When a couple breaks up...
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Top reasons young couples break up

By Sarah Moses November 9, 06:00 am
How is breaking up different when you’re young? Though ending a relationship is tough no matter how old you are, recent Canadian research reveals the most common reasons teens and young adults call it quits.

When you’re a teenager or young adult, you’re still trying to figure out who you are, both as an individual and in a romantic relationship. And when it comes to relationships, there can be a whole lot of figuring out to do.

'Young people are just developing the skills they need to be in a romantic relationship,' researcher Valeriya Bravo explained to Love Matters at the 2016 International Association for Relationship Research (IARR) conference. 'They are also just developing their understanding of what they want from a romantic relationship and a partner, what they can give in return, and how they envision the relationship versus how it actually plays out. This is all new – it’s uncharted territory.'

800 break-ups

Because everything about relationships is new at this stage of life, it makes a lot of sense that ending one is different when you’re young. But how exactly? That’s what Bravo wanted to find out. So she tracked down almost 800 Canadian high school and university students aged between 15 and 25 who all had one thing in common: they’d recently gone through a break-up.

Why did their relationship end? Was it because they just weren’t into their partner anymore? Or the opposite: did they crave intimacy and find their partner wasn’t there for them when they needed him or her most? Was the relationship casual or serious? The students worked through different questionnaires. Then Bravo puzzled out the results.

It's not you, it's me.

So… why do young lovers break up?

When you’re young, there may be some truth to the cliché, ‘It’s not you, it’s me,’ the research showed. Losing interest in a boyfriend or girlfriend was one of the most common reasons for a break-up among the students, regardless of their age. It was especially true if they had been dating casually.

'Being bored, not wanting to hang out together, not finding pleasure in activities that they share, not really sharing much together anymore – that was really important to the people who were casually dating,' Bravo explained.

For those in more serious relationships, a lack of intimacy was a major reason to call it quits – maybe because they didn’t feel they could trust their partner, or there wasn’t much affection or connection anymore.

The desire for more independence was also a common cause of a break-up, whether it was to have time for themselves or to be able to focus on school or work.

Cheating guys

Guys and girls were pretty similar in the reasons they gave for calling it quits. Well… with one exception: unfaithfulness. More men than women told Bravo they hadn’t been faithful and that this was the reason for their break-up!

The study was in Canada, but Bravo believes that certain break-up reasons are universal when you’re young.

'Among young people across cultures, important reasons for breaking up are likely to be a lack of closeness, shared interests and romantic time spent together, as well as a lack of trust and honesty, and the feeling of not being treated well by the romantic partner,' she explained.


Relationship trouble? Share your problem on our forum: Let's talk.


  • Presentation at the IARR conference 2016: “It’s not you, it’s me…”: Breakup reasons of youth at different dating stages and ages
  • Interview with Valeriya Bravo

Did you learn something new?

Sat, 11/12/2016 - 11:26 am
Am 22yrs nw.hv been datng wth a guy since april thz year.we hav neva met..the past 2 mnth he has nt been the same,he has changed.he doesnt call me..wen i txt,his rply is'please call me'.i need ua help..
Hi Lavender, Sorry to have to tell you this but it sounds as though he has lost interest in the relationship. You need to decide what it is you feel is right for you, you are still in the early stages of your relationship an it does not look promising. Read more here to have more insight on the issue https://lovematters.co.ke/resource/love-and-relationships .
There are many reasons why people cheat on their partners. You might cheat if you don’t love your partner any more, if sex isn’t satisfying, if your partner has cheated on you in the past, or if you feel neglected or under-appreciated. Lying to your partner about your affairs can be a stop-gap arrangement, but it’s very likely that sooner or later your partner will discover the truth. If you feel guilty about having cheated and don't want to end your relationship, confession might be an option. You could also keep quiet about what happened, although the lack of honesty could put a strain on your relationship.
Sun, 01/08/2017 - 08:28 pm
I Have Been In Arelationship With A Guy For 4 Years, As I Talk Now He's Staying With Another Gal In Da Same House But Da Guy Tells Me He Still Loves Me. What Should I Do Am Confused
Hi Sussan, Sorry that you are in this confused stat. The truth might be difficult to hear but if one says they love you they should back it up with actions that reflect It. You need to take time and think about the situation and decide whether its the kind of relationship you would want to be in.
Hi Sussan, Sorry that you are in this confused stat. The truth might be difficult to hear but if one says they love you they should back it up with actions that reflect It. You need to take time and think about the situation and decide whether its the kind of relationship you would want to be in.
Sun, 01/08/2017 - 08:55 pm
We had amiss understanding with my boyfriend and he asked me for some space and this is the first time he asked me to give him some space we used to have some missunderstandings and we could solve them in few weeks but these time it has not even been weeks and he asked me for space l really don't know what to do because am trying to avoid him to grant him the space he asked for but even when l hide from him he makes sure that he sees me everyday and am really confused because he is the one who asked me for some space and on the other hand he is the one spying on my every move and what ever l do.I need some advice
Sun, 01/08/2017 - 10:30 pm
am 24yrs and in a relationship/marriage for4yrs now and its not going smoothly reason da guy do cheat on me on many occassions i even get him right handed he has gone as far as nt calling/texting me so advice is it right to call of da relationship i av a 3yr old dota f6ssh
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