The Number 1 Cause Of Break Ups: Why Most Relationships Fail

The Surprising Top Cause Of Break Ups: Why Most Relationships Fail

The Number 1 Cause Of Break Ups: Why Most Relationships Fail
Want to know the number 1 cause of break ups – and why most relationships fail? Here’s some interesting research on the secrets of long lasting couples.

I can sum up in three “acts” the breakdowns and breakups of most relationships since the beginning of time:

Act 1: You hurt me.

Act 2: Because you hurt me, I now hurt you.

Act 3: Because you hurt me, I now hurt you and so you hurt me again and so I hurt you—and downward spiraling we shall go.

John Gottman, the famed founder of The Love Lab (a research lab where couples are studied), says he can consistently predict how long a relationship will last, not based on how well a couple gets along, but by how well a couple doesn’t get along.

The Number 1 Reason Relationships Fail:

  • A relationship is only as strong as its weakest link – how well couples can deal with conflict! If you don’t deal with conflict well – your relationship will sputter and die.

In the 3 act story up above, Act 2 and Act 3 represent “conflict being handled poorly.” As a result, this “bad communication during conflict” creates the big breaking point for a “break up” point.

The Number 1 Cause Of Break Ups: Why Most Relationships Fail

The Research on Failed Relationships:

Gottman observed many thousands of couples for more than four decades.

His studies reported that most couples were not fighting about specific issues like money, sex, parenting, religion, in-laws, etc.

Instead, they were fighting about “a failure to emotionally connect during times of conflict.”

Translation:

Each partner was sucking at Act 2 and Act 3.

Gottman explains the problem like this:

“We realized that instead of couples having productive conflict discussions about tangible issues, couples were really arguing about how one partner may not pay much attention to the other’s needs, or may not express much interest in things that their partner cares about. Over time, you can start to constantly think about how negative your relationship makes you feel. You will eventually stop believing that your partner has your best interests at heart. Your potential for disconnection and betrayal then increases. The good feelings you once had might be replaced with loneliness, frustration, and anger. Each small, negative incident—each bad communication during fights—only increases the potential for betrayal or breakup.”

2 Big Lessons:

  • When you’re in a couple, it’s as if you’re both members of a team called “Team Love.”
  • If you hurt the other during times of conflict – or at any time –  you’re hurting the whole team – and Team Love loses.

The solution?

Healthy conflict should play out like this…

Act 1: You hurt me.

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Act 2: I explain how you hurt me – calmly describing how I felt about what you did.

I then ask you to see things from my point of view – while also asking you to explain your point of view.

I try to keep an open perspective.

Act 3: You then explain to me why you chose to hurt me – what you were thinking and feeling when you did.

You each might choose to defend what you did – but you also  try to remain open to seeing how you could have done things differently. Together you both put in the work of repair  – and you search for a longterm solution so patterns don’t repeat – and so you both feel safe and supported.

Basically, it doesn’t matter what the specific fight was about: money, sex, parenting, religion, in-laws, etc.

How you communicate during times of conflict will determine if your relationship can survive the test of time.

Gottman says, “If partners see the conflict as an opportunity for growth, they can attune to each other and increase their understanding of one another, which deepens their trust in each other and in the relationship. If partners dismiss or disrespect the other person’s negative emotions, they may eventually reconnect with one another, but trust will erode a little. Over time, small and meaningless incidents will compound until partners are left feeling hurt, sad, and alone.”

The goals for both people:

  • When feeling conflict rising, reach out for your partner’s hand instead of pointing fingers and crossing arms.
  • Instead of acting out, go inward and become introspective – trying to see things from all points of view.
  • When you communicate, talk about how you uniquely see things – and how you personally feel about things – owning that your side is just one side of reality.
  • When your partner communicates, stay open to their points of view. Don’t interrupt. Don’t condescend. Validate that you hear at least some truth in what they are saying. Empathize as best as you can.
  • Stay open to changing and growing who you are so the conflict does not keep repeating – and so the relationship can grow stronger instead of weaker.

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Karen Salmansohn (Founder)

Hi I’m Karen Salmansohn, founder of NotSalmon. My mission is to offer you easy-to-understand insights and tools to empower you to bloom into your happiest, highest potential self. I use playful analogies, feisty humor, and stylish graphics to distill big ideas – going as far back as ancient wisdom from Aristotle, Buddhism and Darwin to the latest research studies from Cognitive Therapy, Neuro Linquistic Programming, Neuroscience, Positive Psychology, Quantum Physics, Nutritional Studies – and then some.

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