Why do Relationships Fail: The 8 Primary Relationship Failure Patterns
If you’re asking the question, “Why do relationships fail?” you’re likely experiencing one of two things. Either you’re recovering from a breakup or divorce, or you’re likely considering one or the other. Conscious partnerships thrive because they know the best ways to keep the love strong and the passion alive. Most importantly, conscious soul mates stay present to exactly what is needed to avoid these very very common reasons relationships fail.
Do not let this article give you a reason to be hard on yourself. Even more importantly, do not allow this article to breed blame or resentment for your partner. Either of those responses will only serve to reinforce the struggle you already face in your relationship. Do let this article wake you up from the unconscious habits that, like so many other romantic patterns, you probably engage in more frequently than you might imagine.
Strong, connected partnerships can withstand an occasional faux pas or unconscious outburst. But most of the eight relationship failure patterns, and their associated habits, run subtle and deep. You probably didn’t see them happening until one, or both of you, realized the unresolved hurt and anger could no longer be ignored.
Why do my relationships fail? Relationship Self-Inquiry
Wanting a relationship to change or wanting a partner to change will get you nowhere… You can not change anyone or anything but yourself, but the good news is, with the right information and support, it’s fairly easy to change how you show up in relationship. And, that means your relationship, present or future, will improve dramatically. Yes. You have that much power.
So as you read through these 8 relationship failure patterns, the best way to use this information to improve your relationship, or future relationship, is to stay focused on you. For each pattern, ask yourself, “When do I do this?” and “How do I do this?” These relationship failure patterns are so prevalent and insidious, yet so subtle and mostly unconscious, that you’ll be better off assuming you do rather than you don’t run this pattern.
Here’s the best part of exploring for yourself, “Why do my relationships fail?” Once you bring the unconscious conscious, change happens. It has to. So, by being honest with yourself here, you’ll be propelled into the place where massive relationship transformation starts. Go easy. Be gentle. No blame. No shame. No mistakes.
This is how we learn.
Contractions, mistakes, missteps, regrets are your teachers and guides. These, albeit uncomfortable and often painful, experiences show you the direct way to the life and love you do want. If you’ll do the self-inquiry, if you’ll release the baggage, if you’ll practice conscious loving.
Relationship Failure Pattern #1 – Self-trust Issues in Relationships
When we bring up trust in our retreats and programs, most participants immediately think of trusting a partner. Asking, “Can I trust him?” or “Can I trust her?” Although it appears as a natural question whose answer lets us know whether or not we can feel safe to let down our guard and open up in a relationship, this question also leads you astray.
The problem with putting your focus on trusting another is that your capacity to trust another is wholeheartedly dependent on your capacity to trust yourself. If you can’t trust yourself, you will never be able to fully trust another. No matter how much you want to.
So, when it comes to trust issues in relationships, it’s self-trust issues that really cause relationships to fail. Self-doubt, coupled with insecurity (in love), tends to leave an empty hole in your heart. Feeling that emptiness typically leads to grasping behaviors where you constantly look for reassurances that your partner truly loves you. As a result, your partner will feel like no matter what they say or do, it’s never enough. No matter how much they do love you (and they do love you), it’s exhausting and eventually dampens that soul love.
Trust of self patterns also show up as worthiness issues, not deserving, not feeling good enough. If you, or your partner are judging yourself, that’s another sign of a lack of self trust. If you really trust you, you won’t ask, “Am I desirable, attractive?” You won’t ask, “Am I too big, too small, too much,” or anything of the sort.
Another way self-trust issues challenge romantic relationships is when you’ve come out of a particularly challenging relationship where you felt like you made a “bad” choice in selecting your last partner. In that case, it’s common to doubt your ability to pick your next partner well, or when and if you do pick, you’ll likely be on hyper alert for any sign that you can’t trust. And, your new partner has to compensate again and again for the fear of hurt you’re carrying from your last relationship.
Finally, when it comes to trust and the question of “Why do relationships fail,” then we have to consider if there has been an actual breach of trust in your present or past relationship. You cannot sweep that under the rug and hope to find deeply connected love again without addressing what happened. Addressing the issue might be uncomfortable for both people, and you might want to get it over with and behind you, but not addressing it consciously and directly will almost surely lead to a failed relationship. But, when you consciously and fully address the feelings you each have, healing is inevitable.
Relationship Failure Pattern #2 – A Lack of Sexual Polarity
Romantic and sexual attraction are driven primarly by the dynamics of sexual polarity. The polarity is most powerfully ignited and sustained by the attractive forces of masculine and feminine energies. These equal and opposite forces, energies, create a magnetic pull when brought together. This happens because most bodies express one of these two energies more predominantly than the other. This is true whether the bodies express as male or female, or any where on the gender spectrum, no matter the sexual orientation, no matter the form of relationship. Simply put masculine energy is attracted to feminine energy and feminine energy is attracted to masculine energy.
