Relationships: The 6 Reasons People Leave (And How to Avoid It Happening To Yours)

No two relationships are the same but the reasons people fall out of love often are.

Love would be so much easier if the line between ‘in love’ and ‘out of love’ was a heavy bold one clearly visible from the distance on a stormy day. It would also be helpful if the path that lead to that line came with warning signs the size of billboards, blaring sirens on approach and a guardrail the length of the Great Wall and the height of the Sydney Opera House. Yes. That would be nice.

No relationship is perfect, most have a make it or break it point and all are damn hard work.

Here are the most common reasons people fall out of love and ways to stop them getting in the way of a happy ending – or any ending at all. Even if the reason for someone leaving looks to be something else, it’s very likely that the falling away started because of one of these. 

  1. They don’t feel appreciated.

    The emotional resources of a relationship are like any other – they need to be spent and they need to be replenished. The things that mattered at the start still matter and they always will.

    It’s not enough to expect someone ‘just to know’ he or she loved. It misses the point. Being openly loving and appreciative is fuel for any relationship and makes an intimate relationship different to any other. 

    I’ve made this mistake myself – a few times. When my world has become too busy and hectic – kids, work, life – I’ve take the person I love for granted. Eventually, I’ve realised and have able to pull it back. Every time, my cue has been that feeling of missing him – but when he’s right beside me. I can see how easily it would be for a relationship to slide slowly and silently into the zone of housemates, or strangers.

    Relationships have a rhythm. They ebb and flow. Sometimes they’ll be at the top of the priority list and sometimes they’ll slip further down. The most important thing is not to let it stay down the list for too long and to be committed to looking after each other and the relationship when the connection starts to run low. There’ll always be enough time for whatever you decide to put as a priority.

    You deserve someone who thinks you’re wonderful. So does the person you’re with. Adore them. Appreciate them. Acknowledge them. 

    If one person is doing all the giving without getting anything back, eventually the well will run dry and so will the relationship. When one – and it only takes one – feels unimportant to the other, the emotional connection will wither – it’s just a matter of time.

    It’s easy to take each other for granted when life gets in the way but try these to keep the sparks sparking and the person you love close:

    • Notice the little things.
    • Say thank you, often.
    • Tell them they’re wonderful.
    • Acknowledge what you love, even if it’s just the way they look in a white t-shirt.
    • Listen with your eyes.
    • Make them a cup of tea. 
    • Say ‘good morning’ or ‘goodnight’ as though it’s good because of them.
    • Throw a ‘you’ on the end of ‘Hello’. It makes ‘Hello’ sound like you mean it.
    • Be affectionate.
    • Praise or compliment them in public.
    • Send a text: ‘Missed you today.’
    • Kiss slowly. And often.

    It makes a difference.

  2. There’s no emotional connection.

    The friendship has gone, or perhaps was never there.

    Studies have shown that the love and passion that comes with the initial boost of marriage wears off after two years, which is why the best relationships are the ones that have genuine friendship at their core.

    When the initial passion cools, a mature, loving, compassionate, relationship takes over. That’s not to say it won’t sizzle sometimes, but being able to connect emotionally is what sustains a long-lasting relationship.

    Here are some ways to fuel an emotional connection:

    • Talk regularly.
    • Call for the sake of it.
    • Ask about their day, and listen to the answer.
    • Notice when they’re upset.
    • Notice when they’re happy.
    • Listen when they talk.
    • Just because something doesn’t seem important to you, doesn’t mean it isn’t important to them.
    • Acknowledge what they are feeling.
    • Laugh. At yourselves and with each other.
    • Know what’s happening in their world. Don’t just assume that you do.
    • Be responsive: When the world is driving them crazy, be the soft place, velvety place for them to curl into.
    • Be vulnerable. Open up and let your partner be there for you too.
       
  3. Boredom. The relationship is in a rut it can’t get out of.

    It’s so easy (and when it’s busy, so tempting) to do the same things you’ve always done, but this could lead to a ‘rut’ and eventually drain the relationship.

    Nobody wants to feel like you’re with them out of habit, a beautiful habit though they may be.

    This is difficult if you have small children (or bigger ones – tell me about it!) but if you can just try someone a little out of the ordinary it will be worth it. Here are some ideas:

    • Surprise them with things they love – her favourite magazine, his favourite ice-cream.
    • Bring home her favourite bottle of wine and share it with her.
    • Bring him a DVD he loves and watch it with him.
    • Make dessert.
    • Hang out together, not just next to each other, but together.
    • Send an email asking him/her on a date with a list of restaurants (or take-away) to choose from.
    • Leave a note on the windscreen. Just because.

       

  4. They’ve lost their sense of self.

    Remember the person you fell in love with? What needs to happen to bring them back?

    It’s important that both people in the relationship have a healthy independence with their own friends, passions and interests.

    Hopefully one of their passions will be you, and one of yours will be them, but having something separate to each other is important to maintain a sense of self.

    You are both more than the relationship you’re in and though it’s probably the most important thing in your life, it’s perfectly okay for it not to be the only thing. You fell in love with them because of who they were, not because they were a version of you.

    Problems come when the balance between me and us is wrong – too much time pursuing separate lives can be as damaging as having no separation at all. Support them in pursuing what they love.

  5. Negativity has chipped away.

    Studies have shown that a healthy relationship:

    >>  needs 3 positive emotions to counter every negative emotion.

    >>  needs 5 positive verbal and emotional expressions to counter every negative expression.

    The bottom line is that it needs a lot of good to counter any bad.

    Negativity takes to trust and intimacy with a chainsaw and includes anything that feels bad – eye rolling, sarcasm, the silent treatment, insults, judgements, mocking, nastiness and emotional indifference. It turns a relationship from being one that feeds the people in it to one that starves them.

