13. December 2016 Sam Ryter

Why Relationships Don’t Work (7min read)

Here’s why relationships don’t work out and what you need to know to create healthy and fulfilling relationships in your life.

Relationships fail for hundreds of reasons. And to be honest, it’s really not always easy to have fulfilling and healthy relationships. We are all human beings, we make mistakes. Many of them. Every day…

But we are also learning, and after meeting and working together with people from all over the world, I came to see that we ALL have something in common. We all want to experience love… Just love.

In this article I want to cover why relationships usually fail. I’m clearly seeing and having compassion for all the different stories behind broken relationships.

I’m aware that there are thousands of reasons why relationships don’t work out, but let’s focus on the fundamentals. Because I know, once we get clear on the fundamentals, many of the stories become obsolete.

Now, if you’re finding yourself in a (love-)relationship or not doesn’t really matter. In fact, we are all in relationships. With our friends and families, the neighbour’s cat, the people we see in public, nature, yourself… Literally everything you encounter in your life is in relationship with you.

Therefore, this article can positively affect your love-relationship with your partner, or your relationships at work. Both are possible.

Before we start, I want to encourage you to read this article with an open mind, and once we can look at the bigger picture and reflect the principles on our own lives, then you may experiene big shifts in your life and your relationships with others.

So let’s explore.

1. You are not yourself

Bad relationships lack in communication. And communication doesn’t necessarily mean “throwing words against each other”. Communicating is expressing genuinly, honestly and from a place of love what’s going on.

It feels like torture when there is no clarity in a relationship.

Now, what often happens is that people hold back. They don’t speak their truth because of an underlying fear of losing something. But a healthy relationship is based on love and not on fear.

Whenever people are living from a place of fear – meaning not being clear, putting on a mask in order to impress the other person, not showing up authentically but trying to hide certain aspects from one another – then a relationship is on the way to its failure.

Fear disconnects people from each other.

Deep connections happen then, when people take away their layers of fear. And this comes back to self-acceptance.

Being accepted by the other person is something we can’t control. But playing a role that is out of your integrity – just to be accepted – won’t serve anyone in the long term.

Being yourself means giving all of you. Without holding back because you know, you can’t be hurt. And the only person who can hurt you is yourself. This is a higher perspective, but right here we shift into a place of unconditional giving. A fundamental habit to make a relationship work.

Too often relationship fail because people making it a game, a trade, and they constantly try to control the outcome instead of just being real, honest and open about themselves.

Love is opening up, showing up vulnerably. Everything else is fear.

2. You’re not willing to learn

Byron Katie once said „All your advice you’ve ever given to your partner, is for you to hear.“ And this is one of the most profound quotes I’ve ever heard.

The people we meet in our lives are the mirrors of our own internal world.

There are people who attract the same kind of  people over and over again in their lives. But instead of reflecting and learning something about ourselves, we often tend to blame the circumstances.

My relationships have become my biggest personal teachers. The more intimate it gets the more I’m able to learn about my own little fears. I’m growing so much, and to me, having deep, intimate relationships is a school of life. A school of self-love, a school of self-acceptance.

Let’s take an example: You and me are going for a drink together. After a while, someone walks up and calls each one of us an „asshole“.

Now, just by hearing that word, I might react completely different than you. I might get triggered, angry. Having this huge feeling of injustice. Getting into confrontation, into a fight. And my whole day would be messed up – because of one particular word.

You might react completely different. You hear the word and might think:”Wow, that’s interesting. How much does this expression have to do with me, and how much with this persons own pain?” And you might realise that you did something that triggered something within the other person. Now you learned something about the painpoints of the other person. You learned something about yourself.

Life is a teacher. And as we can shift that understanding that life doens’t happen to us, but for us, we can shift from being the victim of our relationships into the student that is constantly growing.

The worst mistake people make, and the reason why they are stuck in the same unfulfilling relationships, over and over again, is because they avoid to take a look inside.

Ultimately it’s you, that attracts your circumstances.

Relationships often don’t work because of an ignorance of learning something about ourselves, and we keep blaming the other person and people don’t grow together. What’s not growing is dying.

3. Focussing on your needs only

A relationship is a co-creation and it works then when both share unconditionally… And they don’t work, when we are in for selfish reasons only.

As we think about how much we can get out of a relationship, then we miss to connect and to co-create. We don’t really care and try to understand the other person.

It’s very easy to get caught up in egoistic thinking. We all do it at times. We just think about us, our own needs, our own problems. It’s all about me, me, me… And in fact, society conditions people to think that way to a certain degree. We live in a world of separation and competition (Read the full article “Why our modern values create separation” here). But the key is to become aware of that from time to time, and to zoom out, and realise that it’s not always just about me. 

The moment we shift our focus from what we can get to what we can give, and we let go of the fear (of not getting anything back), then we start to build a strong fundament for an incredible relationship.

It takes some courage, and trust to see that a fulfilling connection is all about giving unconditionally. In fact, this is all you can control. What you get back in return, is something you can’t, but too many times people try to… And that’s exhausting and depressing.

I found over and over again that being in an authentic relationship where you give unconditionally, you get something back that is more than words can describe.

The best examples for that are the unconditional way a mother gives to her child. This is pure love, infinite energy. And this is something that is within all of us. As we let go of trying to control others.

Conclusion: Shifting from Fear to Love

Relationships never truly work when they are based on fear! And experiencing love or fear is a question about your internal world.

That understanding changed my life so profoundly, because I came to realise that the quality of my relationships with others equals the quality of the relationship I have with myself.

If I’d hate myself, I’d experience hate in my relationships. If I don’t trust myself, I’d experience distrust in my relationships.

Having this understanding let’s us move up to another level. We can zoom out and realise that the way to deep and loving relationships is the way back to ourselves.

So, we can make the decision now, to stop being the victim, but rather stepping into the role of the creator. Of taking responsibility and leadership. To give all of us. And to move from those little fears into love. Because this, at the end of the day, is what we all want.

Question: What’s your biggest challenge in your current relationship? Please let me know in the comments!


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Quotes for you to share!

byron-katie-job-to-like-me byron-katie-advice-for-you walsch-purpose-of-relationship

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Sam Ryter

Sam Ryter is an author and professional coach. He helps people to create deeper and more fulfilling relationships with others, the world and themselves.

Comments (4)

  1. reginaldo

    my big challenge in relationship is to try to do all my best to satisfy my daily relationship by giving love rather than fear!!!
    love in words, in submission,in deeds, clarity, humility, patience, and much more.

  2. Darran Hurst

    Thanks Sam that was very succinct and really hit home. I do most of these things and I’m pretty sure this is where a lot of my relationships fail. I connect really well at first then I hold back. I’m going to correct this though.

    • Sam Ryter

      Thank you Darran! Most of us face those struggles, I believe. It’s great to be aware of it. Then we can change our thinking. A great question in a situation like that would be: What am I afraid of, that I hold back?

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