Unfortunately, our society and our businesses have conditioned us to neutralize these essential attractive energies. Yet, in romantic relationships, when we neutralize the masculine and feminine energy within us and between us, attraction and chemistry fade. They have to. When the source of the attraction goes out, so does the desire and desirability. And, along with it, the sex.
Relationship Failure Pattern #3 – Unavailability
This failure pattern is one of the most illusive. Men and women alike, can consistently think they are open, ready and available for relationship. Yet, unconsciously, nothing could be further from the truth. When we have hidden hurts and fears about love and intimacy, our subconscious will put up barrier after hidden barrier to ensure we never have to experience the pain of those hurts and fears. Yet, simultaneously, those walls of protection, while protecting us from the hurt, also protect us from the love. The love can’t get in and the love can’t get out, which means we are truly unavailable for real love.
Diving deeper, unavailability in love and relationship shows up in a variety of subtle ways.
Most commonly, if we still carry any pain, heartache, resentment, anger, guilt, or anything of the like from a past relationship, we cannot open our hurt fully to be truly available for intimate – emotionally and physically intimate – connection with a new partner.
As you’re doing your self-inquiry here, look for inner thoughts and feelings like, “I don’t want to get hurt again,” or “I’ll never let that happen again.” If you catch yourself trying to make sure you find someone who isn’t like your ex, there’s still a conscious completion that needs to happen around your past relationship, so you can be available to a new one.
Emotional availability means you have the willingness and capacity to identify your own emotions and share them with a partner. Emotions are the language of intimacy. And, although sharing true feelings bonds conscious couples deeply, many men and women aren’t yet available for this deep connecting. To be fair, it is really no fault of their own. Society rewards us and inspires us to avoid, numb, bury, deny our emotions. It tells men and women alike to hide what they feel. And, this hiding of emotions will devastate even the truest love over time. On the contrary, intimate, vulnerable sharing in conscious relationships leads to the deepest heart-stopping intimacy you’ll ever know as a human being.
Relationship Failure Pattern #4 – Limiting beliefs about Love
When contemplating the question, “Why do relationships fail,” the answer in this relationship failure pattern is actually quite simple. Here’s the simple truth: what you believe is what you experience. Dr. Wayne Dyer wrote a book in the 70’s called I’ll See it When I Believe It, but what we walk around and tell ourselves is “I’ll believe it when I see it.” It doesn’t work that way and it’s why so many couples find themselves struggling unnecessarily in love.
The fact that our unconscious love mindset has a direct and immediate impact on our romantic relationships is simple. Finding and identifying that limited consciousness is a little more challenging.
As you look into you and your patterns, look for things that sound like…
All the good ones are taken.
Women my age have lost interest in sex.
Men my age aren’t active anymore.
Men are insensitive. Men can’t be trusted.
Women are too emotional.
Relationships are difficult.
If your thoughts and feelings are continually focused on the difficulty or impossibility of love, so be it. If you tell yourself stories about all the reasons it won’t work, so be it.
To attract and sustain a deeply loving, soulmate partnership, you’ll need to clean out that old consciousness. That will open the door to an entirely new experience of joy and connection in your loving.
Relationship Failure Pattern #5 – Fear of rejection, abandonment, loss; Fear of losing freedom
This failure pattern is a close cousin to the previous one in that it’s about our relationship mindset and love consciousness. The consciousness connection between what we think and what we feel is quite profound and deeply relevant to the success or failure of a relationship.
We imagine that our fears protect us from the thing we fear. The reality is that our fears have us behave in ways that actually attract and create the experiences we fear. It’s the law of attraction in action, even though it’s attracting what we don’t want.
On a practical level, let’s say you have a fear of rejection. That fear of rejection will have you want to protect yourself from feeling rejection. So, to protect yourself, you might limit how much you let another see and know about you. There might be a part of you that imagines that if they knew the full truth, there is no way they could ever love you. Yet, by holding back, by controlling what they see and don’t see, the one you’re relating with always feels like something is missing. It will be harder for them to trust. That “missing” feeling, combined with the challenge to trust, just may lead them to end the relationship, ensuring that you feel the very rejection you were trying to avoid.
Relationship Failure Pattern #6: Conflict Avoidance
If you get going, when the going gets tough, you’ll never have a quality relationship that lasts. The truth is that every quality relationship experiences conflict. No two people, no matter how well aligned, can see eye to eye on everything all the time. Every couple will experience needs that conflict, desires that don’t always match. No matter how good you are for each other, you can’t see every aspect of life the same way.
On top of that, no matter how much of a conscious partner you are committed to being, we are all human. We all have moments that we react, go unconscious, even react with our partners because we’re really upset about something.