    The more positive energy there is in a relationship the more affectionate, close and fun it will be.

    Don’t judge and don’t criticise. Ever. That doesn’t mean you can’t speak your mind, just don’t be cruel about it.

  6. Loss of physical intimacy.

    Physical affection is more than sex and is what holds a relationship together.

    It includes any form of affectionate touch and can be as simple as touching his back as you walk past or playing with her hair while you watch TV.

    Research has found that non-sexual intimacy is key to long-term happiness in a relationship.

    Anything skin-to-skin releases the same bonding chemicals in your brain as sex.

    Research has found that humans have an innate ability to interpret emotional messages via touch alone. In a 2009 study, blindfolded people were able to correctly interpret eight distinct emotions (anger, fear disgust, love, gratitude, sympathy, happiness, sadness), solely through the touch of a stranger with 78% accuracy.

    Physical intimacy communicates trust and love and is what makes an intimate relationship different to every other relationship.

    Loss of physical intimacy can be a death knell and is often the first step towards a loss of emotional intimacy. It’s such a critical part of a relationship that when it’s gone, people will be tempted look for it somewhere else.

    Sex is an important part of any relationship, for at least one of you. It’s just another way to fuel the intimacy of your relationship and let the person you love know that they matter. Of course, if both partners agree, a relationship can also survive happily without sex but in these circumstances there will likely be another source of intimacy and affection.

    If physical intimacy is missing and you want to bring it back:

    • Start complimenting and noticing the little things – and let you partner know.
    • Let them know what you appreciate. This will start to bring back the emotional connection.
    • Try to touch at least ten times a day, but start small – touching incidentally (a brush when they walk past), then deliberately (holding hands, your hand on his knee, stroking). This can feel awkward and forced when there hasn’t been any physical contact for a while, but keep going anyway. The important thing is to start.
And finally …

Even the strongest relationships have their highs and lows. Being with someone means being attentive and being involved – this takes constant effort, but what a beautiful reward when it works.

Don’t be fooled by the fairy tales. Perhaps they all come with happy endings but the love you want is one with no ending at all. And that will always take more effort than the flourish of a magic wand.

56 Comments

Lolia

My Fiance and I got engaged in an arranged marriage. We both used to have an amazing time together but he had a lot of complaints about me from the start. I thought that was normal since everyone has problems with each other like even did but I wasn’t straight forward so I wouldn’t say it on his face but he used to every time. After 7-8 months he started saying that he feels we are not on the same page/ we can not connect and he doesn’t feel comfortable telling me things since I don’t understand him. After which I flew to a different country so we had to do long-distance during which he broke the engagement quite many times but I always made him agree to believe that everything is going to be okay. But now, it’s been almost 1 year and a half year to our engagement and he still feels that we have no connection. This is because of which he is so rude to me sometimes and. He wants me to change so many things and he feels that we come from a different background which is why we can’t connect. We have a 6 years ages difference and I’m trying my best to do all I can. But nothing seems to fix and I don’t want it to end. But at the same time, I want it to be a happy and loving relationship, not a forceful one. Please help!

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Lisa

Hey Sigmund
My partner and I have been together for 10 years now. We were both married previously. He has a daughter. I don’t have children. We met when I was just leaving school many years ago but nothing happened between us then. After my divorce we got in touch with one another and here we are 10 years later. My problem is that all of my family live on another continent. My parents are still alive. I have a younger sister who has a daughter and I have two brothers (one of whom I haven’t met before but who has recently moved to the same continent as the rest of the family to be with them). We recently lost my nana of 97 which was very difficult for me because I couldn’t grieve with my family and I couldn’t go to the funeral. My parents are getting on in age and the usual old age things have started to creep in and I am petrified that I don’t make it home on time should something happen to them (or anyone else in my family for that matter). And so I am very desperate to get home to my family. For good. I have already missed out on 10 years with them. I am so scared I miss out on valuable time with them. I want to go home and make the most of the time that I have left with them. My partner’s world is here where we live. His daughter is here. Her mother is here. She is 16 and so will leave home in a few years time but I don’t have time. If I am going to make a move back home I need to do it soon. I am 50 next year. I know what I want to do, I just don’t know how to tell him, what to tell him. It is eating me up inside because every day living with this turmoil is another day away from my family and essentially, another day away from him because my head just isn’t in it. I care very much for him but we are more like the housemates you described above, we have had sexual intercourse once or twice in our 10 years together but certainly not in the last 8 years. Please, if anyone has any advice, I would be so grateful.

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Luke

I’m still very young, but the two real relationships I’ve been in have felt so unfair. Well at least this past one. Me and this girl had been talking a lot, and I had been trying to help her with her anxiety and problems with old boyfriends that she wouldn’t tell me. We have been really good friends for 3 years, and we talked a lot more recently. Anyways, I feel like I was so good to her, and she was so good to me, and then she said she wants to wait. F**k. Now it’s been 3 months, I asked again, and she said she’s done. It feels like everything I try fails with everyone. The first girl I was with it was the fact I was too ugly, and the only thing I have is my advice and personality, but apparently that’s not enough for anyone these days. You can be “the nicest guy in the world” to several people, but it feels like people don’t care and go for the attractive people that’ll treat em like sh*t. Anyways – rant over. Ty for listening if anyone even saw this.

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Nat

I believe you must read the article above more clearly. Perhaps you may be selecting people that aren’t emotionally available. I don’t know what you look like but I can say that most people that want love and intimacy find even what one may consider unattractive completely beautiful. Perhaps you’ve heard the phrase “ we accept the love we believe we deserve.”

