Common Factors in Relationships That Eventually Crash and Burn.

Or, they survive but struggle along miserably.

image by Joshua Newton from

Not showing significant interest in the things they love.

Of course, you do not need to love everything your partner loves. You also don’t need to partake in all the activities and things they enjoy. Far from it. Instead, what I mean here is that when you love someone, the things that thrill them, their primary passions, their main loves in life? For these specific few things, your degree of interest in them should be significant and this will be made obvious via your actions.

Why? It’s a display and active show of your love for that person. To be willing to engage in, listen to them about, and enjoy along with them, the things that truly thrill them.

Focusing on all their annoying traits and weaknesses, rather than what’s awesome about them.

It’s easy, especially in a long-term relationship, to get caught up in all the little annoying things your partner does. How they chew their food. The fact that they often use a silly phrase. Their obsession with all things orange. That they are always five minutes late. Their irrational fear of squirrels. Their challenge with procrastination.

Yet, when you choose to focus on all their weaknesses and bad traits (which every single one of us has), this, over time, can whittle away at your love for them. As a result, eventually, you may come to see them with disdain and annoyance, and it ruins your love and respect for them.

How we choose to look at our partner is a choice. At the beginning of your romance, when things were new and thrilling, you saw only the good. Their best qualities and self.

Guess what? Unless they are a master manipulator and liar who played you real good (in which case, get out of that relationship), all of those great traits you saw in the beginning? Those are still there.

This is not to say you cannot or should never get annoyed with your partner. Of course, you will. Annoyance and even anger are normal emotions to feel in all our close relationships at times. But, do not choose to stay in those emotional rooms. Do not choose to live in those emotional spaces. If you do, it will wreck your love.

Instead, choose to live in the emotional spaces where you look at all the splendor, awesomeness, and way cool stuff about your partner. In what ways do they inspire you? What qualities about them are stellar? How are they special and unlike others? What do you adore about them? What about them moves your emotionally, excites you, or makes you smile?

You get the idea.

Live in these emotional spaces with regards to your partner. People who choose to focus on the great stuff about their love tend to have way happier relationships (not surprising) than those who do not do this as much.

Taking advantage of one’s partner.

We all do this occasionally with other people and to small degrees. It’s, in a minor sense, a human thing to push boundaries and see what one can “get away with”, in a sense. Yet, someone who does this actively, regularly, more than just rarely, and in more than minor ways? This is a problem.

Over time, it is likely to lead to bitterness in the relationship, which can pollute the otherwise good feelings in the relationship. Plus, in general, when you love someone, you don’t typically want to take advantage of them and will strive to treat them fairly and with the utmost respect.


A big one. Eventually, lies always come out. Small fibs here and there, we all do this once in a while. As long as the fibs are not the kind that are hurtful (as in, you are withholding information from your partner that is disrespectful or unkind to do so), this is probably ok. In general, though, lies in a relationship will eventually float to the surface, and it will destroy it.

Many people may lie in order to “avoid fights” with their partner or in order to try and sidestep “hurting” their partner. This is the wrong way of doing it, via lying. Truly healthy, emotionally close relationships dare to have difficult conversations. Ones which sometimes may even cause a degree of pain. Lying is the easy route and one which leads to erosion in the connection. Talk about the tough stuff. You might be surprised. Often, it even brings you closer.

Not prioritizing your relationship highly with your actions.

This happens a lot, though especially with regards to the cliche of men who work too much and do not prioritize their family or romantic partner enough, only to later discover, those relationships have then wilted and died. You must tend to the important relationships in your life, regularly, and with ample focus, effort, and investment. Otherwise, they will slowly wither away.

Significant emotional unhealth on either side.

If one person in the relationship has severe depression and refuses to get help for it, or one partner becomes addicted to alcohol or other drugs, or one person becomes deeply unhappy and won’t do anything to change their current mental state, you get the idea, over time, this will chip away at and possibly even ruin the relationship.

It gets too heavy. It eventually sucks much of the joy out of the relationship. Plus, if one person is quite unhealthy and for a significant period of time, this will affect the mental health of the other person too, and not in a good way.

It is your responsibility (not your partner’s) to care for your own mental and physical health. To take ownership of that. To stay healthy for the health of your relationships and the quality of your life otherwise. Thus, if this becomes a problem in you or your partner’s life, it must be dealt with, or it may eventually ruin the relationship.

