By Chris Seiter

Published on July 12th, 2021

Today, we’re going to be talking about a little bit more of a general topic, and that’s what to do when a long-term relationship ends abruptly.

I guess the reason that I wanted to talk about this is because oftentimes there’s not a lot of people in the industry that do talk about this. So what I’ve done for you is I’ve put together a list of reasons for why exes end up ending long-term relationships.

We’re going to talk in depth about those reasons, but more importantly, I think there’s this need for closure or there’s a need for, what do I do next?

Oftentimes, the people coming to this website are caught in this crossroads where a part of them wants to just simply get over their ex, get over their breakup, and then the other half wants to win their exes back.

So what we’re going to do is help you understand what’s really going on in your ex’s head on why they ended a long-term relationship, rather abruptly. Then after we’re done doing that, we’re going to give you some advice. Rather, I’m going to give you some advice on how to go forward and making a decision that’s best for you.

So let’s go back in time and revisit your breakup.

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Understanding Why Your Long Term Ex Broke Up With You

So ultimately, I’ve put together a list of 10 reasons for why an ex would abruptly end a long-term relationship. I think the keyword there is long-term.

We’re not talking about a relationship that just started three months ago. We’re talking most of the time long-term relationships that have lasted a year to years. Why would an ex all of a sudden come out of the blue and say, “I don’t want you anymore. I don’t want this relationship anymore.”

We’ve compiled a list of the top reasons for why this might occur.

  1. They think they can do better than you
  2. The stability vs. mystery scale
  3. Things have grown kind of boring
  4. The pressure of settling down
  5. They’ve learned everything about you and there are no more layers to peel back
  6. Their feelings aren’t the same as they once were
  7. The relationship has grown so toxic
  8. Reality vs. Expectations
  9. Flirting or cheating
  10. Anxious behaviors: Anxious attachments tend to get overly attached to their partners
  11. Place extreme emphasis on romantic relationships
  12. Have a harder time getting over a breakup
  13. Common behaviors include being clingy, demanding, jealous, or easily upset by small issues.

Let’s begin!

Reason #1: They Think They Can Do Better Than You

So the first reason is I think the most obvious one, which is they think they can do better than you.

Now, this one is sort of the universal reason I like to teach my clients or talk to my clients about, because what is a breakup, if not an admission that someone thinks that they can do better than you?

The Interdependence Theory teaches us that human beings are very cost and benefit-oriented when it comes to our own personal love lives.

We’re always looking for someone that can bring the most benefit, but reduce the most costs. Usually, when you’re making a decision like that, you’re looking at three types of criteria, how satisfied you are in the relationship, are there better alternatives out there, and how much you’ve invested into the relationship.

What’s interesting about that is if you’ve invested a lot into the relationships, which a long-term relationship would seem to lend credence to that fact, usually that is the most important factor. You can be unsatisfied in the relationship. You can believe that there’s a better alternative out there, but if you have invested so much into the relationship, it always kind of causes you to stay longer.

What’s happening here is if your ex can think they can do better than you, usually we’re finding that they’re pretty checked out by the time that they are having these thoughts. Now, there’s always a wavelength difference.

You oftentimes don’t realize that this is going on and it kind of catches you off guard because you’re on a different wavelength than them. But usually, the signs to kind of check for here isn’t so much that they’re flirting with other people though, that can happen and we’re going to talk about that in a little bit. It’s more the fact that they’re checked out.

They’re not as interested in spending time with you anymore.

They’re not buying gifts that they may be did at the beginning of the relationship because that shows monetary investment. Those are the kinds of things that you want to keep an eye out for. Those are the kinds of things that oftentimes lead up to them, starting to think, “You know what? There is someone better out there for me. I can find someone that can meet my needs better.”

Ultimately, this is the ultimate version of the grass is greener syndrome, which we’ve talked a lot about.

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But let’s move on to reason number two, which is the stability and mystery scale.

Reason #2: The Stability And Mystery Scale

So this is a concept that I came up with a couple of years ago that basically highlights something that we’ve seen across breakups when we’ve started studying breakups and that’s the fact that there’s this paradox that exists within each human being.

We each have a need for stability.

We want someone that you can kind of curl up on the couch with when it’s raining, sit in all day and just watch Netflix.

Sometimes there’s no greater beauty than having someone that you don’t want to go out with. Sometimes you just want to stay in. Now, if that sounds like a nightmare to you, don’t worry. I’ve got you covered because that’s where the adventure and the mystery comes into play.