Nat

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Anna

reality check: you’re not really nice if you think girls owe you something for being nice. beauty is subjective, but a bitter, entitled “nice guy” attitude will always be a turn off. you need to re-evaluate yourself and your expectations – if you’re genuinely nice, the right girl will come along in due time, no doubt about it.

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Joyce

I believe her leaving, dating no had nothing to do with your looks or you personally. She has STUFF to work through and heal. She as many girls do need the nice guy to be their friend and listen to them the way they want their boyfriends or husbands too, but right from the start they don’t have any intention of being more than just friends. Unfortunately guys like you give up too much of your time and energy helping them and healing them. Take it from the girl who fell for the guy like you. She’s out there just be patient.

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Ann

Hi

My partner and I were together for 9 years 5 living together. He’s in his late 40s and I’m in my mid 50s. He has never been married or had children I was married for 20 years (my ex cheated on me with lots of women) and have two grown up children. We lived a very harmonious life and he prides himself in being a deep person. We never argued at all in our relationship and as I had been married before I never felt I needed that commitment from him. He was a very good partner, loyal and supported me through 2 1/2 years of cancer and my recovery! Over the past year we have been planning a home move. Due to Covid this hasn’t happened but last month I was asking him about the house move & he said his heart was not in it! When I pushed to find out more he said he had been waking up this past 10 months regretting not having a family of his own, I went into the menopause in 2018 …. my daughter fell pregnant around the same time …. he left as he said his mind was scrambled and needed time to decide what he wanted in his life! In the first week he came back and forth sharing loving evenings with me! He left it a month but couldn’t speak to me but text me saying he thinks it’s time for him to move on …. I’m devastated the only two men I have had in my life have gone as they want younger women I realise now on reflection he’s never committed to any relationship long term …. I’m the longest he’s been with! Feeling very sad and lonely ….. I just don’t understand what went wrong!

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Mel

This sounds so similar to my life at the moment. There was a substantial age difference between me and my ex partner I never felt love like he gave me before. He treated me so well like he adored me. We had the children discussion in which he always said he would rather have me. Then one day out of the blue he said we couldn’t be together anymore we never argued he was wonderful to me. He suddenly decided that he did want kids at least a couple I felt devasted Cried for weeks and weeks. I can totally emphasise with you.

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sindi

Sounds like he might be having a midlife crisis. with your cancer, it could have caused him to realize life is too short to waste. he’s probably realizing the parts of life he’s missed out on and also may be afraid of losing you to death. i’m so sorry you are going through this, but find your happy and as i’m sure, you have learned with having cancer that each day is a blessing in and of itself.

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Maria

My husband left me for another woman 9 years ago. He kept saying he wants to come back but didn’t so 2 year’s ago I said I can’t wait any longer and stooped contact but he still buy me Christmas presents why does he do that?

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E

I think he was more torn over the fact you already had a family and a Man you wanted to be with before him, I’m in the same situation I love my woman to death but for some reason I can’t let go the fact she had a kid with someone before me, I wanted to start a family of my own. I don’t think it had to do with the younger women just some things he probably couldn’t let go, sorry to here that though.. stay strong 🙏

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Chantal

Hello my husband of 13 years wants to leave me because I’m in and out of work just unlucky with my jobs (sexual harassment) but I do want to work and am looking for work…We’re not struggling for money he makes good money but we’re not millionaires..but but what we have (we eat well, have a house, reasonably well dressed and enough to do activities once in a while._But he never wants to do anything…Anything cheap or free doesn’t interest him so we don’t do anything. I do everything around the house and groceries but I guess if I’m not earning it doesn’t count much._.We also have a 13 year old Son who wishes we’d do family outings.__do you think he should want to leave me because I’m not working?

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John

I love my woman she have a child but we’re not have intimate time and whenever I bring up she tells me to relax….. Her son takes a lot her time and I feel used…. I do love her but I don’t know if she feels the same way as well

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been in the same boat

She does, but children take up a lot of time AND energy. try taking some of the load off of her plate. such as taking care of the child in the evening after dinner so she can relax and take a hot bubble bath or shower and spend some time ….alone so she can recharge. do this a few times without the expectation of sex and show interest in her life and appreciate her for 1. being a good mom 2. taking care of the household and help her not feel unimportant and valued for her contribution and she should come around when she feels valued and desired by you.

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Nobulali

My bf didn’t see me before he leaves for December holidays. He told me his fixing his car and took a bath pick his friend and they left without seeing me. I told him if he leaves without seeing me next year we are done. He left

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Pooja

I love my boyfriend deeply and wanted to take care of him to meet him but it feels like he avoid to meet with me and we had not meet for one year still I love him and express love for him but nothing happened! In the beginning of our relationship we love each other deeply and he also did care of me love me even we had very strong emotional bonding as well as physical intimacy in our relationship but now he suddenly leaves me by telling me that there is no future for us because we are different in caste.I don’t know what happened to him why he reacts like this.how do I get him back? How do I convince him for meeting?

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priyanka

Dont b sad. U know what, i was in relation wid a guy from last 3 years.. he showed alot of care and love for me -even in our personal time as well as in public. But I dont knw what happened to him 4 months back, he started ignorning me.. i used to get angry with him, he even dint took a single initiative to talk to me and make things right again . I was shocked and disheartened tat the guy who cried first seeing me in pain, is also not ready to talk to me even in worse situation of our relation. Then at last I thought to threaten him saying tat i will do breakup so tat he again be the same as he was earlier, by having the fear of loosing me… but u know what, he agreed to this and dint even told me once-“yr! M sry. i cant leave widout u”. its a recent one.. i m feeling very low..but i want to tell u dont be sad and dont miss him coz he dint deserved u… its good tat ppl who are fake are gone from ur life… nd u knw wat as u said tat last m due to caste problem, he brokeup, i dont agree with this.. i beleive tat ppl who want to leave,they just need one topic to leave… be happy! nd also show him tat u r also happy widout him (through social media).. then he will regret.. and i know someday yours will also come as we say “har kutte ka din ata h”……… just remember, u r superb and he wasn’t worth u as well as your love………

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vipin

Hi Priyanka . Thanks for taking the time and respond about your views. its great to see that you feel her pain . one suggestion : try and avoid writing derogatory and low remarks online .