Yet, consciously knowing that upsets and conflicts are truly inevitable even in soul partnerships, doesn’t stop many people from doing anything they can to avoid the experience of conflict in a relationship. And, that habit actually breeds more conflict. And, over the long run it absolutely destroys loving connection.
This relationship failure pattern, next to self-abandonment (that we’ll talk about next) does the most damage in intimate relationships. Men and women alike imagine that if they can just keep the peace, if they just can just get over the little hurts, if they can keep the tears and anger hidden then everything will be ok. Nothing could be further from the truth.
Tying it back into our last relationship failure pattern, fear of loss, breakup, abandonment actually creates more conflict. If you hold back your hurt or anger because you don’t want to upset your partner for fear of what might happen, you’ll tend to say, “It’s ok,” when it’s not. You’ll tend to stuff your feelings, keeping them at bay. Yet, when you stuff those little upsets over and over and over again, eventually you explode. Those infrequent, but often intense, emotional outbursts damage trust and connection over time.
Those in conscious relationships know that when you know how to resolve your conflicts with connection and compassion, conflict turns into communion. Your relationship will be stronger and deeper because you walked the path of conscious conflict.
Oh, by the way, just in case you think you might not be a conflict avoider. Consider these questions…
Do you over apologize, taking responsibility for every upset?
Do you under apologize, rarely taking responsibility for anything that happens?
Do you say you’re fine when you’re not?
Do you say we’ll talk about it later but you never do?
Are you sometimes resentful?
Do you simply hate upsets?
If you said yes to any of those, at least some part of you avoids conflict.
Relationship Failure Pattern #7: Intimacy Issues
This pattern is one of the easier to recognize. Simply again, ask yourself these questions and if you answer no to any of them, you have, or have had, sexual challenges sabotaging love and relationship.
Are you / were you having sex? Or are you (were you) more friends or roommates?
If you are having sex, is it consistently good, satisfying, fulfilling?
Do you have the capacity to truly enjoy the pleasures of sex?
Do you talk about sex? What’s good? What could be better?
Do you share your true turn-ons? Your turn offs?
Have you or your partner faked an orgasm?
Are your yeses and nos always authentic?
Do you practice sacred sexuality where you truly align heart and sex in your love making?
Do you know that your partner has different needs than you?
Couples fight about sex regularly. So if you happen to avoid conflict and you don’t talk about sex, your only exacerbating the divide in your relationship.
Relationship Failure Pattern #8: Self-Abandonment
Of all of the relationship failure patterns we’ve explored, self-abandonment ranks as the biggest, most common and most destructive. Yet, you might ask, if this is one of the biggest reasons relationships fail, why haven’t I heard more about it? What does self-abandonment mean?
To define self-abandonment let’s look at its root, abandonment. When we abandon something, we leave it behind, we forget about it. We ignore it, we disregard it. Self-abandonment is the same thing done to ourselves. When you self-abandon, you ignore your own needs, wants, and desires. Master self-abandoner’s make everyone and everything else more important than themselves. To help you recognize it, self-abandonment most commonly shows up as people pleasing, always putting others first, settling and selling yourself out.
Another common sign of self-abandonment shows up when you’ve lost sight of what you want. If you don’t know what actually makes you happy, it’s likely because you’ve gotten so out of touch with yourself (by focusing on everyone and everything else), that you may not longer be able to easily access or articulate your own needs, wants, desires, boundaries, turn-ons, turn-offs and the like.
Yet, you still might wonder why self-abandonment is the #1 answer to the question, “Why do relationships fail?” It’s the biggest cause of relationship failure because if you’re not being you, you are not in the relationship. When you self-abandon you put up a facade, you pretend to be what you are not, you act in strategic ways. But you are not you. A high quality relationship depends on you being you.
Let’s take self-abandonment one step further. People self-abandon because they believe that by making sure the other person has their needs met, is happy, then the other person won’t leave (or abandon them). Unfortunately, every time you put the other person ahead of yourself it breeds a seed of resentment. Over time those seeds grow into a deep experience of true resentment and resentment is the biggest killer of love. With self-abandonment, while trying to keep the relationship together, you instead slowly destroy it. (But, you can recover from self-abandonment. Your relationship can heal.)
While it would be rare to have not identified with some, if not, many of the patterns that cause relationships to fail, your imperative is to remember these critical things…
Relationships are our greatest learning ground. They teach us the most profound truths of life. They lead us to happiness or misery, depending on how we hold them (not how our partners hold them.) The relationship with you matters. Matters. Matters. Matters. And, you have – truly have – all the power you need to create a life of extraordinary connection.
And, we never truly get it done. In true love we are in an ever growing, ever expanding, beautiful becoming of all that we are and all that we are meant to be.
*At Ecstatic Intimacy, an all-inclusive website for singles and couples, we welcome all sexual orientation(s), gender(s) and relationship expressions. In this article we utilize the pronouns he/she/him/her.