Failed relationships are nothing short of a major learning curve. When heartbreak happens, it can truly feel like the end of the world. But when we finally move on after that and get some more clarity, we realize that there were so many lessons we learned from our failed relationships.
The meaning of a failed relationship can be rather complicated. This actually depends on how you look at failure. When people start becoming controlling, abusive, manipulative and the idea of being with them instills a sense of fear and sadness — consider these some of the major signs of a failing relationship. When a person moves on from such a relationship, it can seem like there is no positive takeaway from it. In that case, we can call it a failed relationship.
All relationships do start on a positive note as people want to enjoy their time together and if they decide to tie the knot they look forward to a happily ever after. Sadly, that does not always happen. Priorities change, people change and when two people do not find happiness with each other anymore, then they choose to move on in search of something else. That is mainly why relationships fail in this generation.
But these failed relationships bring their own set of lessons and learnings that one should incorporate into life and be grateful for. There are many lessons to learn from failed relationships and today we will cover a few of them. But before that, what actually are the stages of a declining relationship?
Stages Of A Failing Relationship
You don’t wake up one morning and decide that your relationship has failed and you need to move on. It is something that has been eating away at you gradually for a while now. The major signs of a failing relationship manifest in stages. If you think you have been in an unhealthy relationship for a while now, you are going to relate to what we have listed below. Let’s begin.
1. Why do relationships fail nowadays? A loss of communication
You will notice this as a common factor in failed relationships as this is how it all always starts. You talk but you do not communicate your feelings. Things like how you spent your day, who is your new friend at work and all those dinnertime conversations just don’t happen anymore. You don’t even have arguments. This is because there is a breakdown of communication and you do not put any effort to keep it going. This is the first of the many stages of a declining relationship.
Related Reading: Communication Problems In Relationships – 11 Ways To Overcome
2. Disregard for each other – Major signs of a failing relationship
You have a “couldn’t care less” attitude when it comes to each other. When you act upon a decision, you don’t even consult your partner or take their opinions into account as it just does not matter to you anymore. Even if your partner offers advice, you don’t pay any heed to it and go ahead with your own plans.
In happy relationships, you find ways to show someone you care about them in the form of sweet gestures, kisses, hugs and other ways of expressing endearment. But in a relationship that is on the verge of a breakdown, all that becomes a distant dream.
3. Emotional and physical distancing
You are not emotionally or physically close anymore. In fact, it is almost like you have emotionally checked out from the relationship a long time ago. The sex has stopped or even it is still there, the cute pillow talk happens no more. This is the third stage of a failing relationship when you do not have those moments of bonding anymore.
4. Finding your own rhythm – Reasons why relationships fail in this generation
This is a common one these days. Why do relationships fail nowadays? Because people spend more time in their individual lives rather than the romantic life they had built together.
It’s as if you and your partner lead separate lives and you are perfectly happy with that. While he hangs out with the guys, you are happy with your solo trips. You have two sets of keys to your house and you get in and get out without meeting each other for days.
5. Having nothing to look forward to
This is the last stage when you finally realize that you should probably call it quits. You see no future together anymore and there is nothing to look forward to. You have become like two separate entities living under one roof, this is one of the biggest indicators that your marriage is on the rocks.
Many relationships fail after having a baby because the whole excitement around having a child is the only thing that kept the couple together in the first place. Once that is achieved, there is nothing else to focus on.
Some people go through a string of failed relationships and come to these stages again and again in life. If we look at the psychology of repeated failed relationships, we will see that many people only want perfection and become inflexible and uncompromising in their nature when seeking love.
Some have had toxic parents, the effect of which they carry into their relationships as well. Some people have anxiety, attachment issues, could be controlling and abusive, and in that case, their relationships are most likely bound to fail.
Related Reading: How To Survive Betrayal In A Relationship? 8 Ways To Figure It Out!
11 Lessons People Learnt From Failed Relationships
Once you part ways due to the reasons mentioned above, you say that your relationship failed because you just did not know how to make it work forever. But every relationship teaches you a lesson and helps you to move on as a wiser person. That’s why second marriages are often very successful. Because you don’t make the mistakes you made in your first. We spoke to 11 people and they told us some of the important lessons to learn from failed relationships:
1. “I believed we had to be a couple constantly”
Aria married Ronaldo after dating for two years. After marriage, she thought that since they were a couple now, they always had to do cute couple-y things. There was no breathing space left in the relationship for Ronaldo and he started feeling claustrophobic. This is why space in a relationship is of great importance.
“I made the biggest mistake of my life by constantly imposing couple activities on him. I felt that since we were married, I should be his priority so he should want to do all his hanging out, bar trips, holidaying, shopping, movies, dining – every single thing with me. If he went out for dinner with his colleagues, I would get upset. I would have ugly fights with him and that is where I went wrong.”