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Shirley

I agree with you that he is not worth it. I was with man 10 yrs and he decided not to be with me, he said we don’t get along but he still love me. He left me when covid just started, I just sold my house was supposed to move in with him he said no. My friend says I deserve better than that go your own way will be happier without him who is a selfish person. And not to look back. He will be dealing with karma later in his life

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PoorGuy

Hi, I have a girlfriend who is a workaholic, as in totally in to her work. We’ve only been together for a couple of months when she decided to go abroad for work, the only communication we have is thru messaging apps, she work 16 hours a day at most times, and rarely get a day off. We have some troubles about communication, and the only thing I was asking for her is a “good morning” when she wakes up, and “I’m head to work” when she’s going to leave the house, Also “I’m going to be late” when she’s having OT that is unexpected, so I know when to wait uplate, her OT takes until 7 in the morning sometimes. That was my only wish for her to do, but she miss that almost everyday, her reasons is just because she is going to be late at work so she missed to say good morning and head to work. Is it too much for her to ask what I was asking? It only takes couple of seconds to do that right? We are having some arguments about this, we talked already but still same shit happens.

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Cheryl

A girl who loves you or is into you can do any of those things you wish especially when she is the busy type because you have given her the opportunity to make up for the moments she is unable to communicate. Busy or not those are quite compulsory for me in a relationship. Pick up phone immediately I wake up and say a good morning, which means I think about you as I wake up and it doesn’t take more than one seconds and also you should be the last person I speak with before I sleep (currently I and my boyfriend must say good morning and goodnight before sleeping even when tired- in cases of tiredness a quick 1 minute of video call but never miss it). Step back and if she doesn’t adjust her ways then you probably lost her already.

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Yan

Hi help me out.
I’ve been in a relationship with my partner for 6 years. We have a beautiful 3 years old daughter. We enjoyed life daily like any normal couple and family would do. She puts in a lot of effort to build and keep our marriage on track and i appreictae and acknowledge her hard work very much .

Just a week ago I took her out for a night out with friends and got pissed with one of my friends because he was continuously touching and tapping my wife which I disagreed to & I reacted under the influence of liquor hit him, my partner was standing on my side and with that anger and unintentionally I hit her too and she got a cut on her eye lid.

I regret my actions and the way I reacted and I’m very downhearted, saddened It was that unfortunate moment that jeopardized our marriage now and I lost and dont kniw what to do.

She took off with our daughter and is staying with her family . She published the bruise on her face on social media and I’m very downhearted at this time regretful of my reactions.

I begged her and texted her saying sorry to her , I also texted her parents apologizing of this unfortunate incident that happended.

I’m lost here now. I need divine intervention in my life. I don’t know what words to put together and say sorry & to seek her forgiveness .
Please help.

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Zoran

When both of you have wife(husband), not partner(partner is kind of person you have business with) maybe will be better for both of you.

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Alexis

Is it wrong for me to question why your wife allowed another man to continuously touch her in front of you? Seems the line was obviously crossed and she allowed it and then blamed you for reacting the way a man in love would have.

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priyanka

I think you should go and talk to her face to face..and let her know the reason behind your against action towards her.. tell her how possessive u got when some1 else touched her infront of u… And apololize to her… If she wants to be with u then c would b waiting for u to come and talk to her otherwise if c dont want to make things right and hve a beginning agn then u do anything, tat will not matter to her… as u know, the people who want to leave just want 1 reason to go away…

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km

I have been in a marriage for eleven (11) years and the relationship for twenty-three (23) years. I am ten years his junior and I had two (2) children when we met. I wanted to get away from my current town because I felt like I was drowning. We moved to a completely different state together and I thought I was in love with this man. I had two (2) children by him and he helped me raise my two oldest children who went on to college and landed really good jobs. He became physically, emotionally, and mentally abusive for the next twelve (12) years. I was embarrassed, humiliated, ashamed, and hurt for twelve (12) years. When we went around my family, I would always smile like everything was ok, knowing that it wasn’t. A few years ago, we had a huge fight and I was so tired and afraid, I called the police and took out a restraining order against him until he called and called apologizing. Needless to say, I took him back. I became enraged at myself, I became bitter, angry, and resentful; feelings that I have to this day. I moved out a couple of years ago but I still came back to this man. I thought I loved him but I knew I had no self-esteem to stay away. When I came back, I prayed and I prayed for strength and guidance. I have a good job and I have made the decision to leave for good. My children are all adults and I have so much anxiety being in the same house with this man even when he’s seemingly having a good day. I cannot get over the past and all I see when I look at him is an evil monster. I’m not sure how I got to this point in my life but just making the decision to leave brings me clarity. I knew the relationship was a mistake from day one but I stayed for my children.

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Vaibhav

Hi, please help me out.

I had this girlfriend soon after I graduated, I was still looking for a job when I bumped into her. She was interested in me initially but after a 2 months she told me she isnt sexually attracted to me. Later when I broke up she came back saying she was highly stressed when she told me that and she doesnt really mean it. We have had several fights in this long distance relationship. She comes back to the state every two months. Also she has her past which brings up saying she has lost confidence in relationships so she doesnt want me to take decisions specifically for her.
I am always stressed. This girl has once cheated on me in the past, 4 years ago. Its hard to trust her.
I also feel inferior because she always shows off her looks and hardly gives any compliment to me.
I feel emotionally drained too.

