Wednesday, 3 December 2014

Top Five Reasons a Partner Leaves (and How to Cope)

Trying to figure out why your
partner left you will become the
bane of your existence. Even if
there appears on the surface to be
an obvious and uncomfortable reason, your brain
will search for answers that feel satisfying and
The truth is that there probably are a million
reasons for his or her departure, but the one you
choose to believe will set the tone for your
perspective, attitude, and experience going
For example, it’s easier to digest the idea that
you and your partner “grew apart” than it is to
consider the possibility that he or she fell out of
love with you. The first reason is practical and
plausible; the latter is a devastating blow to the
heart and ego.
You may never get the answer you are looking
for from your partner, but there are few reasons
that people commonly leave. Below are the top
five reasons for leaving that I hear about while
working with divorcing couples in my clinical
practice. (Note: I have used he/she alternately to
avoid focusing on one gender.)
1. He wasn’t in love with you anymore. This is
one of the most common reasons people leave a
relationship. You could argue that all long-term
relationships lose their spark, but falling out of
love usually is code for “I’m done here.” While
there are cases in which couples fall back in
love, most often it’s hard to renew this emotional
How to cope: As hard as it is, try not to take this
personally. Remember that people fall in and out
of love all the time, and you probably don’t want
to be with someone who doesn’t love you deeply
anyway. Heal your ego and your heart first, and
then see where you stand with your emotions.
2. She felt like you became more like a sibling
than a partner. Many marriages, particularly
those that start at a young age, turn from
romantic to familial.
These are couples
that “grow up”
together and then
“grow apart.”
Husbands become
brotherly, and
wives become
sisterly, until it just feels too weird to be
romantic. These are hard situations because
there is still a strong emotional connection, but
no physical connection. Many people choose to
stay in these kinds of marriages, but for many,
giving up romance and sex is just not an option.
How to cope: If this is the reason for your
divorce, you probably had a good go of it. The
relationship was most likely very comfortable
and “good” in many ways, but trust that you will
rekindle some of your romantic spark and realize
that your marriage was unfulfilling. Cherish what
you had, and work on closing that chapter as
you prepare for the next.
3. He felt ignored and unappreciated. As with a
garden, when a marriage isn’t tended to, it
withers and dies. If you underappreciated your
partner or neglected to nurture your marriage,
your partner might have broken off like a dead
limb on a tree. Maybe there were reasons you
didn’t want to put energy and time into the
marriage, or perhaps you felt like it was his job
as much as yours. This all may be true, but once
the life goes out of the marriage, it’s a lot of
work to cultivate it back to where it needs to be.
How to cope: Work on taking responsibility for
your part, forgiving yourself for what you could
have done differently, and letting go of how you
think it should have been. Try to relinquish anger
and resentment to create space for
understanding and growth.
4. She met someone else. This is the most
painful reason for a leaving, but it’s also
sometimes the easiest to accept. The message
is so strong and clear when there is infidelity,
unlike opaque reasons such as boredom or lack
of compatibility. Coming back from an affair is
possible, but most often the trust is severed and
cannot be recovered. Cheating partners often
don’t even want to work on saving the marriage,
increasing levels of frustration and hurt.
How to cope: Try not to take too much of a
righteous or moral stance. The reasons for
affairs are very “gray” and multilayered. It’s
easy to get trapped in black-and-white thinking,
but you will need to expand your conception of
things to truly heal.
5. He doesn’t have anything in common with you
anymore. This always seems like something that
can be worked on or fixed, but when two people
live separate lives, they eventually grow too far
apart. This happens slowly and mysteriously
until, one day, there are no common interests
and someone gets bored and wants to move on.
In many cases, there were no common interests
to start with, making coming back together even
How to cope: This is a great opportunity and
time to ask yourself what you want to do with
your time and how you want to live. As hard as it
is to lose your partner, there probably is some
part of you that shut down or got lost in the
relationship. Rediscover that now.


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