When people refuse to give space to each other, they end up in failed relationships. Most couples don’t realize the importance of space and suffer from the “couple syndrome” and end up throttling each other.
2. “The need for control kills a relationship”
You will find that some people have repeated failed relationships. If you get into the history of their failed relationships, it would inevitably show a pattern. In the case of Jake, it was always his need for control.
Jake dated a number of beautiful, accomplished and sensitive women but once he got close to them he felt that if they cared for him, they would also listen to him. “So I decided what they would wear to work, who they should hang out with and what they should do on weekends. Initially, they would accept my interference with grace, then they started resenting it and the relationship broke off. My last relationship taught me to never be that kind of a man again.”
Jake was engaged twice and both times, his fiancées called off the engagement at the last moment citing this controlling relationship as the reason for her stepping back from the wedding.
All of us enjoy some sense of control in life. For example, some of us want to stick to a daily routine, some hate dirty kitchen sinks and many of us want complete control of our own money. It can be natural to feel this way but when this need for control spills over to our partner’s life and messes with it, it could make a mess of the relationship too.
3. “One should not expect a partner to always sacrifice”
This is one mistake that most of us end up making. Too much expectation can lead to failing relationships. Thanks to our social and mental conditioning, we expect our partners to sacrifice and compromise in the relationship sometimes without even appreciating that. But when the expectation becomes too much for a partner to handle we end up in failed relationships.
Why do relationships fail nowadays? Research conducted on sacrifice, expectation and partner appreciation in romantic relationships found: People encounter conflicts of interest in their romantic relationships. From disagreeing on where to go to dinner to whose family to visit for the holidays, these conflicts can increase stress and reduce relationship satisfaction.
While sacrificing can help solve these daily dilemmas, do people always appreciate their partner for their sacrifice? Given the central role of partner appreciation in cultivating high relationship quality and longevity, it is important to unravel under which conditions partners’ sacrifices elicit appreciation — or fail to do so — and ultimately impact romantic relationships. When one partner expects the other to sacrifice all the time, then the relationship is headed for doom.
Related Reading: How To Avoid Self-sabotaging Relationships?
4. “Emotional and physical compatibility both are needed in a relationship”
There are stages of a declining relationship just like there are stages of developing emotional and physical intimacy. Couples start experiencing a lack of physical intimacy in a long-term relationship. Instead of trying to bring back the spark, many fail to communicate their needs to each other and carry on in the relationship.
That’s when one partner starts looking for the fulfillment of their needs elsewhere and cheats. The same goes for emotional intimacy. If it is missing, a partner can get into an emotional affair very quickly with somebody else.
Kia, who is in her successful second marriage said, “After my failed first marriage where we started dealing with a flatlining sexual intimacy within a year of marriage, I realized that emotional and physical compatibility are both very important in a relationship. I remained good friends with my ex-husband but couldn’t continue in the marriage because there was no physical gratification anymore.
“My last relationship taught me the importance of closeness and how if that is gone, there may not be much more to look forward to. Instead of feeling like a failure in failed relationships, we should carry the lessons learned in that relationship and make sure we don’t make the same mistakes again,” Kia emphasizes.
5. “You should accept yourself first”
“Is it my fault my relationship failed?” This is something we keep asking ourselves when we are trying to get over a relationship. But this is the time we should prioritize ourselves and indulge in self-love. To handle failures in relationships, you should understand what you want first and that is one of the most important lessons to learn from relationships. Self-love is the only way to not feel lonely when you are single and that way you won’t rush into relationships when you are not ready.
Accepting yourself for who you are and putting yourself first is a valuable lesson you learn from failed relationships. Relationship guru and author, Jim Rogers, writes in Petrie magazine: “I was once this person. After two marriages that began at age 25, and stretched on until age 44, both ending in divorce, I entered the realm of single life rather unwillingly. For a time I felt that I’d only be single for a short while, but as the years kept on, I began to wonder if I would ever again be a husband or long-term coupled partner?
Your most important first step in this journey to end your singleness is to learn to accept yourself, fully, just as you are now with all of your faults. The challenge for most is that they find some aspects of themselves to be unacceptable and want to make improvements before they’re ready. The point of accepting yourself, warts and all, is that you’re not approving of these aspects of yourself that you don’t like, you’re just accepting them for now.”
6. “Don’t carry your emotional baggage into a relationship”
If we look into the history of our failed relationships, then we will see that we carry a lot of emotional baggage be it from our childhood or our earlier relationships. And that’s how we end up self-sabotaging our relationships.
