Last Updated on November 1, 2020

20 Reasons Why Relationships Fail (And How to Avoid It)

20 Reasons Why Relationships Fail (And How to Avoid It)

As the popular song goes, “Love is a many-splendored thing.” But is it really? We all want to love and be loved. We all want to live happily ever after—just like all fairy tales and romantic comedies tell us. But how many people actually make it there? If love is really “a many-splendored thing,” then why do relationships fail?

As we get older, we realize that love isn’t as easy as the movies make it out to be. Everything always seems to work out in the end in fantasyland. But when it comes to real life, sometimes relationships just aren’t so easy.

Why is that? Why is it difficult for so many people to keep a relationship together? Why do relationships fail? While the list of reasons can be endless, there are some more common reasons why relationships fail. So, let’s take a look at some.

While you look at this list, give some thought about your relationship(s) in your life. How many of these do you experience? How many of these have led to your relationships’ demise?

1. Selfishness

While most humans are inherently selfish to some degree (because of our survival instincts), when it gets to the point that you think about yourself only, then that is not going to make for a good relationship. Both people have to put their partner’s needs at least equal to, if not before, their own. Selfishness has no place in a successful relationship, and it is one of the most common reasons why relationships fail.


2. Lack of Empathy

Going hand-in-hand with selfishness, most people don’t have a lot of empathy. Simply defined, empathy is the ability to see another person’s point of view as if you were them. This means feeling what other people feel. It is seeing things from their perspective—not just your own. If one or both partners lack empathy, then the relationship may be doomed. A lack of empathy often results in unintentionally hurting your partner.

3. Miscommunication

Most people were never trained on how to communicate well with one another. Instead, we unconsciously model the communication skills that were presented to us by our parents. Therefore, a lot of couples frequently misunderstand each other due to a lack of proper communication. Of course, this often leads to conflict if you don’t know how to work through these misunderstandings.

4. Lack of Emotional Intimacy

At the beginning of a relationship, it’s easy to feel emotionally connected. But as time goes by, many times, a couple drifts away from each other. It could be for a variety of reasons, and we can even say that this is a normal phase in a relationship. Regardless of the reason, a lack of emotional intimacy leads to a big disconnection between the two people, and if left unresolved can be a reason why a relationship fails.

5. Finances

One of you might be a spender, and the other might be a saver. How people handle money can be a cause of conflict in relationships, especially when both sides are polar opposites in terms of their financial habits. This often leads to fights and ultimately, it can lead to the end of relationships as well.

6. Different Sex Drives

Everyone has different levels of sex drives. Some people want it multiple times a day, while others are happy and content without it at all. The likelihood of two people in a relationship having the exact same sex drive is not always good. But without a healthy sex life, the relationship turns into a friendship or roommate situation. When intimacy is lost, people feel emotionally distant from one another.


7. Being a Workaholic

Some people love their career, which is great. However, when it crosses the line of being a workaholic, it can definitely interfere with a healthy relationship. Being at work all the time means you are not spending time with your partner. Whether being at work is necessary or simply a way to avoid intimacy, either way, it can be deadly to a relationship.

8. Family and Friend Interferences

Relationships do not exist in a vacuum. Other people in our lives can make or break a union. From meddling mothers-in-law to friends who take you away from your partner too often for a party, many problems can arise from the interference of other people. The key is knowing your boundaries and having proper communication to avoid unnecessary outside interference.

9. Abuse

Abuse comes in all forms, such as mental, emotional, and physical abuse. All of these are equally damaging in different ways. Relationships are supposed to be loving and should serve as a safe place you can fall to if you want to get away from the rest of the world. So, it’s not surprising that abuse can be a huge reason why relationships fail.

10. Addictions

Many people have some sort of addiction. Of course, there are alcohol and drug addictions, but there are other kinds as well. It could be an addiction to shopping, eating, or playing video games. Whatever the addiction is, it only takes attention away from the relationship and puts it toward the object of the person’s addiction. This can end a relationship if left unresolved.

11. Cheating

This is probably one of the most apparent reasons why relationships fail. Cheating in a relationship is usually an unforgivable offense for some people. Cheating also comes in different forms—it doesn’t have to be just physical. In today’s technological age, there are many opportunities to emotionally cheat as well. Striking up a digital relationship with someone else may be reason enough to break two people up.