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Anjana

What is the solution for my problem?
we are in dating(happily) for last two years, but suddenly he left me and back to his first love,she was married lady,after couples of month they’re break up for family issues. Currently he is single and still I need him but he keep avoiding me and also told me that “i can’t forget my first love so try to understand me”

What should I do now..?

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Karen Young

He has made it very clear that you will never be his number one. There is a better relationship for you, but not with this man. It’s time to stop looking st how to get him back and to start adjusting to letting him go. There will come a time when you will be grateful you did.

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GBK

My husband and I have been married for 12 years and is an amazing man. He is a super hard worker, he helps with chores, he is an amazing father. If a diaper ever needed to be changed and he saw it first he would just take care of it, even if we were in public. He is there for the girls at all of their events, even girl scouts he will volunteer to help. He has helped my aging parents many times. He accepts my quirks, my scathingly brilliant ideas, and things like glitter and crafts in the house or the occational rescued animal. He definitely shows his love of our family. I would go as far as saying that I would say that he may even adore us. I watch other families and the fathers seem to care more about making money, work, having their guy time away from their wives and kids or let their wives do all of the household and kid duties.
I know this, and I feel so blessed to have him in my life and yet here I am completely confused as to why I also feel so done. He has one of the most negative, trouble causing mother in the world, maybe universe. He has no ambition, even though he is ridiculously smart and strong. He is self deprecating and will tell you that he can’t do things. “I can’t go back to school for my masters, I will never be able to afford to.” “I can never build muscle” “I can never make up night time stories for the kids”. Trying to do things he deems as impossible makes him go flush in the face. He doesn’t like socializing, he has no interest in putting the effort into having his own friends. He is supposedly just fine with having just his family in his life. He is very inefficient and not proactive. Yet will be the first one on the scene when things go wrong and can be great at fixing them. It is all so confusing.
On special days he rarely does something. He doesn’t forget about birthdays or anniversaries, he may be the first to acknowledge it. But he will then tell you sorry and how he didn’t do anything. I mean, he apologizes right away and moves on. When he does get a gift every now and then he goes with material goods. Like a blender (I had said in the store that it was a good price and he bought one right there and then, then a week later on Christmas told me that was my gift.) Other times, especially when he really liked the gifts he received from me, I make get a gift for that holiday a week or two later. Then once in a blue moon he hits it out of the park and will be on time with something useful or with great meaning that makes your heart melt. This is like once every 2-3 years.
I’m not about just stuff, I really am the crazy ‘it’s the thought that counts kind of girl’ for our ‘tin’ anniversary I made him a tin hat with blinking lights. It was so funny! If I get him actual things I plan for it to get what he has been looking and wanting. I do ‘just because notes and goodies’ he seems to love them and I enjoy doing them for him as a way of saying, ‘thank you for being you’.
He will give me excuses ‘I didn’t have time to do anything’, ‘I am no good at giving gifts’, ‘you always say that I don’t have to buy you things’ (yes, no money needed to show you care) erg. I have explained that while i love all that he does and how great he is, this makes me feel hurt. That it makes me feel like he doesn’t care or that it is not important to him. He then pretty much tells me that I can come up with my own plan and give it to him. I tried that, it doesn’t feel right. His proposal went down exactly like I said was my dream proposal. Location, timing, even the ridiculously expensive ring I jokening pointed out saying ‘that is the one!’ Which is great right!? But why did it then feel like i practically proposed to myself?
Am I selfish? I know that he cares about us, I know that he loves me, I know that he looks after our kids and me. He does so much, yet I feel like he is just doing what he feels he signed up for as a husband. Anything above that is not needed nor important. That doing something like writing me a note or picking a flower for me or a midday message is just painful for him to do. Even if he knows that it is important to me. I feel like this makes me the horrible one, because I should probably just be happy with what I have. Yet, I am here, confused and still feeling lonely.

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Hey Sigmund

It sounds like what you’re missing is romance! There is nothing wrong with wanting this. That closeness and affection is a very valid need. It may be difficult for your husband to understand this if his need for it isn’t as strong, or if it is a need that isn’t as hungry in him because it is being met by you. There is no easy fix for this, particularly if it is a part of who he is. As with anything in a relationship there is nothing like talking about it. I can hear it’s not about ‘stuff’ for you but about gestures and acts of love. Make sure when you talk to him about this that you also acknowledge the tings you also love about him. Appreciation sounds as though it is as important for him as romance is for you.

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Tash

Hi I know exactly how you feel. I have been with my husband for 10 yrs and in that time I have asked for romance, but it was just too hard for him. We’ve had Many talks about it as the intimacy was disappearing in our relationship. Along with those problems we have trouble communicating & I haven’t felt supported with our 2 kids for quite some time
My husband is a hard worker as well & has a kind heart. And like your husband he has very little self esteem. Has no get up & go. He relies on us souly. I have to pretty much organize for him to see his friends.
I have unfortunately fallen out of love with him & lost attraction over time & have lost any will to try to make it work. I feel there’s nothing left. What brought us together in the beginning is not there anymore & I feel I want more than he can offer me.

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noah

So this guy sounds a lot like me. Loves his kids, does everything he can, and wants to avoid conflict and other conflict theorists to live his life happily. You are missinterpretting his actions as weak and saying he has no ambition. Raising your beautiful children is the highest ambition anyone could ever have. He understands what is important in life, and you havent figured it out yet.