Psychologist Annie Tanasugarn in an article in Medium writes, “Rebound relationships have been known to increase negative emotional dependency, are used as unhealthy coping strategies to mask deeper pain, and seen as toxic to personal awareness and growth. For healthy growth post-breakup, it’s necessary for people to give themselves enough time to examine their behavior, what the relationship brought them and taught them, and how to improve upon themselves for their next relationship.”
7. “Our sense of entitlement ruins a relationship”
Millennials are an entitled lot, there’s no denying the fact and that’s mainly why relationships fail in this generation a lot. They rarely see their parents’ struggles since they are being cocooned from them and they grow up with the idea that there is a shortcut to success be it in achieving career or relationship goals.
That’s why the relationship problems faced by millennials mostly stem from their sense of entitlement and that is why they often plunge into a quarter-life crisis. Millennials also end up being in a string of failed relationships because they feel that they are entitled to get love, concern and care from their partner and are not willing to put in as much effort to give it back.
8. “Failed relationships are the result of too much insecurity”
Insecurity can be a silent killer of a relationship. A reader wrote to our counselor: “I am in a long-distance relationship, I feel very anxious about his life. A part of me tells me I am simply overthinking and another part of me forces me to keep a tab on him and leads me to a vulnerable state of mind.
“I don’t know how to express insecurity in a relationship and I am sure I am doing it wrong. It’s a terrible situation and I am afraid I am unable to handle my own feelings.” Many people let their insecurity get the better of them and do not understand how to overcome this feeling. Serious trust issues and insecurity about their loved ones lead to a breakdown of a relationship.
9. “Be careful who you share your issues with”
This is something many people in failed relationships learned the hard way. Everyone has some kind of issue in the relationship that they often talk about to close friends or even seek professional counseling for. But more often than not, seeking help from the wrong people leads to the demise of a relationship.
Tiara tells us that her husband had issues with erection and she shared her concerns with her brother-in-law, whom she was very close with. “He went ahead and told my mother-in-law, who, in turn, asked my husband all about it. He felt very embarrassed and betrayed by me and he felt that I was going around telling everyone about his issues. He misbehaved terribly with me and on that night I left home, never to go back. My last relationship taught me that I made a huge mistake by talking about my married life with my brother-in-law.”
Tiara still feels that if she had not told her brother-in-law anything and had approached a counselor instead, her marriage would have probably survived.
10. “Money is not everything”
Many of us look for a settled life and believe that can only be achieved if our partner has plenty of money. In the pursuit of a plush life, we ignore the red flags in the relationship. But people who married for money often ended up getting divorced faster and that’s one of the major lessons to learn from relationships that have failed.
They could have got hefty alimony but getting over a failed marriage is still hard because it meant not only giving up a lifestyle they had become used to but also grappling with the humiliation and heartbreak that comes with it. Serena’s husband was a company VP and had a plush apartment in New York. She wore branded clothes and went on cruising holidays but her husband brought along other women on the holidays with him.
“I found that unacceptable. But he said that he was giving me a great life so I had to accept his quirks,” she said. At first, it was all bling but eventually, she realized that she couldn’t accept that kind of life. Money is not everything in a relationship and she learned that the hard way.
Related Reading: Everything You Wanted To Know About A Sugar Baby
11. “You can be lonely in a marriage”
Many relationships fail after having a baby and here’s what happens. In her failed relationship quote, author Rachel Wolchin says, “Time heals nothing unless you move along with it.” While it is a reality that time is a great healer, it is also a reality that you can be lonely in a marriage.
When people are single and lonely, they feel that marriage would allow them to have the companionship and love they crave for. But people in failed relationships will tell you that a lack of communication, physical and emotional intimacy can also lead to loneliness. “You could be sleeping on the same bed every night but you could be like two people in two worlds living in your separate spaces having your separate thoughts,” said Serena.
Life is about learning lessons from failed relationships and using those in the future. Some people emerge from repeated failed relationships to build a strong one in the end. What have you learned from past relationships? I’m sure you have a few lessons up your sleeve too. Think about it long and hard and don’t make those mistakes again in the future.
*Names changed to protect identities*
Your relationships could be failing because you are selfish, controlling, uncompromising and inflexible. You could have had toxic parents and carried it into your relationships or you are emotionally abusive and do not even realize that.
If we look at the psychology of failed relationships we will see that many people only want perfection and become inflexible and uncompromising in their relationships. Millennial relationship problems are also leading to failed relationships.
Improve communication, have a talk with your partner and see where you are going wrong. Opt for counseling if need be and try to bring back the relationship on track. If that does not happen, move on and find other ways to make yourself happy again.
If there is no way you can see yourself working on the relationship and feeling happy about it, then you are flogging a dead horse. In that case, you are wasting your time in a failed relationship.