12. Lack of Commitment

Sometimes, people come together and go into a relationship just because they don’t feel like being single. That’s not a good reason to be with someone. Many people just go through the motions with their partner but don’t feel very committed. If one or both people lack the same level of commitment as the other, then the relationship will not survive.

13. Poor Self-Esteem

When someone has poor self-esteem, their behavior can be detrimental to the relationship. People who don’t love themselves can either become abusive or become needy. Either of these extremes is not healthy in a relationship and can lead to a failed relationship. If you or your partner has poor self-esteem, seek to resolve it immediately.

14. Trust Issues

Trust goes beyond cheating. Both partners need to feel like the other one “has their back” no matter what. Trust is essential because it serves as one of the pillars of a successful relationship. If one person doesn’t think that they can count on their partner for even simple things like showing up on time, then the foundation of the relationship is very weak, and soon the whole tower will fall.

15. Different Stages of Life or Age Differences

While it might be fun for a woman to be a “cougar” and date a much younger man or for a man to date a woman 30 years his junior, it often doesn’t work out very well in the long run. When people are at different stages of their lives, they just can’t relate very well to one another. Different levels of maturity between two people complicate the relationship and if the relationship doesn’t have a strong foundation in the first place, then it will probably not last long.

16. Compatibility Problems

Incompatibility between two people in a relationship is another common reason why most relationships fail. Maybe one person is an extrovert and the other is an introvert or one is a republican and the other is a democrat. Maybe one is Jewish and the other is Catholic. Whatever the difference is, if you have very different outlooks on life, then you have compatibility problems. You might be able to deal with it for a while but eventually, it will cause major issues in the relationship.


17. Narcissism

Remember the first reason on this list? It’s selfishness. But there’s something worse. Narcissism is an extreme form of selfishness. Many of us are selfish from time to time, but narcissists are always selfish and never, ever think about other people. They completely lack any type of empathy whatsoever. This leads to mental and emotional games or abuse, which leads to terrible relationships.

18. Anger Issues

Everyone gets angry from time to time, but when it spirals out of control or if people don’t know how to deal with it, then it can dent a relationship. Most of us are not taught effective conflict management skills. That’s why a lot of people don’t know how to control their emotions properly and fix relationship problems.

19. Lack of Personal Responsibility

If someone is always blaming their partner for the issues in their relationship, they are not taking personal responsibility. As the saying goes, “it takes two to tango.” We all play a part in the life or death of our relationship. So, people need to look within themselves and take responsibility for their actions. If one is always unwilling to take the blame, then the relationship is bound to fail.

20. Apathy

When one or both people have reached a point of apathy—where they just don’t care anymore— then that is a situation that is beyond repair. Apathy leads to stagnation and resentment. For a relationship to survive and last, you need to want it to work! If both of you become apathetic toward each other and the relationship, then the relationship is probably not worth saving anymore.

Final Thoughts

People always say, “relationships are difficult.” However, they don’t have to be. Relationships aren’t inherently hard. It’s the people in them that make them hard. So, if you see that anything on this list is causing (or has caused) problems, then learn from it. Reassess what you think a healthy relationship should look like—and do it better in the future.


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Featured photo credit: Priscilla Du Preez via

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Carol Morgan

Dr. Carol Morgan is the owner of, a communication professor, dating & relationship coach, TV personality, speaker, and author.

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Last Updated on July 20, 2021

How to Overcome the Fear of Public Speaking (A Step-by-Step Guide)

How to Overcome the Fear of Public Speaking (A Step-by-Step Guide)

You’re standing behind the curtain, just about to make your way on stage to face the many faces half-shrouded in darkness in front of you. As you move towards the spotlight, your body starts to feel heavier with each step. A familiar thump echoes throughout your body – your heartbeat has gone off the charts.

Don’t worry, you’re not the only one with glossophobia(also known as speech anxiety or the fear of speaking to large crowds). Sometimes, the anxiety happens long before you even stand on stage.

