6 common reasons couples break up — even if they really care about each other

  • Breakups are hard, but sometimes necessary — even when two people care about each other.

  • A psychologist says there are some common reasons that relationships end.

  • Overlooking early incompatibilities and not helping each other reach goals can lead to breakups.

Breakups are notoriously difficult and painful — but sometimes they're necessary.

Working hard to keep a relationship together when it's not meant to be can backfire and lead to more heartache down the road, especially if you're sweeping problems under the rug.

"Two truly nice, lovely people could be in a relationship together, and it could just not work because they don't mesh with what they need from each other," Susan South, a professor of clinical psychology at Purdue University, told Insider.

South spoke with Insider about some of the most common reasons couples fight and break up, even if they really care about each other.

1. They ignored incompatibilities early on

While commitment is crucial to a healthy relationship, South says some couples can overlook incompatibilities early on for the sake of staying together.

In the beginning, "they feel like they can get past whatever differences they have with this person," but that's not always true, she says.

"Whatever you're fighting about when you first get into a relationship, that's probably what you're going to be fighting about 20 years down the line just because your personality isn't going to change that much," she said.

South says if a couple can't face those differences and accept them, they can end up fighting more often because "once you feel committed to someone, you want to make it work."

But once two partners finally face that crucial incompatibility, they might break up — and wish they had years earlier.

2. They're not aligned on big things, such as money or kids

Aside from personality differences, some couples may avoid talking about big, nonnegotiable views such as finances and family.

South says that "handling money, whether you want children, and how to raise children" are some major disagreements that can drive couples apart. That's why she recommends talking about them before making big commitments such as getting married.

3. They don't help each other reach their goals

Beyond getting along with each other, South says, it's important for couples to continually help each other reach their goals, whether it's running a marathon or finding a different job.

She cited a 2022 study that found couples who supported each other's goals thrived together more. "Relationships don't work when your partner doesn't care or doesn't want to help you towards those goals," she said.

Over time, if couples feel stuck or unsupported in achieving things outside the relationship, it can lead to a breakup.

4. They changed significantly over time — and didn't grow together

While South says people's personalities don't usually change too much over time, she says there can be circumstances in which one or both partners become "very different than the person that you first got in that relationship with."

For example, if someone is dealing with untreated mental illness, that can create big rifts in the relationship. "Those are things that are going to really significantly impact how you are with your spouse or romantic partner," she said.

If you can both grow and learn from the experience, then you may be able to move forward together. But if one person grows and the other person doesn't, it could lead to a separation.

5. They get contemptuous in fights

While all couples fight, how they fight can predict a breakup down the line.

South says couples who can "be respectful of each other's position or can at least find some humor in the argument" have a better chance of staying together than the ones who get contemptuous or highly critical of each other.

6. They can't fully open up around each other

South says there can be individual differences in how comfortable people are with sharing about themselves. For example, people who are more extroverted may be more comfortable sharing details about their lives than introverts.

But, she says, there can also be differences in how quickly we want to open up to certain people.

"If you're not wanting to share more, this person may not be the right one for you," she said.

Over time, one or both people might realize there are aspects of themselves they don't feel comfortable sharing with the other person, leading to a breakup so they can find someone more compatible.

Read the original article on Insider