Having worked for many years with people battling the demons of self-destructive behaviors, I understand both the heartaches of those addicted and those who love them.
Addictive compulsions seduce people into their webs by offering short-term gains while masking long-term losses. Sadly, those who fall prey to those seductions pay far more over time than the immediate satisfaction ever can compensate.
New couples prioritize their choices in favor of each other’s wants. They make their partners central to their lives, and often put aside their compulsive behaviors in the early stages of their relationship. If those addictions resurface over time, they will take priority over the relationship.
Most think of addictions as the abuse of substances, but there are many kinds of behaviors that qualify. Workaholics often put their career aspirations aside in the throes of new love, but once established in that relationship, may return to long hours away.
Some people are social-holics. They express their compulsion by needing to maintain constant access to multiple online and in-person commitments. Others have to work out several hours every day, or they cannot manage the anxiety they feel when they don’t.
What makes all of these addictive behaviors similar is their intrusion into the mutual needs of the relationship. Once addicted, that partner will put the other second to that hunger. A potential dealbreaker is in progress.
Biases are set-in-concrete thoughts, feelings, and opinions that can become a problem if the partners do not see things in the same way. Deeply entrenched thoughts and feelings that are widely different or disparate can drive a wedge between the partners, especially if they were withheld at the beginning of the relationship.
Sometimes these differences only emerge when children enter the equation, like which parent’s religion should take precedence. Other times, political biases that didn’t seem important earlier may emerge during a political season.
There are many occasions in which new love’s passion hides underlying sexual preferences or desires that one partner has withheld from the other, and are rebuffed or mocked when they eventually emerge. Even longstanding friendships that preceded the relationship may now interfere.
8. Negative Surprises
Once a relationship matures, most partners have shared most of any past experiences that could affect their current relationships. Unfortunately, there are times when people have done things in their past they feel would disenchant or offend their current partner. They never expect that those past experiences would reappear, and so believe that their decision to keep them hidden is the best choice.
Sadly, the emergence of these hidden truths can have a doubly bad effect. Not only does the current partner have to deal with the now-known event, but also the concern as to what else may still be unrevealed.
There are several factors that determine the outcome: How severe was the hidden behavior? What are the reasons it was withheld? Does the couple have the motivation, commitment, and tools to work through it?
Here are just a few examples that have become deal-breakers:
- A child, placed for adoption, reemerges and asks for a relationship with the birth parent
- A time spent in prison
- A history of a potentially inheritable disease
- An addictive background, personal or familial
- A sexual trauma from childhood
- A large debt that was never paid
- Fertility issues
- A relative who committed suicide because of a mental illness
9. Unpredictable Events
Perhaps the saddest of dealbreakers are the unanticipated circumstances that can happen outside of either partner’s control. If they are cumulatively resource-demanding, or they simply exhaust the capabilities of the relationship, they can overwhelm the best of partnerships.
Multiple stressors or unending demands can turn a once-harmonious partner into an irritated, reactive, uncaring person. What feelings and behaviors both partners could once count on are now in short supply.
Increasing pressures can weigh down any relationship, especially if they are long-lived and crucial to the health of the partnership. Financial losses, deaths of loved ones, illnesses, or excessive cumulative disappointments can cause mistrust and sometimes betrayals, as one or both partners seek consolation outside of the relationship.