Your body’s defence mechanism responds by causing a part of your brain to release adrenaline into your blood – the same chemical that gets released as if you were being chased by a lion.

Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you overcome your fear of public speaking:

1. Prepare yourself mentally and physically

According to experts, we’re built to display anxiety and to recognize it in others. If your body and mind are anxious, your audience will notice. Hence, it’s important to prepare yourself before the big show so that you arrive on stage confident, collected and ready.

“Your outside world is a reflection of your inside world. What goes on in the inside, shows on the outside.” – Bob Proctor

Exercising lightly before a presentation helps get your blood circulating and sends oxygen to the brain. Mental exercises, on the other hand, can help calm the mind and nerves. Here are some useful ways to calm your racing heart when you start to feel the butterflies in your stomach:

Warming up

If you’re nervous, chances are your body will feel the same way. Your body gets tense, your muscles feel tight or you’re breaking in cold sweat. The audience will notice you are nervous.

If you observe that this is exactly what is happening to you minutes before a speech, do a couple of stretches to loosen and relax your body. It’s better to warm up before every speech as it helps to increase the functional potential of the body as a whole. Not only that, it increases muscle efficiency, improves reaction time and your movements.

Here are some exercises to loosen up your body before show time:


  1. Neck and shoulder rolls – This helps relieve upper body muscle tension and pressure as the rolls focus on rotating the head and shoulders, loosening the muscle. Stress and anxiety can make us rigid within this area which can make you feel agitated, especially when standing.
  2. Arm stretches – We often use this part of our muscles during a speech or presentation through our hand gestures and movements. Stretching these muscles can reduce arm fatigue, loosen you up and improve your body language range.
  3. Waist twists – Place your hands on your hips and rotate your waist in a circular motion. This exercise focuses on loosening the abdominal and lower back regions which is essential as it can cause discomfort and pain, further amplifying any anxieties you may experience.

Stay hydrated

Ever felt parched seconds before speaking? And then coming up on stage sounding raspy and scratchy in front of the audience? This happens because the adrenaline from stage fright causes your mouth to feel dried out.

To prevent all that, it’s essential we stay adequately hydrated before a speech. A sip of water will do the trick. However, do drink in moderation so that you won’t need to go to the bathroom constantly.

Try to avoid sugary beverages and caffeine, since it’s a diuretic – meaning you’ll feel thirstier. It will also amplify your anxiety which prevents you from speaking smoothly.


Meditation is well-known as a powerful tool to calm the mind. ABC’s Dan Harris, co-anchor of Nightline and Good Morning America weekend and author of the book titled10% Happier , recommends that meditation can help individuals to feel significantly calmer, faster.

Meditation is like a workout for your mind. It gives you the strength and focus to filter out the negativity and distractions with words of encouragement, confidence and strength.

Mindfulness meditation, in particular, is a popular method to calm yourself before going up on the big stage. The practice involves sitting comfortably, focusing on your breathing and then bringing your mind’s attention to the present without drifting into concerns about the past or future – which likely includes floundering on stage.

Here’s a nice example of guided meditation before public speaking:

2. Focus on your goal

One thing people with a fear of public speaking have in common is focusing too much on themselves and the possibility of failure.

Do I look funny? What if I can’t remember what to say? Do I look stupid? Will people listen to me? Does anyone care about what I’m talking about?’

Instead of thinking this way, shift your attention to your one true purpose – contributing something of value to your audience.


Decide on the progress you’d like your audience to make after your presentation. Notice their movements and expressions to adapt your speech to ensure that they are having a good time to leave the room as better people.

If your own focus isn’t beneficial and what it should be when you’re speaking, then shift it to what does. This is also key to establishing trust during your presentation as the audience can clearly see that you have their interests at heart.[1]

3. Convert negativity to positivity

There are two sides constantly battling inside of us – one is filled with strength and courage while the other is doubt and insecurities. Which one will you feed?

‘What if I mess up this speech? What if I’m not funny enough? What if I forget what to say?’

It’s no wonder why many of us are uncomfortable giving a presentation. All we do is bring ourselves down before we got a chance to prove ourselves. This is also known as a self-fulfilling prophecy – a belief that comes true because we are acting as if it already is. If you think you’re incompetent, then it will eventually become true.

