Why do relationships grow apart?

Today's question is from Aundrea, thank you for your amazing question. So, your question was:

"When partners are described as ‘growing apart’ (just a term I’ve heard used elsewhere)—what could that be contributed to? I recognized some examples from my own life, such as: the ‘power struggle’ dynamics, as well as the ‘shared values’ importance. I will need to read about the ‘spiral dynamics’ to understand that concept more. I’m sure every partnership is different because of the many variables, but I am wondering how personal growth, conflicts, and changes in values (or even a different interpretation of what a partner believed were shared values / lack of clarity around how those values will present in life) affect a couple’s growth together as a partnership."

That’s such a fantastic question because, absolutely, people do grow apart. People most often grow apart because they either are no longer a match as a couple, or something happens that makes the person re-evaluate the relationship and then decide they’re not willing to work through or communicate about their position in the relationship. The biggest contributor to partnerships breaking down, relationships growing apart, or any other personal relationship challenges that we have, is generally misunderstanding and miscommunication.

If I say 70% of relationships that end don’t need to end, that says a lot. If we only had the willingness to get our teeth sunk in to the relationship, to make it work, to eat some humble pie from time to time, that would make all the difference. But I’m not here to preach to you about what you should do about your relationship. What I can do is shed a little light on the different catalysts for change, or for growing apart in relationships.

The Honeymoon phase

When you first enter into a relationship you enter into the ‘Honeymoon’ phase and you’re so in love. Well, you’re not really in love, you’re infatuated. What’s really going on is that you’re on drugs! You have all these feel-good hormones going through your body, reproductive hormones potentially coursing through your body, and you feel like that person is your soulmate, and you’re getting dopamine hits and serotonin hits and all that good stuff into your system. You’re basically high for the whole Honeymoon phase. And this usually lasts about 3-6 months.

That’s the first phase of the relationship and that's really enjoyable! A lot of people, unfortunately, mistakenly believe that love will always be like that, or believe that if the love is right for them that it should always feel like that. When they start to come off those ‘drugs’ they think there’s something wrong, when in fact it’s just that they’re entering a different phase of the relationship.