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John

Sometimes one doesn’t know they are doing wrong. I am in the same situation but running away from the problem dont solve it. Both have to face the problem and work it out. If you feel like leave you shouldn’t you still have some love in you just let him know what you want and give it time. The kids will love both parent together. Work on your relationship every marriage have their problems.

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Edward

Hae

Have been dating a girl for 2years now,but something brings our relationship down.
She loves doing a wedding which in my case I find it irrerevant,now she wants us to break up since I don’t want to wed her.what should I or one do?

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Mera

I think your husband sounds very much like mine ( lack of friends, dedication to family)and I believe mine to be Autistic now. My husband just can’t do the emotional things that I need as a social human being but I also feel ungrateful as he is so committed to the family unit. It’s a tough one…

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Hope

Wow, GBK and Tash, this sounds so much like my current situation and I am downright hurting. I want us to communicate but he refuse to and makes a lot of excuses. He makes it seem that all my concerns are unimportant and just too much drama. All I want is for us to reconnect and ignite our relationship. To have assurance that we still love each other because sometimes his actions and inactions show otherwise. I have been the sole breadwinner in our almost 11 years of marriage with 2 beautiful children and i just gave birth recently. I appreciate him I truly do. I try to be positive and look at the bright side but when we have an argument, he yells at me and throw personal attacks that are uncalled for, it hurts so much. Of course I would feel bad then he would blame me for everything and accuse me of being moody and difficult. I don’t feel I deserve any of it and now it has come to a point that I feel like he’s just using me because he has no stable income, if at all. I pray I do the right thing for the sake of my children.

Since he refuse to give time and attention to listen and talk without judging, leaving makes a whole lot of sense right now. It’s so hard to live with someone who has become a stranger.

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Joanna

I have been married 25 years off and on. I am 65 and he is 75. He has left 5 times-the longest was 5 years. Each time I have taken him back. There has been no infidelity. The entire marriage I have complained that I am always at the bottom of his list of priorities. The first five years he was an alcoholic. I wish treated as the second class citizen I’m still am. My mantra was: what about me? we have no children together. Recently he has admitted He Has Turned Me Out 4 25 years. He also admitted that my opinion has had no merit all those years. As he’s getting better that keeps the same behaviors.
My problem is never knew I never knew leaving was a choice for me. I grew up in the home where my mother was a quadriplegic c & could not leave so leaving never occurred to me.
Since his retirement in September I have been exposed to his Behaviour on a daily basis. We have no communication literally. He shows no empathy towards me but I have seen him exhibit it towards other people. This causes me a great deal of hurt and anguish which quickly turns to anger.

Then I become a maniac. Each time he exhibits
old behavior again, it opens the floodgates of emotions I have experienced for the past 25 years.
My goal is acceptance without resentments but I have not been able to get there.

I am FAR from perfect. I feel like the right thing to do is leave but I don’t want to be alone. I am his 5th wife. All of the other last a very short time except his last one-they bore a child together and she left him. Being a bit a narcissist, he never got over it. She-the ex- controlled our marriage for many years. When I objected to anything they conspired about, he said it was for the good of their daughter. This was not true. We attended the ex’s church, saw her family-they live in my town-and he treated his ex better than he treated me.

I am stuck. I need help. We are in counseling and it is not helping. Any suggestions?

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Hey Sigmund

Joanna I can hear his this is hurting you. There is no magic solution here. There are two choices – to leave or to stay. The saddest thing is that changing him isn’t one of those choices. You have been with this man for a long time and he has shown you how he feels about you. That is no reflection on you and a very sad reflection on him.

What is your goal of counselling? If it is to see him change it is not surprising that it isn’t working. What is his goal for counselling? Is it to treat you better or to get you to change? This might be something to raise in your session. If his goal is to treat you better, what is he doing outside of counselling to support this? If the answer is nothing, or if his goal of counselling is to change you in ways that won’t work for you, (such as making you more tolerant or patient so he can keep treating you as he does) then perhaps you’d next move should be counselling to support you in moving on from this relationship. You deserve better than what you are getting, and with the right support you can move towards this.

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Matthew Coast

Great job with this article. I agree! Especially with the loss of sense of self… always important to maintain a sense of self in a relationship.

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Richard Watson

I have just come out of a 27 year relationship with one child all those things relate to me although there were other factors as well but it started going wrong somewhere. I believe i did all of the above but never received them back . After my wife left me for the forth time in four years i finally found the courage to end the marriage myself.To my complete amazement i met a wonderful women who loves the same as i love know i have all of the above 🙂

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Hey Sigmund

When you let go of the things that are wrong for you, the things that are right for you can find you. It sounds as though you have somebody beautiful in your life who fills it with the love and light you deserve. I’m so pleased you had the courage to clear the way for her to find you.

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Lillie

My husband and I been married 12 years.I am unhappy with our marriage.He is always negative and talked negative.Yesterday we got argument because the way I was acting (tired). I feel liked fall out of love.I am thinking about leaving (third marriage).

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Hey Sigmund

12 years is a long time and it’s important to know that all relationships go through stages – sometimes they’re close, sometimes they move apart for a while. It must be very difficult living with someone negative though, and nobody can know what’s best for you better than you do. Here is some information about getting the spark back if you’re not quite ready to let go. This article is about finding the desire again https://www.heysigmund.com/desire-in-long-term-relationships-getting-it-keeping-it-and-finding-it-when-its-gone/ and ways to recharge your relationship https://www.heysigmund.com/9-surefire-ways-to-recharge-your-relationship/ . I hope this helps.