Not having your partner’s back.

This can be things like, when they break their leg, not swooping in to help care for them. It might be when they get sick, leaving them to their own devices. It can also be not taking the time and putting in the effort to be mentally present with and listen to them regularly. It could be when a friend or family member of yours treats them badly, sweeping it under the rug and not wanting to challenge it or ruffle any feathers. It might be not standing up for them in an important moment. It can be not attending their poetry readings or musical gigs.

Not having your partners back can look like a lot of things.

Some of them will seem small. Some will be highly emotionally charged, major moments. Either way, if you don’t embrace the courage and effort to have their back? They are likely to notice, and over time, this can cause them to feel as though they are, in a sense, on their own, without a true partner who is ready and willing to step up to bat in even the toughest moments. This willingness to do so is a glue that will keep two people together in an otherwise healthy and happy relationship.

Unwillingness to sacrifice or compromise.

This is a big one. Over the long-term, in a romantic relationship, there will be moments when one person must compromise or even make a major sacrifice for the overall good and longevity of the relationship. If you are unwilling to do this, it may make it more difficult to maintain a happy, enduring relationship over the years. For successful romantic relationships, there needs to be a degree of flexibility and openness in both parties. Things are going to come up in each of your lives, surprises, opportunities, shifts in direction, that without flexibility and openness toward, could cause an ending that otherwise didn’t need to happen.

Lack of openness to your partner’s thoughts and opinions.

There are many people who (and this tends to happen more often with men, though of course, it can be a thing with all sorts of people) are unwilling to be influenced by their partner. These types of people are closed off to the thoughts, suggestions, and insights of their loves. This is a mistake. Studies have shown that men specifically who are open to influence by their partner are usually happier in their relationships than those who are not.

This is not to be confused with being a doormat, with having no boundaries, with “doing what your partner says.” Not at all. That’s unhealthy in the other direction. You absolutely should challenge your partner when they might be wrong. You should say no when it feels right for you. You should have boundaries.

Instead, by suggesting openness to your partner’s thoughts and opinions, I mean finding worth, intelligence, and respect in their opinions and ideas about life and the world.

You two are partners, right? You have each other’s backs? You picked this person because you love and value them? So, this should also mean that their thoughts have equal validity to yours. Be open to them. Your partner will likely offer insights you hadn’t thought of, may teach you things, and aid in your growth with their ideas.

Resentment and criticism.

These feelings are a death keel, if they are enduring and pervasive over time, to a relationship. Ever read John and Julie Gottman’s stuff? They are two of the top relationship psychologists out there currently, able to predict with a 98 percent accuracy rate after watching a couple have a mundane, everyday conversation for just ten minutes, whether or not that couple’s relationship will endure.

They say that resentment and criticism are two of the kisses of death to a relationship.

We all have moments of resentment with our loved ones from time to time. Keyword: moments. Again, do not live in this emotional space. Choose not to hang on to this stuff. Decide to let it go. Talk it out with your partner. Voice your hurt and temporary resentment (this will help it pass, rather than stifling it). Then? Let it go.

And with regards to criticism, don’t do it. There is a difference between, “man, I thought you were going to fold the laundry? You said you would, and you didn’t. I’m pretty annoyed by that.” As opposed to “you’re so lazy and inconsiderate. You said you would fold the laundry and you didn’t, like usual.”

Can you spot which one is the healthy feedback and which one is criticism?

There are, of course, other factors that cause relationships to crash and burn. These are just a few of them. Also, there are many couples who stay together over the long-term, though who are resigned and unhappy, in terrible marriages. So just because a relationship endures, does not mean it is successful, healthy, or good. Thus, crash and burn does not necessarily have to mean the relationship ends. It means the relationship tanks emotionally.

Put in the care and effort to keep your relationship great. This doesn’t just happen. It takes mindful effort, paying attention, thought, and care. Yet, these are some of the most worthwhile efforts that you’ll ever put in. Having an emotionally close, happy, healthy relationship can be one of the most fulfilling and wonderful aspects of being alive.

Fervent writer. Ravenous reader. Impassioned with words. Relationship researcher. Social Scientist. Social Justice Advocate. Author.

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