There seems to be a growing number of people who are leaving their relationships. Initially I figured people were talking to me about their pending break-ups because they heard that I was single, but that turns out to be incorrect. They are talking to be because they are in unsatisfying relationships and they look at what Rachel and I did as the next appropriate step in their relationship.
With most of these situations there are some common trends. Below is a list of some of the things I’ve been hearing about why people are thinking of leaving their long term relationships:
You are not very satisfied with your life and when you speak to your partner they are more concerned with keeping things the way they are than your lack of satisfaction. This has more to do with the economics of time and effort than a genuine lack of caring about what you going through. Their actions are selfish because they don’t want the cognitive overhead associated with having to change their relationship with the world. Leaving this person is often enough to cause the changes you are looking for because adjusting to a relationship ending is a lot tougher than changing things enough to allow you to find more satisfaction in life. But keep in mind that the changes MUST be lasting or else you’re back to this game in a few months or years.
You are not connecting with your partner on an emotional level. This is either due to withdrawal by your partner, an improvement in your emotional intelligence or an inability to foster the emotional awareness needed for a reciprocal relationship. Withdrawal is selfish and is under the control of your partner; this is really bad because they are choosing to withdraw. An improvement in your emotional understanding shows that you are evolving as a person which frees your partner of responsibility from this issue; but it’s still not very good because unless they evolve in the same way, the relationship is going to suffer. Having a partner who is incapable of expressing the emotions needed to allow for the connection to exist just shows you how powerful attraction can be because it allows us to overlook huge shortcomings in favor of falling in love.
You are in a relationship with a horrible person and as you mature, you begin to see their behavior for what it is. This is a big one because what attracts us to people serves a reproductive function and oftentimes these things are not what make for a positive relationship. His arrogance was sexy confidence before the kids came along, now it’s just a pain in the ass because he doesn’t believe cooking dinners to be the role of the primary bread earner. She used to be strong willed because she wouldn’t back down during an argument, now she is just stubborn or delusional because she won’t accept the truth. Good luck here. Change is possible, but they’re going to need to see the need for change and until they do, you’re going to suffer.
Your partner is a border-line or complete sociopath who cares more about controlling behavior and perceptions than addressing the wrongs. I’ve yet to see how this one works out well. Staying in a relationship with a sociopath is only an option if there are no children, you won’t be having children and you are not getting abused. If children are involved, consider the impact that modeling your relationship will have on them. They’ll learn that mommy or daddy has one function and that is to service the needs to their partner. Not a healthy legacy to leave for anyone. And children see and normalize this very quickly.
You are with someone who can’t meet your needs. This is sad because it is so emotionless and flat that it’s almost boring to talk about and admit. For example, you have a very broad emotional spectrum and your partner doesn’t. There’s nothing wrong with this, it’s just unsatisfying for you because so much of your identity doesn’t get expressed. You’re lucky if your partner is mature enough to accept this and allows you to get your needs met elsewhere but lets get real here, who is that mature? Personally I crumble when a girl friend goes else where to get her needs met regardless of what those needs may be – be it coaching for swimming, someone to hear her problems, laundry advice, etc… even the stuff that I know nothing about.
Your relationship has actually ended but you are with someone who can’t end it. This is so common it’s an embarrassment for our species. One partner has checked-out while the other is still working hard to try and make things work. The checked-out partner won’t end it for some reason – mainly because they can’t have the tough conversation – and the still-trying partner believes the relationship is worth saving. The end result is one person spending all of their remaining relationship building energy while the others sits and wonders how much better life would be if they weren’t in the relationship. I have difficultly with this one personally because I have a tough time accepting that I was wrong about falling in love and seeing my world without my present partner. But the sooner it ends, the sooner the two of you will find happiness again
If you see yourself in one of the above situations, consider taking some time to evaluate your relationship. It may not be over, but you may need to take some steps to get a handle on what is going on.