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Lisa

But what if there are multiple infidelities, verbal abuse and disrespect mixed with generosity and support? Then on my end, withdrawal, disdain and disrespect for his actions which make it hard to be affectionate even when he is nice. It’s a confusing, vicious cycle with both of us accusing the other for being the cause of our unhappiness. Is there such a thing as too much water under the bridge even though we’ve been together for 25 years and have 3 beautiful children?

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Hey Sigmund

25 years is a long time and it sounds as though you have invested a lot into this relationship. In my opinion, it’s always possible for too much water to pass under the bridge, but you’re the only one who can decide if this is the case for you. An investment in a relationship doesn’t always mean the investment will be worth it and sadly, all the love and affection in the world doesn’t guarantee long term happiness.

Your happiness is so important. The question I always think is the one to ask yourself is, ‘Do I feel good more than I feel bad in this relationship?’ Think about this with an open heart. There is cycle that happens in a lot of relationships where tension mounts until it reaches breaking point, as which point something happens that causes a disconnect – there is a fight, an affair – something that causes a major disconnect. After that there is the honeymoon part of the cycle where you come back together. You reconnect. You hear regret and a commitment to work on the relationship and you hear love for you. This is great for a while (which is why it’s called the honeymoon) until the tension starts to mount again and off you go on another cycle. The problem with this cycle is that the good part of the cycle – the honeymoon part, however small – is enough to keep you in the relationship because you keep waiting for the day that the honeymoon doesn’t end. Generally, the time between cycles gets shorter and the cycles can become more volatile. Sometimes, even though you are together, it can feel as though the other person walked out the door a long time ago and stopped fighting for the relationship. In this case, it’s very hard to feel affection. It’s important to remember that you can’t fight to keep a relationship when one person has disengaged. You sound loyal and generous and committed and you deserve someone who knows what they have when they have you. Nobody can answer about your relationship except for you. If it’s worth the fight, keep fighting, but only you can answer that.

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Pi

Dear Lisa. Verbal abuse, disrespect and multiple infidelities. Either you want these things in your life, or you don’t. I have been in a similar relationship. Like you say, it is very confusing when it is mixed with love and support. But the fact remains: there is verbal abuse, disprespect and multiple infidelities. And confusion is immensely energy consuming. What it comes down to is how much you value yourself and what you believe you are worth. And, of course, fear. Fear of never finding love again, fear of loss of security. I took me so many years to realize this for myself. The answer is, if all these negative aspects are there, it does not matter how many positive aspects are there. You should never accept being subject to any of the things you describe. You deserve better. You deserve so much better. Start by believing in that.

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Lisa

Just went back and read your comments again. I wanted to thank you for your kind, clear words and let you know that they were impactful. I feel like I’m on the right path, but as you articulate, it is fear that keeps me questioning if I did the right thing by divorcing my husband. Thanks again for reminding me that I do deserve so much better.

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Man

Hi, I’m 31 yrs and my wife is 26. We got married 4 and half years ago. We’ve 2 children. 2nd one is just one month old. Wife is in her Mother’s house still starting of lockdown Feb’20. We could not met each other for five months. Visited her during her child delivery week. These long gaps have increased the distance between us. She doesn’t believe me and constantly blames me. I’m irresponsible, lier, characterless, all the bad things a man can be. But it’s not true. She had a strong hate towards me and my family. She has a tendency to pick reference from past and connect the wrong non connecting dots and through the hateful words to me about me and my family in phone. I know, hate cannot be vanished by showing hate. Sometimes I can’t control and express my anger in phone. She has another habit of tring to control and manipulate me. I can’t be cooled if someone tries to control me. She wants total financial control of my earning. Though I’hv shown all the transaction details, she doesn’t beleive me. She thinks, I give money to some people.Why should I give money to people! If I give money to my patents, she have problems for that also. She says, if they have money, why does they take money from their son? Now she is asking for purchasing a flat for her. Her point is, her parants will not keep her in their house and she is not interested to stay with my parents. Now, in this uncertain job market I have to take loan to give her a flat! I can’t control myself. Lossing my temperament talking to her. My stand point, I respect marriage and want to keep the knot tight and be a responsible father of 2 children. But, my problem is I can’t love her. Her behaviour is making me angry. When we are meeting after the birth of 2nd child, either we are both cold to each other, or no talk. I need peace being with her and 2 children but not with a quarrelling, greedy wife.

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CD

Lack of good communication skills on both sides, and lack of transparency/authenticity/self-esteem. Those are pretty much what lead to all these other things listed here.

Reply

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We teach our kids to respect adults and other children, and they should – respect is an important part of growing up to be a pretty great human. There’s something else though that’s even more important – teaching them to respect themselves first. 

We can’t stop difficult people coming into their lives. They might be teachers, coaches, peers, and eventually, colleagues, or perhaps people connected to the people who love them. What we can do though is give our kids independence of mind and permission to recognise that person and their behaviour as unacceptable to them. We can teach our kids that being kind and respectful doesn’t necessarily mean accepting someone’s behaviour, beliefs or influence. 

The kindness and respect we teach our children to show to others should never be used against them by those broken others who might do harm. We have to recognise as adults that the words and attitudes directed to our children can be just as damaging as anything physical. 

If the behaviour is from an adult, it’s up to us to guard our child’s safe space in the world even harder. That might be by withdrawing support for the adult, using our own voice with the adult to elevate our child’s, asking our child what they need and how we can help, helping them find their voice, withdrawing them from the environment. 

Of course there will be times our children do or say things that aren’t okay, but this never makes it okay for any adult in your child’s life to treat them in a way that leads them to feeling ‘less than’.

Sometimes the difficult person will be a peer. There is no ‘one certain way’ to deal with this. Sometimes it will involve mediation, role playing responses, clarifying the other child’s behaviour, asking for support from other adults in the environment, or letting go of the friendship.

