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Four Reasons Why Relationships Don't Last

Why Relationships Fail: Four Predictors

The power of positive versus negative comments

People in failing relationships look for what is wrong with others (especially their mate) instead of what is right. During a conversation where the two people held opposing views, the ones who had a good relationship said something nice to the other one five times more than they said something critical. In relationships that don't last, the ratio of good comments versus bad ones to each other was one to one.

Accepting responsibility to be in a committed relationship

When one or both people don't take responsibility for their commitment and allow themselves to be attracted to others, they are in trouble. Some people feel there is nothing wrong with a little "harmless" flirtation. On the contrary, research shows that in every close conversation, there is the possibility of secreting oxytocin (a hormonal chemical) that creates a bond. These interactions can make people feel like they are falling in love. But people can consciously choose not to cross a boundary when they feel even slightly attracted to someone else. They can change their focus. They do not have to be a victim of this attraction.


There is no "perfect" relationship and even the best ones will have some ups and downs, but is is how couples ride those rough times that determines if the relationship succeeds. People who are good at relating will try to repair any damage that is done in their partnership. They will offer apologies and make gestures to right what has caused hurt.


Understanding that you need to teach others how to treat you in order to get your needs met will move you from the victim column into the winning column. There are, however, some attitudes that indicate a relationship will break up. The kinds of behavior that will erode closeness are contempt, criticism, defensiveness, and stonewalling.

Why relationships don't last is profound but simple. You need two people who treat each other with love, affection, respect, and support, and have a commitment to each other. You deserve a love that lasts--so think about the above.

Before You Say I Do

Do you have your own life?

To have a strong marriage, it takes two strong people. If you are looking to be taken care of or if you need marriage to give you an identity, resentment is bound to come up on both sides. Do you have friends, work, passions, and purpose that is your very own? If you do, your partner is going to be very lucky to have you in their life.

Do you have good boundaries with your family and friends?

After you say "I do," it is important that your parents, siblings, or friends do not intrude on your new life with your partner. Do they know when it is appropriate to visit, what their new role is in your life, and that you have a new priority? Some people get jealous when they lose your full attention. Be kind but draw the line. Designate times that are sacred with your spouse and do not allow interference.

How will you work out your differences?

Before and after the wedding, it is important to not say angry things about your partner to those who are close to you. You may get over your spat but your family and friends won't. If you and your partner have recurring issues that you cannot work out together, get yourself to a counselor before the damage is done. Don't look to your family to work out your differences.

Are you on the same page when it comes to religion?

Before you say "I do," have you determined where you will worship? Are you both in agreement on your spirituality? And if you have children, do you know what religion you will raise them in? Religion is an important issue that often goes beyond one's ability to communicate verbally what it means to them.

What kind of lifestyle will you have?

Before the wedding, have you decided what kind of lifestyle you can realistically expect to have? This area usually comes down to finances and you both want to be honest about what you can hope to earn in the present and the future. If one of you has been raised in opulence and the other one has been raised to pinch pennies, you may both have a very different perspective about what life holds for you.

Before the wedding, and before you say "I do," you and your partner should ask yourselves the above five questions and see how close you come in your answers. This is not a perfect test but it is a good indicator of how your marriage will endure.

Visit for more tips, skills, and insight on dating, relationships, singles, and love. Subscribe to our dating newsletter from master single's coach, life coach, and syndicated columnist, Alex Wise. Copyright 2009-2020, Alex Wise. (Please note source if reprinting this article.)

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