So we have this need for stability, but we also have this need for spontaneity and adventure and excitement and adrenaline. Sometimes these needs are competing and I always try to tell my clients that each person has an individual percentage in which they kind of gravitate towards.

So sometimes people will be 60% stability, 40% mystery. That’s what they’re looking for in a partner. Sometimes people want to be 80% mystery, 20% stability. But what almost always happens is when your ex falls in love with you, they’re falling in love with potentially the thing that you aren’t.

So subconsciously, maybe you recognize that your ex loves to go out. They’re very extracurricular. They’re very extroverted if you will. So you play to that, but it’s not who you are internally. So as you enter this long-term relationship with your ex, they’re going to sit there and expect you to be spontaneous all the time but if that’s not who you are, and you kind of naturally gravitate back towards your stability side, which a lot of people think it’s boring, but I don’t think so.

I think it’s more just like I’m always going to be there for you. That can kind of turn an ex off because they’re going to sit there and think, “You’re not who you were at the beginning of the relationship,” and that can be a reason that sort of the cracks begin to form and they can end a long-term relationship abruptly.

Reason #3: Things Have Grown Boring

Reason number three is that things have grown kind of boring. This is actually specifically meant for long-term relationships because oftentimes in long-term relationships, you do get stuck into those routines and if you’re in a long-term relationship, especially if you’re living together with your ex or living together with your partner, sometimes things have a tendency to grow quite boring.

You want more of that mystery. You want more of that spontaneity and when it doesn’t come, that kind of creates this narrative within where you’re sitting there and thinking, “You know what? I’m not sure I want to do this anymore.”

I think one interesting thing that not a lot of people talk about is the fact that most of the time, when an ex breaks up with you, they’re not going to tell you the real reason for why they broke up with you. They fear that you won’t be able to handle the truth.

So they make up half-truths.

They tell you half of the puzzle, so to speak and you’re left trying to reach in the dark, trying to understand, “Well, why did they leave me?” Well, it could be that you’re just, the routine is boring to them.

They want a change.

Reason #4: The Pressure Of Settling Down

The fourth reason we’ve seen is the pressure of settling down.

This is more specific within men than women.

So what I mean by that is oftentimes women, since their time is just naturally more valuable, they’re pushing to settle down.

They’re wanting marriage, they’re wanting children. They’re wanting the whole nine yards and sometimes, especially when you have avoidant exes and to kind of pause here and look at avoidance in general, people who have avoidant attachment styles really value their independence more than anything else.

So anytime someone comes in and threatens that independence, they have a tendency to push their partner away. So if you’re noticing, you’re in this long-term relationship and for the first time ever, you pushed, “Hey, what are we, what are we moving towards? Are we going to get married? We don’t have to do it right now, but I just want sort of the assurance that in the future, that that could potentially happen.”

If all of a sudden, your ex breaks up with you, you pretty much have an avoidant ex because you’re threatening that independence and when their independence is threatened, like I said, they tend to push you away. Now, the best thing to do with avoidant people is simply just to give them time, let them deal with their own emotions.

They’re not going to have nostalgic reverie that you want them to have until they actually feel like you’ve moved on, which is this really warped way of thinking, but it helps you understand the way that they actually do think.

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So that was the fourth reason.

Reason #5: You Have No More Layers

The fifth reason is they’ve learned everything about you, and there are no more layers to peel back.

This is actually something that I didn’t personally come up with. A good friend of mine came up with. So the situation goes like this. My friend, he was dating this girl and he told me that she might be the one.

Things were going extremely well.

The way he was talking about her, you could just tell he was madly in love. So this was during the pandemic. So we didn’t talk for a couple of months and then after a couple of months go by, we got on the phone again and we just started talking and it was great.

Then I just naturally asked, I said, “Hey, how’s things going with that girl?” He told me, he said, “It’s okay,” which didn’t seem like much at the time but when you actually heard the tone of voice that he used, and just sort of like how unexcited he was, my spider-sense started tingling and I started probing, just naturally, because it’s what I do.

He ultimately told me, “Yeah, you know, things just aren’t the same as they used to be,” and I got really curious because I wanted to help women specifically understand what a man goes through when they’re considering going through a breakup.

He was very much considering breaking up with the girl and so I asked him, I said, “Well, what’s going on?” He said that she’s kind of shallow and I said, “Okay, well, didn’t you know that to begin with?” He said, “Yeah, but the thing was at that point, I didn’t know everything I knew about her.