Learning that it’s okay to let go of relationships is such an important part of full living. Too often we hold on to people who don’t deserve us. Not everyone who comes into our lives is meant to stay and if we can help our children start to think about this when they’re young, they’ll be so much more empowered and deliberate in their relationships when they’re older.♥️
When we are angry, there will always be another emotion underneath it. It is this way for all of us. 

Anger itself is a valid emotion so it’s important not to dismiss it. Emotion is e-motion - energy in motion. It has to find a way out, which is why telling an angry child to calm down or to keep their bodies still will only make things worse for them. They might comply, but their bodies will still be in a state of distress. 

Often, beneath an angry child is an anxious one needing our help. It’s the ‘fight’ part of the fight or flight response. As with all emotions, anger has a job to do - to help us to safety through movement, or to recruit support, or to give us the physical resources to meet a need or to change something that needs changing. It doesn’t mean it does the job well, because an angry brain means the feeling brain has the baton, while the thinking brain sits out for a while. What it means is that there is a valid need there and this young person is doing their very best to meet it, given their available resources in the moment or their developmental stage. 

Children need the same thing we all need when we’re feeling fierce - to be seen,  heard, and supported; to find a way to get the energy out, either with words or movement. Not to be shut down or ‘fixed’. 

Our job isn’t to stop their anger, but to help them find ways to feel it and express it in ways that don’t do damage. This will take lots of experience, and lots of time - and that’s okay.♥️
The SCCR Online Conference 2021 is a wonderful initiative by @sccrcentre (Scottish Centre for Conflict Resolution) which will explore ’The Power of Reconnection’. I’ve been working with SCCR for many years. They do incredible work to build relationships between young people and the important adults around them, and I’m excited to be working with them again as part of this conference.

More than ever, relationships matter. They heal, provide a buffer against stress, and make the world feel a little softer and safer for our young people. Building meaningful connections can take time, and even the strongest relationships can feel the effects of disconnection from time to time. As part of this free webinar, I’ll be talking about the power of attachment relationships, and ways to build relationships with the children and teens in your life that protect, strengthen, and heal. 

The workshop will be on Monday 11 October at 7pm Brisbane, Australia time (10am Scotland time). The link to register is in my story.
There are many things that can send a nervous system into distress. These can include physiological (tired, hungry, unwell), sensory overload/ underload, real or perceived threat (anxiety), stressed resources (having to share, pay attention, learn new things, putting a lid on what they really think or want - the things that can send any of us to the end of ourselves).

Most of the time it’s developmental - the grown up brain is being built and still has a way to go. Like all beautiful, strong, important things, brains take time to build. The part of the brain that has a heavy hand in regulation launches into its big developmental window when kids are about 6 years old. It won’t be fully done developing until mid-late 20s. This is a great thing - it means we have a wide window of influence, and there is no hurry.

Like any building work, on the way to completion things will get messy sometimes - and that’s okay. It’s not a reflection of your young one and it’s not a reflection of your parenting. It’s a reflection of a brain in the midst of a build. It’s wondrous and fascinating and frustrating and maddening - it’s all the things.

The messy times are part of their development, not glitches in it. They are how it’s meant to be. They are important opportunities for us to influence their growth. It’s just how it happens. We have to be careful not to judge our children or ourselves because of these messy times, or let the judgement of others fill the space where love, curiosity, and gentle guidance should be. For sure, some days this will be easy, and some days it will feel harder - like splitting an atom with an axe kind of hard.

Their growth will always be best nurtured in the calm, loving space beside us. It won’t happen through punishment, ever. Consequences have a place if they make sense and are delivered in a way that doesn’t shame or separate them from us, either physically or emotionally. The best ‘consequence’ is the conversation with you in a space that is held by your warm loving strong presence, in a way that makes it safe for both of you to be curious, explore options, and understand what happened.♥️
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#mindfulparenting #positiveparenting #parenting
When children are struggling to physically control their bodies, we support them in ways that strengthen. If they’re struggling to write, for example, we don’t punish or shame them. We guide them and show them by doing ‘with’. We also lift them up, ‘I know you can do this. Keep going. You’re getting better and better.’ We also don’t wait for perfection. ‘You wrote a number 4! Nice work you!’ We sit with and do with, over and over. We also give them a break when they get frustrated or upset.

It’s the same for behaviour. Big behaviour comes from big feelings or attempts to meet valid needs. (And all needs are valid.) It is this way for all of us. When we’re upset or angry, the last thing we need is for someone to tell us we can’t be, or to lecture or shame us. Kids are the same.

With kids and teens though, there can be a sense that we need to ‘do’ something in response to big behaviour, so we lay down punishments or consequences with a view to teaching a lesson.

But - unless the consequences make sense (punishments never do), they risk teaching lessons we don’t want them to learn:
- that the environment is fragile and won’t tolerate mistakes. 
- that secrecy and lies are a safer option than coming to us. 
- shut down. They put a lid on expressing big feelings. The feelings will still be there, but they aren’t getting the vital guidance from us on how to calm them (through co-regulation). The risk is that they will eventually call on unhealthy ways to calm the fierce stress neurobiology that comes with big feelings.

Consequences have to make sense. Maybe it’s to repair or reconnect. Discipline has to teach. It’s not about what we do to them but about what we nurture within them. Is that trust and the capacity to learn and grow? Or is it fear or shame.

Often the only response that’s needed is a loving conversation with us. ‘What happened?’ ‘What were you hoping would happen?’ ‘What did you need that you didn’t get?’ What can you do differently next time?’ ‘How can you put things right?’ Because if discipline is about learning, the most powerful consequence is the strong, loving conversation with us that lights their way and speaks softly to the safety of us.♥️

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