursuit of money above all else, whereas the other partner’s highest priority isn’t earning money.

Or perhaps one has strong religious beliefs that actually do interfere with day-to-day life in their relationship.

One partner may not understand the significance of certain behaviors and beliefs.

Most couples realize these differences pretty early on, but you can still be taken by surprise.

Problems can also emerge when you start having children and have different ideas about how to raise them.

This is why there should always be an open discussion before having a kid, or else it can create a deep divide.

4. You don’t trust each other

Trust is the foundation of any healthy relationship. Without trust, a relationship struggles to grow and be stable.

Sometimes there can be something that happened in the past that makes it hard to trust your partner.

A common example of this is sexual infidelity, which can destroy the trust couples have with each other.

This can definitely be overcome, but some people find it difficult.

There are also other common issues that eat away at the trust of the relationship.

It could be the way a partner in the relationship spends their money or lies about their past.

The truth is, if you’re planning on building a life with someone, then it’s important, to be honest about everything, otherwise, you run the risk of losing trust in the relationship.

Many couples are able to move through trust issues, but it isn’t easy and if trust can’t be established then the relationship will inevitably finish.

5. You don’t truly love each other

When relationships first begin, they are full of passionate and sexual energy.

But when the relationship becomes more stable, love is really what keeps it together.

In any successful long-term relationship, there is a deep and solid love that binds the two together.

But sometimes that love can disappear completely, particularly after you’ve escaped the fun and passion.

Sometimes there is a reason for love to disappear, such as trust issues, sex problems, or value problems, but occasionally it can happen for no particular reason.

Recongizing, when love has faded from the relationship, is important because you don’t want to stay in a relationship that doesn’t have love.

6. Fear of commitment

It’s a big commitment to be in a long-term relationship. It means building something special together that may involve family and marriage.

It also means that you will have someone relying on you.

And for some people, this can cause significant relationship anxiety that makes them question the future of their relationship.

The truth is, falling in love is risky, and some people aren’t prepared to go through with it.

Their heart could get broken, or they may believe that their freedom might be compromised.

Love is an incredibly special emotion, but the reality is that it does come attached with some pain (as well as joy).

This is why some people can be quite scared when it comes to embarking on a long-term relationship

And sometimes they can never overcome this fear no matter how hard they try, which typically means the end of a relationship.

7. One partner goes through a tragic event

This isn’t as common as the above reasons, but it can happen.

Sometimes, no matter how much love exists between the two, life changes and traffic events happen which causes a divide in the relationship.

If one partner goes through a big emotional, personal, professional or financial crisis, it could put a heavy strain on the relationship.

They might be become harder to deal with, and the joy that used to exist in the relationship disappears.

While this isn’t a relationship problem, it can manifest into problems that the relationship simply can’t cope with.

This is not to say that any tragic event will lead to the end of the relationship. Not at all.

Most of the time, the love couples have for one another is strong enough to withstand even the most brutal events.

8. Life moves in a different direction

As human beings, change is a part of life. We’re always changing and growing as people.

Sometimes that growth can cause people to move in different directions compared to their partner.

The person someone is today when they first meet their partner may be quite different from what they are in 10 years.

They might stop communicating. Or the passion and excitement that was there 10 years ago is now gone.

It isn’t always an issue. Most of the time, couples grow together and the love between them is so strong that it keeps them together.

But for some couples, they grow apart and develop different interests, goals, and priorities.

And that spells the end of the relationship because they are no longer compatible.

9. The man doesn’t feel like a hero

It’s no secret that men and women see the world differently.

We’re driven by different goals and attitudes when it comes to relationships and love.

Sometimes, the woman fails to reflect on what really drives men in relationships.

And failing to do can leave the man feeling unsatisfied.

Because men have a built-in desire for something “greater” that goes beyond love or sex. It’s why men who seemingly have the “perfect girlfriend” are still unhappy and find themselves constantly searching for something else — or worst of all, someone else.

Simply put, men have a biological drive to feel needed, to feel important, and to provide for the woman he cares about.

Relationship psychologist James Bauer calls it the hero instinct. He created an excellent free video about the concept.

You can watch the video here.

As James argues, male desires are not complicated, just misunderstood. Instincts are powerful drivers of human behavior and this is especially true for how men approach their relationships.

So, when the hero instinct isn’t triggered, men are unlikely to be satisfied in a relationship. He holds back because being in a relationship is a serious investment for him. And he won’t fully “invest” in you unless you give him a sense of meaning and purpose and make him feel essential.

How do you trigger this instinct in him? How do you give him a sense of meaning and purpose?

