Laura Beck, Christy Piña

Even couples who have been together for what seems like ages can — and do — go their separate ways. And that can be one of the most confusing break ups of all, for both parties involved. Why would your decade-long relationship stop working? According to experts, there are many reasons long-term couples break up, spanning from a change in values to a lack of physical touch, and none of them are likely easy to accept or understand when you’re going through it.

You may start to notice your relationship heading south over the course of a few months, or it can hit you suddenly one day that things between you and your partner just don’t work the way they used to, which can be difficult to grasp, and understandably so. In an effort to try to accept what went wrong in your relationship, it might be helpful to take a look at some of these common reasons long-term couples break up.

1. Unresolved Issues

There may be some issues that you and your partner argue about a million times and still can’t seem to agree. Although you’re bound to disagree on things here or there, relationship expert Susan Winter tells Woman’s Day that, “ongoing fights that never reach common ground promote the type of lingering animosity that destroys any love that exists.

Photo credit: Jamie Grill
Photo credit: Jamie Grill

These ongoing disagreements can make couples feel like they can’t work together as a team and foster doubt in the validity of their partner selection process, Winter explains. “Couples need to be able to move through life’s challenges together in order to feel confidence in their relationship,” she adds.

2. Chronic Dismissal

Falling into a routine or allowing a relationship to become habitual are common issues couples may face over the course of their long-term partnerships, which can result in a lack of spontaneity and adventure. When that happens, “it’s easy to stop making an effort and begin to take our partner for granted,” Winter says. “No one likes to feel like a non-priority, [and] the aggravated version of this behavior is chronic dismissal.”

Chronic dismissal can show itself in various ways, she explains. Your partner could consistently interrupt your self-expression, criticize what you say and think, make you feel unimportant and unheard, dismiss your feelings, or refuse to take responsibility for making you feel badly. “Our self-esteem plummets when the one who is supposed to love us makes us feel unseen, undervalued, and discounted on a regular basis,” Winter says.

Photo credit: Mixmike
Photo credit: Mixmike

3. Active Addictions

Although addiction is a disease outside of anyone’s control, it can still hurt a relationship. “Partners who have active addictions create a chaotic and unstable environment,” Winter says. “They’re emotionally unpredictable because their life revolves around the highs and lows of feeding their addiction.”

In a relationship dynamic, the non-addict often becomes the parent, and the other becomes the child, which Winter says can lead to resentment and hostility from both parties. “Unwillingness to get treatment can become the death knell of a marriage or long-term relationship.”


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