Motivational coaches tout that positive mantras and affirmations tend to boost your confidents for the moments that matter most. Say to yourself: “I’ll ace this speech and I can do it!”

Take advantage of your adrenaline rush to encourage positive outcome rather than thinking of the negative ‘what ifs’.

Here’s a video of Psychologist Kelly McGonigal who encourages her audience to turn stress into something positive as well as provide methods on how to cope with it:

4. Understand your content

Knowing your content at your fingertips helps reduce your anxiety because there is one less thing to worry about. One way to get there is to practice numerous times before your actual speech.


However, memorizing your script word-for-word is not encouraged. You can end up freezing should you forget something. You’ll also risk sounding unnatural and less approachable.

“No amount of reading or memorizing will make you successful in life. It is the understanding and the application of wise thought that counts.” – Bob Proctor

Many people unconsciously make the mistake of reading from their slides or memorizing their script word-for-word without understanding their content – a definite way to stress themselves out.

Understanding your speech flow and content makes it easier for you to convert ideas and concepts into your own words which you can then clearly explain to others in a conversational manner. Designing your slides to include text prompts is also an easy hack to ensure you get to quickly recall your flow when your mind goes blank.[2]

One way to understand is to memorize the over-arching concepts or ideas in your pitch. It helps you speak more naturally and let your personality shine through. It’s almost like taking your audience on a journey with a few key milestones.

5. Practice makes perfect

Like most people, many of us are not naturally attuned to public speaking. Rarely do individuals walk up to a large audience and present flawlessly without any research and preparation.

In fact, some of the top presenters make it look easy during showtime because they have spent countless hours behind-the-scenes in deep practice. Even great speakers like the late John F. Kennedy would spend months preparing his speech beforehand.

Public speaking, like any other skill, requires practice – whether it be practicing your speech countless of times in front of a mirror or making notes. As the saying goes, practice makes perfect!

6. Be authentic

There’s nothing wrong with feeling stressed before going up to speak in front of an audience.

Many people fear public speaking because they fear others will judge them for showing their true, vulnerable self. However, vulnerability can sometimes help you come across as more authentic and relatable as a speaker.


Drop the pretence of trying to act or speak like someone else and you’ll find that it’s worth the risk. You become more genuine, flexible and spontaneous, which makes it easier to handle unpredictable situations – whether it’s getting tough questions from the crowd or experiencing an unexpected technical difficulty.

To find out your authentic style of speaking is easy. Just pick a topic or issue you are passionate about and discuss this like you normally would with a close family or friend. It is like having a conversation with someone in a personal one-to-one setting. A great way to do this on stage is to select a random audience member(with a hopefully calming face) and speak to a single person at a time during your speech. You’ll find that it’s easier trying to connect to one person at a time than a whole room.

With that said, being comfortable enough to be yourself in front of others may take a little time and some experience, depending how comfortable you are with being yourself in front of others. But once you embrace it, stage fright will not be as intimidating as you initially thought.

Presenters like Barack Obama are a prime example of a genuine and passionate speaker:

7. Post speech evaluation

Last but not the least, if you’ve done public speaking and have been scarred from a bad experience, try seeing it as a lesson learned to improve yourself as a speaker.

Don’t beat yourself up after a presentation

We are the hardest on ourselves and it’s good to be. But when you finish delivering your speech or presentation, give yourself some recognition and a pat on the back.

You managed to finish whatever you had to do and did not give up. You did not let your fears and insecurities get to you. Take a little more pride in your work and believe in yourself.

Improve your next speech

As mentioned before, practice does make perfect. If you want to improve your public speaking skills, try asking someone to film you during a speech or presentation. Afterwards, watch and observe what you can do to improve yourself next time.

Here are some questions you can ask yourself after every speech:


  • How did I do?
  • Are there any areas for improvement?
  • Did I sound or look stressed?
  • Did I stumble on my words? Why?
  • Was I saying “um” too often?
  • How was the flow of the speech?

Write everything you observed down and keep practicing and improving. In time, you’ll be able to better manage your fears of public speaking and appear more confident when it counts.

If you want even more tips about public speaking or delivering a great presentation, check out these articles too:


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