You don’t need to pretend to be anyone you’re not or play the “damsel in distress”. You don’t have to dilute your strength or independence in any way, shape or form.

In an authentic way, you simply have to show your man what you need and allow him to step up to fulfill it.

In his video, James Bauer outlines several things you can do. He reveals phrases, texts and little requests that you can use right now to make him feel more essential to you.

Here’s a link to the video again.

By triggering this very natural male instinct, you’ll not only supercharge his confidence but it will also help to rocket your relationship to the next level.

10. Communication issues

This is a big one. Communication is critical for any solid relationship.

Most of the problems we have mentioned above can be avoided when couples are able to communicate with each other honestly and understand each other.

Studies have found that communication issues are one of the top reasons for break-up or divorce.

Dr. John Gottman believes that it is the most significant predictor of divorce.


Because Communication issues can lead to contempt, which is the opposite of respect.

And when you don’t have respect in a relationship, it’s impossible for a relationship to grow.

If you fear that you’re on the verge of a failed relationship, you’re probably wondering what you can do about it.

The good news is that, no matter how bad your relationship may seem right now, it is possible to save your relationship.

Here are some key steps that you can consider taking.

4 steps to fixing relationship problems

Can a failed relationship work again?

It sure can.

There are plenty of instances where people break up and then get back together to create a stronger bond.

Here are 4 steps to fixing relationship problems:

1. List down everything you feel is wrong with the relationship

If you feel like that your relationship is on the verge of collapsing, then you need to dissect the relationship and all its problems.

So take out a pen and a pad and list everything down that you feel is wrong with the relationship – individually and separately – and make sure you understand every part of the relationship that needs work.

What are some things you can list down?

Here are some examples of common struggles in a relationship:

– Lack of communication
– Lack of attention and intimacy
– Lack of emotional or physical care

2. Fix what you can fix

While you’re unable to fix your partner’s problems, whatever they may be, you can fix another set of issues: your own.

Look at the list you created, and work out what you can do yourself.

Simply taking accountability for your own issues and flaws is enough to encourage your partner to take accountability for their own, because it shows them that you care enough about the relationship to make the changes they asked you to make, even after all the problems you’ve faced.

There needs to be a sense of partnership again, and you can begin cultivating this by working towards a shared goal: making yourselves better for each other.

3. Focus on your communication

We mentioned above that communication is one of the most important facets of any healthy relationship.

The truth is, your partner needs to understand how you feel, and you need to understand how they feel.

Not just your wants and needs, but also your existing pains and sorrows.

This is where your list that you wrote above comes in.

Be honest with each other. Don’t argue or accuse. And with non-judgmental communication, try to work through your issues.

Remember: this is a partnership and no partnership is successful without proper cooperation and communication.

4. Stop taking each other for granted

Taking each other for granted is one of the common reasons why relationships fail.

This small violation breeds unhappiness and discontent, which often spirals into more serious problems in a partnership.

This can be easily avoided by simply thanking your partner for all the little things.

For most couples, the relationship involves building many different facets of their lives that interconnect.

The implicit obligation of caring for each other can make your partner’s everyday efforts seem obvious and not deserving of praise.

And that’s precisely why thanking each other for something as simple as holding the door open or making coffee is important in keeping a relationship alive.

FREE eBook: The Marriage Repair Handbook

Just because a marriage has issues doesn’t mean you’re headed for divorce.

The key is to act now to turn things around before matters get any worse.

If you want practical strategies to dramatically improve your marriage, check out our FREE eBook here.

We have one goal with this book: to help you mend your marriage.

Here’s a link to the free eBook again



Disclosure: This post is brought to you by the Hack Spirit review team. In our reviews, Hack Spirit highlights products and services that you might find interesting. If you buy them, we receive a small commission from that sale. However, we only ever recommend products that we have personally investigated and truly feel could be valuable to you. Read our affiliate disclosure here. We welcome your feedback at reviews@hackspirit.com.

Did you like my article? Like me on Facebook to see more articles like this in your feed.

Lachlan Brown

I’m Lachlan Brown, the founder, and editor of Hack Spirit. I love writing practical articles that help others live a mindful and better life. I have a graduate degree in Psychology and I’ve spent the last 15 years reading and studying all I can about human psychology and practical ways to hack our mindsets. Check out my latest book on the Hidden Secrets of Buddhism and How it Saved My Life. If you want to get in touch with me, hit me up on Facebook or Twitter.

“I feel like I don’t belong” – 12 honest tips if you feel that this is you

How to get over a guy: 26 things you can do right now