So it’s when I learned everything about her and I felt like I kind of bared into her soul and there were no more layers to peel back, things just kind of became boring.”

I think this is kind of an interesting insight because a lot of times people don’t look at it that way. They look at it like I want to show my ex everything about me. The truth is though there is an element of mystery kind of going back to that stability and mystery scale.

There’s always an element of interest when you realize there’s more layers to peel back and when you feel like you’ve gotten to the center of the person’s soul, it just becomes kind of boring.

So that might be a potential reason for why your long-term relationship has ended. So you’ve been in this long-term relationship, your ex thinks that they’ve been with you and they know everything about you that there is to know, and there’s no more layers to peel back. There’s nothing more to learn. Well, we actually have ways, going forward that you can sort of fix that, but let’s move on.

Reason #6: Their Feelings Aren’t The Same

The sixth reason for why an ex would abruptly end a relationship is their feelings aren’t the same as they once were.

Usually, this doesn’t happen all at once. It’s a very gradual thing and it does kind of, you’ll notice a lot of these reasons kind of synergize, they kind of build off one another. So kind of going forward with that peeling back the layers and there being nothing left, I think that’s sort of what happens.

Okay, so … channeling for my own personal experience, I’m trying not to use names here so that I don’t offend anyone. I was dating this girl in college and we weren’t specifically in a relationship, but we were in that talking phase and I knew for a fact that she wanted to be in a relationship and at first, there were feelings from my end and from her end. But after, I guess I peeled back all the layers, I just found that the feelings I had at the beginning weren’t the same as they once were.

If you’re going to ask me to be honest with you about why, I think it does directly correlate to peeling back the layers. Also, one of the other things that we’re going to talk about in a little bit is the reality versus the expectations sort of idea.

But ultimately, what happens here usually is if you’re in a long-term relationship, you feel like you’ve known or know everything you can know about the person, you’ll kind of have this epiphany one day and realize, your feelings aren’t the same as they were at the beginning.

This is kind of an irrational thought because the truth is no one’s feelings will ever be the same as they were at the beginning. Usually the best relationships are the ones that can overcome this and can find new ways of looking at a relationship.

But for the most part, a lot of times, especially in millennials, we’re finding that after enough time goes by, if your ex learns everything there is to know about you and feels like they’ve peeled back all the layers and realizes their feelings aren’t the same as they were at the beginning, that can be a trigger for why they abruptly end a relationship.

Reason #7: Relationship Has Grown Toxic

So what number are we on now? 3, 4, 5, 6, reason number seven, which is the relationship has grown so toxic. I’m actually seeing this more so with two types of couples. This is the ones that are very early in college and the ones that are just two anxious people being together, anxious and avoidance being together there. Here’s how this works.

Your relationship has grown so toxic. That means it’s plagued with fights. It seems like every day is another fight and sometimes it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy where you are aware of the toxic aspect of it, but you’re not letting go of the relationship, you’re holding onto it, but you can’t help yourself, personally, so that you end up being the one to initiate a lot of the arguments and the fights. It almost becomes this weird dynamic and I think understanding how anger works is an important trigger for understanding why fights are happening so frequently.

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So here’s what we know about anger.

Anger is almost like this addictive quality. It sounds weird, I know, but just bear with me here. It’s addictive because in a way it makes you feel good. So imagine a situation where you and I are dating. I say to you, “You’re dumb,” or, “Why are you so dumb?” Or, “Why are you acting that way?”

That statement in and of itself is implying that you’re dumb and I’m smart. “Why are you acting so childish? You’re a child and I’m an adult,” which is really, really weird. You get what I’m saying here. Oftentimes when an ex gets angry at you, it’s their weird coping mechanism to project the problems onto you instead of taking ownership of the problems that they themselves have caused. Now, not every situation is like this, but oftentimes when you get into this toxic relationship, it’s like this self-fulfilling prophecy where you yourself are feeding into it because in a way, getting into an argument with your ex feels good because you, number one, are standing up for yourself so to speak. And number two, you are in a way making yourself feel better about yourself.

It’s a weird coping mechanism and eventually, someone who is in a toxic relationship just can’t take it anymore and they break it off. So that’s oftentimes why that breakup occurs.

Sign #8: Reality Versus Expectations

Sign number eight or reason number eight, which is reality versus expectations.

One of my favorite movies, probably my favorite romantic comedy movie ever is the movie 500 Days of Summer and I love it because it’s so valuable for this concept which is we’re talking about breakups and oftentimes the entire movie is about a breakup, about this guy who’s basically reliving his experience of dating this girl. What’s interesting about that is there’s this scene in that movie called the reality versus expectations scene.

