WHY LOVE IS NOT ENOUGH - The 6 Cs
Over the course of the last few years, I have identified six main categories of reasons why people break up. Subsequently, these are also the 6 elements couples need to have a healthy and fulfilling relationship.
The 6 Big Reasons People Break-Up (or Stay Together)
These six reasons, or “the 6 Cs” as I call them, can be applied to help you make sense of challenges in your relationship. For example, if you are going through a breakup you can identify which of the Cs was stressing your relationship. Maybe you had a powerful connection, but your communication and circumstances were your challenges. I’ve often found that when people can understand the ways in which their relationship wasn’t working it can help to give them closure.
These 6 Cs can also be used by people who are debating initiating a breakup but feel torn up about what to do. For example, a person may feel they have all the Cs except the first one, connection, so it feels crazy to consider a breakup when the relationship is so great in general. But without the ingredient of connection, it can feel like something is missing. And so this list can be used for discernment, to decide whether or not your relationship is worth working on, or whether you should begin the breakup process.
Here are the 6 Cs and they are in order of importance.
Do you have a strong, mutual connection?
Do you and your partner/ex have a strong connection, a bond, an attachment? The first and most basic question to ask yourself is whether or not this person has a strong connection to you and wants to be with you, and whether or not YOU really want to be with this other person. I know this may seem obvious, but it’s been my experience that many people feel “in love” with people who are not in love with them, and they waste their time and energy trying to force a connection that isn’t there.
Connection is the first C because without a genuine two-way connection there really is nothing else that needs to be considered. If someone has fallen out of love with you, lost the spark, or simply does not want to be with you, it’s important that you accept this reality.
If you are the person who is trying to force a connection that just isn’t there anymore, read through the rest of this article to see what areas of the relationship may have been strained and may have caused the loss of connection. I often see people staying in relationships that have run their course out of a sense of duty or fear of moving on.
Does this personal demonstrate good character?
The second C to consider is your partner’s character (as well as your own.) Although everyone has good and bad character traits, it’s important that you assess the traits your partner demonstrates. Are they kind, honest, trustworthy, etc.?
Another aspect to consider is whether or not your partner/ex have a history of maintaining healthy relationships (including friendships.) Do they have a track record of being a good friend? Very often we can learn a lot about someone’s character by the quality of their relationships.
Do you and your partner have the willingness to weather the ups and downs of a relationship?
ALL relationships take ongoing work, so an essential ingredient of any healthy long-term relationship is commitment. Commitment to work through life’s challenges as they arise, to be vulnerable and express your needs and concerns, to work on being a great partner, etc.
When you have true commitment in your relationship, you can feel safe and secure knowing that you and your partner are willing to do what it takes to make your relationship work. However, when you or your partner are not truly committed, you risk your relationship falling apart at every bump in the road.
Communication may be the number one issue I see come up as being the most challenging for couples. And when couples eventually break up, it was either because there was a break down in their communication or they never had effective communication skills in the first place. Communicating effectively is a skill that can be learned with effort over time, so it does not need to be a deal breaker necessarily.
One of the biggest challenges of effective communication is that it requires one to take full responsibility for your feelings and be vulnerable. Yes, vulnerable! I know, I know it back be hard, but remember vulnerability is sexy! And if you need a vulnerability pep-talk, check out this fantastic TedTalk by Brene Brown.
Compatibility is another very common reason for breakups, and this can include but is not limited to personal values, life goals, lifestyle, sexual preferences, etc. I often stress the importance of compatibility over sameness. For example, you and your partner do not need to have the exact same core values (that’s highly unlikely) but they do need to be compatible for you to be happy in your relationship. And if you do have a value that does conflict, it’s possible to work through this challenge with commitment and communication.
Some common areas of incompatibility I routinely see are the issue of whether or not to have children or get married, family issues, and lifestyle choices such as how to spend money or where to live.
As much as you love someone and as good as your relationship may be if you are incompatible in a fundamental way that’s enough of a reason to break up. It’s never easy, but definitely better in the long run.
Last but not least is the circumstances. This can include but is not limited to timing and external forces such as family and friends, work demands, finances, long-distance etc. The interesting thing about this breakup reason is that you can have all the above 5, but if the timing or external forces are stressing your relationship it’s often a good enough reason to break up.
Coming to terms with the fact that as good your relationship is, and as in love as you may be, in the long run, it’s not enough. Relationships are not isolated entities, they take place in the context of their social environment.
This breakup reason can be one of the most painful to accept, because finding a relationship that ticks the above 5 boxes can be hard to find. That said, it’s possible to find a relationship that encompasses all 6 Cs.