Three Main Reasons Relationships Burn Out

There was a popular song in the ’70s written by Paul Simon, “Fifty Ways to Leave Your Lover.” It was a punchy, satirical song that provided “logical” drama-free departures from relationships. The lyrics proposed being logical when it’s over and when you’re done, simply “set yourself free.”

Of course, a relationship rarely ends without some pain. But, often, people push their loved one away without even realizing what they’ve done. These endings are the most painful because they are never expected. In most cases, the reject-ee felt everything was just fine and never expected to get dumped.

Solid relationships can endure just about anything. Even betrayals can survive when people are genuinely remorseful, make amends, and the betrayed person forgives. In fact, some of these relationships even become more cohesive, having survived the most extreme challenges. But believe it or not, these are not the main reasons for relationship burnout. Instead, betrayal often results from other causes, most of which you might never suspect.

Too Nice

People who are afraid of conflict are asking for trouble. This person will do anything to avoid a fight and always go out of their way to be nice. There’s a difference between being nice and being kind. Too nice means you’ve departed the kind zone and want to be agreeable to the point that you invite disrespect.

Nice people can’t have arguments. But if they’re angry, they may be passive in their anger (forget to keep an agreement, throw away your favorite trinket) and then sugary sweet about it when confronted. Kind people can have arguments, but they do it with tact. They don’t make accusations, they’re upfront about their feelings, but they express those emotions with the intent to make things better, not worse.

You never know what a nice person wants from you. They are too busy trying to please and often feel undeserving. But they give their heart and soul whether their partner is deserving or not. A kind person is upfront about asking for what they need. They are not afraid to show their authentic selves and express their desires.

There’s needs to be healthy tension in a relationship to make it real. Too nice is boring and doesn’t feel real. The other person always wonders how the nice person really feels about anything or if they have any feelings at all.

Take the Other for Granted

I’ve seen it hundreds of times in working with couples. People get comfortable in a relationship and slip into bad habits. They stop putting forth the effort that made themselves attractive and desirable to the other person. A person who was active and fun becomes a couch potato. Someone who ignores their partner’s need for help and pretends they don’t notice. If the partner brings it up, they often get pushback rather than correction. These are all examples of taking someone (or being taken) for granted.

Focusing on what you don’t like is sure to turn your partner off. It’s essential to be mindful and appreciative of what someone is doing for you. It’s easy to point out the negative, but you could offer two things you like about the person for every dislike. We all want to feel validated.

Sometimes, one partner carries all the financial weight in a relationship and isn’t appreciated for the hard work that pays the bills. Likewise, someone may take great effort to care for the home and is never acknowledged. People forget to say thank you or express how much they appreciate the qualities in the other. Often, certain things are just expected, and one person does all the giving while the other just takes.

No one really owes anyone anything other than honesty and integrity. Everything else is an act of love and contribution and must be appreciated. Otherwise, that person will be vulnerable to getting the affirmations elsewhere.

Make that Person You’re Only World

It’s heartbreaking to witness the suffering of someone who’s lost a long-term relationship for no reason other than they had no other life. It’s like watching the sun disappear from the earth’s rotation. The planet, being totally dependent, can only wither and die without the sunlight.

Some people make their “other” the only thing that matters to them. They will drop whatever they are doing for that person. They cancel appointments, work, or anything that stands in the way of time together. They have no enjoyable outside interests, and eat, live, and breathe for their one and only.

While most people like to feel wanted and needed, they also like individuation. Having outside interests and contributions keeps a relationship interesting. It also takes the pressure off the one in whom is placed all the focus. Being the only thing that matters to someone is more like being co-hostages instead of partners.

Relationships are like nature, and they need continuous flow and change. If they become stagnant, they die. However, when both persons keep moving, they also keep growing, and their connection becomes deeper. This is true of any relationship — lovers, friends, family, work — love is love in all its forms. Therefore, love is ever-expanding and must always find itself. Effort, authenticity, appreciation, and individuality keep it alive.

Dr. Donna Marks is a licensed psychotherapist and an addictions counselor. She is certified in Gestalt Therapy, Psychoanalysis, Hypnosis, and Sex Therapy.

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Dr. Donna Marks

Dr. Donna Marks is a licensed psychotherapist and an addictions counselor. She is certified in Gestalt Therapy, Psychoanalysis, Hypnosis, and Sex Therapy.