Ex-lawyer turned relationship coach

How Most Relationships Fall Apart

People get unhappy in relationships in the same way that a boulder rolls down a mountain. It starts slowly, but once it topples over there’s no stopping it. 

So what nudges a relationship toward the precipice?

It’s typically not a big thing, such as health issues or infidelity. Usually, it’s a build-up of small things.

Such as a lack of appreciation, not being listened to, not sharing, reduced intimacy, or a breaking of expectations and promises.

Suppose your partner typically calls you on days that you don’t see each other and then doesn’t ring you the next time you’re apart. You probably reckon it’s a fluke, right? It’s a first. Plus, life gets in the way sometimes. Which is, of course, the excuse your mate gives you for not reaching out. And you accept it.

But then the next time you’re apart, your telephone doesn’t ring again and you hear the same alibi. The trip after that, the same deal and defence.

It’s no longer accidental. It’s a pattern. 

Now you’re thinking you don’t matter as much to them anymore. You can feel it in your gut. After all, they’ve consistently telephoned you hundreds of times before. What’s different now? So even if they apologise for their behaviour, you still feel like something is up.

These moments of disconnection are what send your relationship off a cliff.

Sure, the missed phone calls might seem small and insignificant through a rational lens. But they might not be from an emotional perspective. Why?

Because you no longer feel the same amount of love and support as you did before. You feel a little slighted. You feel as though your special person might not be as committed to you as you thought. Maybe you even think they’re trying to hurt you on purpose.

And that can undermine everything you’ve built together.

Especially because we often see our feelings as a reflection of the truth. “If I feel it, then it must be real.”

So how do you deal with these mini rejections?

You describe how your partner’s actions are making you feel, as quickly as possible, without suggesting they’re doing it on purpose or to hurt you.

You obviously don’t have to share the same feelings. Perhaps your companion doesn’t care about phone calls as much as you. But you should both care about what makes each other happy and upset.

Now you’re not arguing, but showing compassion and seeking to understand. That’s what being in a relationship is all about. You’re a team. It’s the two of you versus the world. 

So if your partner’s behaviour feels like a big deal to you, then it is. Don’t keep it to yourself.

You owe it to your partner to share what’s going on inside of you. Because if you keep your perceived slights a secret, you’re eventually going to retaliate and kick your relationship off the rails yourself. 

Don’t have the courage to be honest and open with the person you hope to spend the rest of your life with? Then you have no business being in a ‘long-term’ relationship. Because your lack of candor will almost certainly be the force that makes everything come tumbling down.

By Jeroen Elsing
Ex-lawyer turned relationship coach