So here’s the setup. Basically the main character, the protagonist has gone through a breakup. It’s been a few months. He’s super depressed. Everyone around him is just annoyed by the fact that he’s so depressed about breaking up with this girl or the fact that this girl broke up with him. Then he runs into the girl and the girl, they have this really fun interaction and the girl invites him to go to this rooftop dinner party and all of a sudden, he’s not depressed anymore.

He’s really excited to go to this party and he kind of goes and finds the right jacket and everything. Then the scene begins, the reality versus expectations scene. So the expectation is that he’s going to go to this rooftop party. He’s going to basically rekindle things with his ex-girlfriend and then they’re going to live happily ever after.

But the reality is different. He goes there and finds out that she’s actually engaged to someone else and she’s just being this really nice person and trying to invite him to this experience and hopefully he can find someone new at this rooftop party outside of her.

So oftentimes in this reality versus expectation thing is the reason I bring this scene up is because I find it happens a lot specifically in breakups like this where an abrupt breakup occurs. The reason is because, oftentimes, the idea of dating you potentially is more enthralling than the reality of it. So we oftentimes, our minds are very amazing tools.

We oftentimes have the ability to daydream about what things will potentially be like but then when it actually occurs, we’re kind of like, “That’s it?” There’s almost this disappointment. So sometimes we get stuck into these relationships and sometimes long-term relationships where we keep waiting for our expectations to meet reality, but it never quite happens and that’s when the hard decision occurs. That’s why that abrupt breakup occurs.

Reason #9: Flirting Or Cheating

Let’s move on to reason number, what are we at, nine now? Which is flirting or cheating. This is one is probably the most obvious one of the bunch.

Usually, an ex will abruptly break up with you if flirting or cheating is involved. If they catch you explicitly flirting with other people or explicitly cheating with other people but this is also a double-edged sword. If they’re cheating or they’re flirting, there’s a certain amount of guilt that they carry around within themselves.

If you’ve ever experienced the amount of just that feeling of guilt that you’re carrying around, it can be all-encompassing. It can be an action driver. It can drive you to break up with this person. Rather than admit that you cheated on this person, it’s easier to break up with this person very abruptly.

There’s not too much more to dive into here. I mean, it is what it is.

Your ex is excessively flirting with other people and maybe finding that mystery or venture that they’re missing out on with you in this other person so they leave, or they’re simply cheating because of that. There’s a lot, we can get into the reasons for why people cheat later. I don’t think that’s super relevant right here, because usually, most of the people aren’t going to be experience abrupt breakups because their ex is cheating on them. Usually, the number one culprit is actually reason number 10, which is your anxious behaviors.

Reason #10: Your Anxious Behaviors

So in order to understand this, we need to understand a little bit about attachment styles and attachment theory.

So there’s four core attachment styles. You have secure attachment style, anxious, avoidant, and fearful. We’re not going to really talk so much about secure attachment styles because, really, that’s sort of the holy grail. That’s what everyone should be sort of trying to move towards.

But what we’re finding is most of our personal clients have extremely anxious behaviors. So what do extremely anxious behaviors look like? Well, simply put, anxious attachments tend to get overly attached to their partners. So they place an extreme emphasis on romantic relationships.

They have a harder time getting over a breakup. Their common behaviors are going to be like, they’re super clingy. They’re demanding. They’re very jealous or they’re easily upset by small issues. We’ve all experienced probably in our past someone who just can’t get over a breakup and they just constantly call like every single day, leaving a voicemail or blowing up your phone through texting. Sometimes they’re even as crazy as if you block them, they’ll get a whole new number and text you, which is just a bad look but those types of people have anxious behaviors.

So oftentimes, those anxious behaviors aren’t really occurring after a breakup.

They’re occurring during a relationship, but they’re not occurring from like you broke up with them and then they’re texting you. This is happening in the relationship so oftentimes, they’re getting extremely jealous anytime you’re talking to someone else of the opposite sex, they’re extremely demanding about your time. “Why weren’t you on time here? Why weren’t you on time there?” They’re the type of person that is going to literally stand outside of the bathroom door when you’re using the bathroom because they’re worried that you’re sitting there and texting someone else. They always let their mind go to the worst-case scenario. They’re very upset by small issues, but what’s interesting, there’s almost a paradox within attachment behaviors or anxious behaviors because they also care so deeply about the relationship that it kind of sucks you in and you really do believe that they love you and they do.

