Why Do Relationships End?

Not all relationships are life-long. Some simply complete a cycle in our lives and then end. When this happens, they only leave a good lesson and the fact that we have to keep moving forward. Keep reading to find out why some relationships end.
Why Do Relationships End?
Isbelia Esther Farías López

Reviewed and approved by the philosopher Isbelia Esther Farías López.

Last update: 15 December, 2022

There are many reasons why relationships end. Generally, we think more about the negatives like infidelity, a lack of respect, a physical fight, psychological manipulation… However, these aren’t the only reasons. Often, people decide to cut their bond because they appreciate and respect the other person, but simply no longer have much in common. For this reason, they prefer to leave, ending it healthily, to give themselves the opportunity to create other more significant bonds.

Below, we reflect a little more on this; we consider the main reasons a partnered relationship is an important part of life for everyone, and how today we place a lot of importance on distinguishing between the positive or beneficial relationships, and the negative or harmful ones.

We all change, as do our relationships

If at 30 years old you look back to when you were about 15-18 years old, it’s likely that you’ll notice several differences about who you were, what you thought, what you needed, what drove you, how your relationships were, what you chose to maintain and what you didn’t, who you liked and who you didn’t, etc. This is normal. In each stage of life, we have the opportunity to grow and develop new ways to interact with others.

It’s likely that you’ll also notice that a lot of the relationships that you felt gave you a lot at the time are no longer relevant in your life. This may not necessarily be because of something unpleasant, but rather simply because your life has followed a different path and it no longer fits with the people that you once loved.

Psychologist Raquel Aldana states that relationships can end “in any way; relationships are stages, and as stages, they can change. If you accept the rules of the game, you can move forward, but if you don’t, you’ll become stuck”.

woman thinking, reflection

Not just one reason

Just as relationships can start, they can also end – for many reasons. There are numerous factors that can cause something you once thought of as “unbreakable” or “life-long” to end. Although, these factors aren’t always negative.

There are many relationships that end because something that joined the people together at the start, stops existing. For example, students in a language class may become really good friends, but once that course has finished, they’re no longer in contact. Each person has their own life and continues forward, leaving behind only the memory of a good friendship.

It’s also important to bear in mind that many people understand something to be an “ending” of a relationship when it’s actually just a change. For example, college friends that spent a lot of time together, after graduation may fall into new rhythms of life. As a result, they can no longer spend as much time together. However, when they have the opportunity to do so, they jump at the chance. And they find that “nothing has changed” although everything is different.

Don’t miss: 8 Tips From Neurobiology to Help You Be Happier

Not every relationship that starts well ends well

Unlike the title of that famous fairy tale, not all that starts well ends well. Often, questions pop up over the course of the relationship (be it platonic, romantic, occupational, etc), that cause us to end it; infidelity, lack of respect, abuse (physical or psychological), lies, etc.

When relationships end for any of the above, it’s for the best, even though it may hurt at first. Staying in a relationship that only generates unease and opens wounds over and over again isn’t worth it.

heterosexual couple arguing sat on a sofa

As it’s not possible to always have complete certainty about every way a relationship will go, it’s important to keep an open attitude. Some relationships may start, work, and stay in our lives (for a long time). Others may start and end more quickly simply because they’re not meant for us. Through all of these, we can learn, grow, and improve.

After all, learning is a part of relationships and often we have to allow a person to form just a part of our lives.

Overall, beyond the cause and how the general experience of the relationship was, we should remember that every relationship is an opportunity to grow, be a better person, build more profound and positive bonds.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

  • McLemore, C. W., & Parrott, L. (2003). Toxic relationships and how to change them: Health and holiness in everyday life. Jossey-Bass.
  • Karney, B. R., Beckett, M. K., Collins, R. L., & Shaw, R. (2007). Adolescent romantic relationships as precursors of healthy adult marriages: A review of theory, research, and programs (Vol. 488). Rand Corporation.
  • Neff, K. D., & Beretvas, S. N. (2013). The role of self-compassion in romantic relationships. Self and Identity12(1), 78-98.
  • Braithwaite, S. R., Delevi, R., & Fincham, F. D. (2010). Romantic relationships and the physical and mental health of college students. Personal relationships17(1), 1-12.
  • Motz, A. (2014). Toxic couples: The psychology of domestic violence. Routledge.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.