Why Do People Who Love Each Other Split Up?

12 September, 2020
You need more than love to make a relationship work. Loving someone else doesn't necessarily mean you'll be happier and better at solving day-to-day problems. So much so, that many people break up in spite the fact that they love each other.

Why do people who love each other break up? This happens all the time. Maybe you’ve experienced this yourself and had to leave the person you love. There’s more going on in these breakups than just incompatibility, communication problems, or a lack of excitement.

People who love each other tend to break up and get back together again several times before finally ending their relationship. They separate, get back together, and try again. There’s a lot of, “This isn’t working, let’s give each other some space” and “Let’s try again. We’ll do it right this time.” Unfortunately, nothing seems to work. In the death throes of a relationship, love becomes painful. The measures you take to keep it alive just make the wound bigger.

Françoise Sagan said that loving someone isn’t just wanting them, it’s understanding them and being able to connect with their reality. Maybe that’s the main reason people let someone they love go. Letting go is the only way for them to be themselves and avoid perpetual suffering.

A couple fighting on the beach.

Reasons why people who love each other break up

For a good portion of your life (especially during your youth), you probably believed that love is the glue that holds everything together. Nevertheless, as you get older and experience more of the world, you realize that love doesn’t actually conquer all. Disappointingly, it isn’t the magic ingredient for a happy relationship.

To understand why people stay together or break up, it’s good to revisit some of John Gottman’s classic studies. In the last 40 years, both Gottman and Robert Levenson have studied relationship dynamics through therapy, interviews, surveys, and follow-ups with couples.

Thus, in spite of the fact that a long and happy relationship seems as complex as a Rubik’s Cube, it’s much simpler than you’d think. Understanding the basic factors that would make two people who love each other break up can help you understand relationships. Let’s take a look at some of these reasons.

Different life plans

You choose to be in a relationship with someone for many reasons, such as passion, attraction, friendship, complicity, and chemistry. However, you feel like there’s a wide gap that won’t close, a source of suffering that won’t go away.

Your life plans might be getting in the way of your perfect relationship. For you, your work is everything. All of your future plans revolve around your career. Your partner, on the other hand, is more focused on having children. They aren’t so thrilled with your professional ambition.

I love you but I don’t understand you

Understanding someone means putting yourself in their shoes and connecting with external reality. This probably seems basic and essential, but it can be extremely difficult to do with a romantic partner. Sometimes, love doesn’t know how to or doesn’t want to understand.

You don’t value me

Another common reason why couples break up is that one of the partners feels underappreciated. This is a situation where time takes its toll on the relationship in a very concrete way. After you’re with someone for a while, you start to take things for granted. Their actions, their effort, their small gestures, their virtues, etc.

While your partner shouldn’t feel obligated to praise you, validation and recognition are important for a healthy relationship.

Communication problems

Communication is extremely important in relationships. Knowing how to listen, speaking in an assertive way, knowing how to disagree without getting overly emotional, and making compromises are the cornerstones of any relationship. Thus, another reason why people who love each other split up is poor communication.

A sad guy by a window.

Giving up

Your relationship doesn’t exist in a bubble. Thus, it isn’t protected from the events and circumstances in your life. In fact, you have to deal with family, especially parents. That parent-child connection can sometimes be so strong that it stymies your relationship.

In addition, there are plenty of barriers in your professional and social life that can get in the way of your romantic relationship. Infidelity, temptation, or jealousy can plant seeds of doubt in one or both partners.

Sometimes, you find yourself in circumstances that reveal your partner’s true self. An illness, a legal issue… Seeing how your significant other reacts to these challenges might change the way you perceive them.

In conclusion, sometimes it’s hard to understand why two people who love each other break up. However, as you can see from this article, love isn’t enough to sustain a relationship.

Relationships are built. You have to craft them with great care and use the best materials you can find. That way, you’ll have a stable, beautiful, and long-lasting relationship.

  • Gottman, J. M., & Gottman, J. S. (2015). Gottman couple therapy. Clinical Handbook of Couple Therapy, 5th Ed. The Guilford Press.