They value the relationship with you so much higher than maybe they should, even above themselves. So oftentimes, if you have or have exhibited these anxious behaviors, and we have found that over 80 to 90% of our clients have anxious attachment styles, this could be one of the triggers for why they broke up with you. But also it’s kind of a weird topic to broach. It’s super offensive to say someone, “You need to stop being so clingy or demanding or jealous. You have an anxious attachment style. It’s getting on my nerves,” when they know you’re just going to come back with, “Well, you should love me for the way I am,” but here’s the point. Understanding and identifying why your long-term relationship ended abruptly is only part of what you need to do because understanding isn’t the same thing as knowing what to do next.

What To Do If You Find Yourself Trying To Get Your Long Term Ex Back

So here’s oftentimes what I tell my clients they should be doing if they find themselves in a situation where they’re not really sure if they should be trying to get over their ex or trying to get their ex back. That’s always to implement a no contact rule immediately after the breakup.

Now I know that sounds super traditional and not very innovative, but I think where our innovation from Ex Boyfriend Recovery comes into play is the fact of we view the no contact rule very differently than most people. So most people view the no contact rule as this period of time where they’re ignoring their ex and as they’re ignoring their ex, they’ll make their ex miss them.

But when we actually talk to our success stories, people who have used the no contact rule, gone through our program, successfully won their exes back, or even simply just got over the breakup, they always said that the no contact rule for them was more about outgrowing their ex.

So the way we view the no contact rule is we view it as this period of time where you’re ignoring your ex, you cut off all conceivable communication after this breakup, but the intent should not be used to make them miss you.

Instead, it should be used to rebuild your own life so that you can outgrow your ex and by doing this, the no contact rule can have that added benefit of making an ex miss you, which is just gravy, right? So ultimately here’s what I suggest to you.

If you’re in a situation where you’re at this crossroads determining whether you should be trying to get over your ex or trying to get your ex back is always to do a no contact rule and actually use the no contact rule in a way so that you’re trying to outgrow your ex and then make that decision on which crossroads you should be going down when you’re at a place where you have outgrown your ex, you’re at a place where you have shifted your anxious attachment style to a more secure one, where you know, “Hey, I’ll be okay,” and at that point, you’ll be happy with whatever decision you decide to make.

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1 thought on “What To Do When A Long Term Relationship Ends Abruptly”

  1. Coco

    July 13, 2021 at 2:01 am

    Hi, I could use some advice. I was seeing a guy “casually” but for a year and a half. There is a 21 year age difference; he’s 54 and I’m 33. We started out as friends and then it turned romantic. He was in the process of getting divorced because he was cheated on (his ex is 16 years younger than him). Every time the subject of commitment would come up, he would immediately get uncomfortable and change the subject. He never wanted to talk about commitment, the future, or his feelings for me. I always made it clear that I had feelings for him. I don’t have a lot of dating or relationship experience and he always made comments about how I need to experience life more. He also made comments throughout our involvement about how the age difference isn’t so much of an issue now, but will be in the future. He doubted that when I was 50 and him 70, that I would still feel the same.

    About a month and a half ago he finally admitted that he does have feelings for me and that it would hurt if I got impatient and found someone else. He also expressed jealousy about another man showing me attention at work. But he said he still isn’t ready for a commitment yet.

    Two weeks ago we got into a discussion about the future and he told me he didn’t see things being long-term between us, that it probably has something to do with the age difference and he only thinks of me as a friend. But he told me that he wanted to take a pause on things between us and didn’t want to “end it.” Shortly after, he told me he had a date with someone his own age. After finding that out, I told him that I thought it was best if we parted ways, because I wasn’t going to wait around.

    He brought back some of my stuff and told me that I need to go out on dates and go live life and “who knows what the future will bring.” And that if he’s in the picture then I’ll never give someone else a chance because I tried to back peddle and expressed that I still want to see him, even if casually. He kept trying to spin the situation saying that it is what is best for me and that I will thank him when I realize.

    The bottom line is that I want him back and I’m not sure what to do. My gut is telling me that he’s just scared to give this a chance and that he’s trying to leave me before I have the chance to leave him. He did say that he still wants us to be friends and that I can always call him if I ever need anything.

    I did a no contact period for two weeks and he did not try to contact me. Then I texted him twice, a week apart. He responded positively both times but hasn’t reached out to me first yet. I’m not sure if he is still seeing someone else or what I should do at this point.