It’s also often the case that one partner remains more attached than the other. But no matter the circumstances, the end of a relationship is painful. And sometimes it’s confusing, too—the explanation just doesn’t ring true, for whatever reason. So today I’m laying out 10 of the most common reasons people cite for ending a relationship, gathered over years of having sat with countless clients in my capacity as a matchmaker.

1. Affairs

Infidelity is easily the most common reason for someone ending a relationship, either because they cheated or were cheated on. The partner who’s strayed may deny the accusation, but the truth pretty much always emerges one way or the other. And the longer the infidelity is avoided, the worse the situation becomes. This also affects what happens next. If it was a onetime thing, most couples try to move on and repair the trust—at least initially. But something sacred broken isn’t so easily fixed. And if the affair’s been going on a long time, the outcome is all but guaranteed: These people will soon be walking their own paths once more.

2. Too many crises

Sometimes a healthy relationship is blighted by forces entirely external to it, causing irreparable damage beyond the couple’s control. Whether it’s illness, financial worries, geographical changes, problems with children, or the death of a loved one, crises can fundamentally alter one partner’s character and lend an unforeseen edge to the dynamic of the couple. Then blame creeps in, or resentment, or grief at what’s been lost. Sadly, one partner often feels they then have no option but to end things, either to save themselves or because they feel they’re simply not getting the support they need.

3. Conflict fatigue

The shouting match across the house isn’t the only kind of argument that can have a pernicious effect on a relationship. Seemingly petty disputes can also erode a couple to the point of collapse, if those niggles bubble up often enough. This is then complicated by the fact that seemingly small disagreements (however constant) may affect one partner profoundly, unbeknown to the other. Repeated and unresolved conflict accumulates emotional scarring. Sometimes the only salve is to walk away.

4. Boredom

For some people, comfort and security are sources of apathy as much as contentment. To them, knowing their partner so well as to be able to predict their every move, thought, and reaction simply translates into a loss of passion, novelty, and excitement. Even then, they may be unwilling to admit boredom because they feel they’ve contributed to that state, or that they should be more grateful for what they have. Ultimately, though, there’s no denying one’s feelings.

5. Disappointment, disillusionment

When people fall in love, they believe in the potential and possibility of one another and their relationship. They may be quick to forgive transgressions, and maintain faith in their capacity to overcome any problem, be it faced individually or as a couple. But after the honeymoon period—and sometimes after years, even decades—hard truths have to be faced. ‘Things are great’ morphs into ‘I can’t live with this anymore.’ Annoyances brushed under the carpet mount up, until someone trips.

6. Changing goals, dreams, or priorities

New couples share ambitions and aspirations. Of course those change over time—but problems arise when they change in different ways for each partner. Perhaps one remains attached to the couple’s original vision, or alternatively both find themselves drifting in entirely opposite directions. Such changes come in every form: religious, political, sexual, emotional, financial, professional, parental, familial. There’s never any predicting what life may throw at us, or how our dynamic as a couple will withstand those challenges.

7. Stifling

This reason for ending a relationship is certainly less common among the many clients I’ve spoken to over the years, but absolutely worth touching on here. Sometimes people commit wholeheartedly to a relationship, only to later experience an unexpected yearning for a return to singledom and what they believe will be complete autonomy. This feeling may be accompanied by a perception of being stifled by their partner, regardless of whether that really aligns with the reality of the relationship. Either way, when it breaks down for this reason their partner is left totally disoriented, devastated that they’ve not been invited on whatever journey the other feels they need to undertake.

8. Wanting more

As a relationship matures, its constituents sometimes find themselves seeking adventures beyond the walls of their nest. When once they ached to share every aspect of their lives with one another, now one or both partners feels inexorably drawn to the outside, and the unknown. Their home becomes less a place of discovery than a sanctuary for regeneration. The relationship may still be comfortable, but that might not be enough. The respect remains, maybe even the love—but these may no longer suffice.

9. Immaturity, or the avoidance of reality

Some people get into relationships without fully comprehending what it means to commit one’s life to another. Or they think they comprehend it, until they actually live that reality and find it’s just not for them. It may stem from the realities of childcare, or sexual monogamy, or financial responsibilities. And while perhaps they truly meant “forever” at the time, now they just feel entrapped by their own promises. For many it’s sadly a case of arrested development. Ultimately it’s a fear of growing up.

10. A mistake from the start

In the light of retrospect, many people who leave relationships see it was destined to fail. They committed because they were young, or naive, or vulnerable, or pressured, or misguided. Such a foundation for a relationship leads to internal conflict, as someone tries to act with integrity while knowing deep down they’re being untrue to themselves, and by extension to their partner. They did what they could to make it work, but on some level also didn’t really want their efforts to pay off. They may feel trapped by their own commitment, by obligation to their partner and perhaps even to their respective families. But in the end, the cessation of the relationship comes as a relief. Now they can start living.

The end of a relationship is a sad thing one way or the other. But on the flipside, life truly does go on. And not in a cliched way—as a matchmaker, my entire job involves me witnessing someone’s transformation from not knowing how they’ll ever be happy again, or how they’ll ever meet someone again, to joy, passion, and wonderment at this miraculous new person.

‘Where have you been all my life?’

Well—they were right here.

Maclynn International is a boutique, multi-award-winning introductions agency with offices in California, New York, New Jersey, and London. We’re world-renowned for bringing together highly compatible singles within our vast network of attractive, intelligent professionals, and our matchmakers are relationship experts in their own right. Get in touch today!