The Three Top Reasons To Breakup
By Genie Joseph, PhD

What are the reasons to breakup?  For some people, it is easier to get into a relationship than it is to get out of one. They weigh the pros and cons of staying over and over. But it seems the top three deal breakers are: 1)  issues with their partner’s personality, 2) a breach of trust and cheating,  and 3) their partner becoming distant or disconnected.

Reasons To Breakup–The Deal Breakers

What kinds of issues are deal breakers? Everyone is different, and everyone has different issues which are deal breakers. Often we can put up with “quirks” – or style differences, but when someone does something that crosses the line of your value system, these little patterns can become intolerable.  

Personality Differences

“My fiance and I were planning our wedding.  One night we were out to dinner, and he was so rude to the waiter – as he almost always was whenever we went out.  I cringed,” Ashley, a teacher said.  “I have to thank this complete stranger, a young pimply kid.  Because at that moment I knew I didn’t want to spend my life with someone who felt he had a right to mistreat a stranger.  I just knew that at some point his superiority complex would turn on me.”  For Ashley, who had a strong belief that all humans were equal and deserved equal respect, this behavior was intolerable.  Even though Steven, a successful young attorney had many qualities she admired, this was the red flag that made her realize that this was an incompatibility that she didn’t want to spend her life handling.

It is worth taking the time to make a list of your top five to seven core values or principles you live by.  This list will help you chose a partner that also shares at least seventy-five percent of your values, which are your core sense of “right and wrong.”  We can have infinite patience with certain differences of interest, taste, and habits.  But when too many of our core operating principles conflict, the relationship may not endure for the long haul.

“She had this expression, ‘let’s just kill some time together.”   Even though I thought she was hot and the sex was great, every time she said that – it just made something inside me cringe,” Allan, a painter said about a Tina, a girl he had dated for three months.  “I just never want to waste time.  Even if I am just walking, I am listening for inspiration.  I am painting in my mind.  Everything prepares me for that moment in front of the blank canvas.  I just am not willing to waste a moment.  I have gratitude for open space and free time because it is what leads me to my inspiration.”

Reasons To Breakup: Cheating Or Trust Breakdown

Does Cheating Mean the End of a Relationship?

For many people, if they can’t trust their partner, or they discover they are cheating, this will be the end of the relationship.  They are not willing to live with broken trust and betrayal.  For others, especially people who are married with children, entwined lives, and complex interdependent economics, they are willing to try to repair a relationship after an affair.  It depends on which values have been challenged and how willing the cheating partner is to mend the damage.  If an affair is over, and the cheater truly values the primary relationship, and there is a willingness to honestly discuss what is missing in the primary relationship, there is hope for repair.  But it takes a lot of work, good intentions, and time to repair broken trust.

Reasons To Breakup: Emotional Distance

Partners who are emotionally unavailable, distant, or disconnected are the third most common reason for breakups according to a study by Professor Samantha Joel.  When someone feels that their partner is not emotionally connected, it is hard to stay in love.  We want people we feel a strong bond with.  Someone who understands our emotions, or is willing to.  We want a partner who feels engaged in emotional terms.  Some people call that emotional commitment – the feeling that “my feelings matter,” as Jaime described why she fell in love with Steven, after a previous emotionally empty seven-year marriage.  

There are as many reasons to stay together as there are partners who are waking up together.  But it seems that when one of these three big break-up reasons are in place, the relationship is on shaky ground.  Values conflicts, broken trust, and emotional disconnection are hard to overcome.  But – if both partners are willing, there is always hope.

If you are contemplating a breakup, make sure you understand your core values, and that will help you decide whether to stay or pack your bags.


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