When a couple breaks up...
Shutterstock / wk1003mike

Top reasons young couples break up

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 find this useful?

Tell us what you think

Recent Comments (27)

  1. Am 22yrs nw.hv been datng wth
    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..

    1. Hi Lavender,

      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 .

    1. There are many reasons why
      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.

  2. I Have Been In Arelationship
    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

    1. Hi Sussan,

      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.

    2. Hi Sussan,

      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.

  3. We had amiss understanding
    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

    1. What would you like advice on
      What would you like advice on?

  4. am 24yrs and in a
    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

    1. Hi,


      Sorry that you are going through this. Being cheated on is a painful experience.
      Cheating of any form can cause a lot of sorrow in relationships.

      Finding out that your partner’s been cheating on you can be a traumatic experience. It can seriously damange the trust between the two of you and could even lead to a break-up, separation or divorce. You might spend days, weeks or months wondering what you did wrong and why this happened.

      But don’t blame yourself – take some time to calm down and think about your relationship.

      Whether you want to stay with your partner depends on a number of things. Is your partner willing to go on? If they are, what will it take for them to regain your trust? Will your trust in them ever be restored? How can you start rebuilding your relationship? The answers may not be simple, but give these questions some thought and it might help you decide on the right path to take.

      Read more on cheating here https://lovematters.co.ke/news/cheating-top-five-facts .

  5. am a 18yr old gal en i have
    am a 18yr old gal en i have been in love with a guy en i lied him that am married to test how he would react but we ended up chacking violently so wat can i do 4 such a guy

  6. I have been in a relationship
    I have been in a relationship for two yrs now n I love this guy alot as he also do he took me to his parents bt we are both in campus .we have been dating n the problem comes that this boy asks for more than i can in bed n he gets mad when I say that am tired we have been talking abt it on how to settle this BT it sims that our emotional balance are not the same bt we love each other alot plZ help on how to go abt it

    1. Hi Maggie,

      Hi Maggie,

      You should not be forced to do anything against your will. That is the same as abuse. You should know that you have the right to say no anytime you do not want to have sex and no on should make you feel guilty about it.

      Read more here https://lovematters.co.ke/resource/how-say-no- .

  7. I have been dating a married
    I have been dating a married guy for 7months now we are still together but he wants live sex no condoms .

    1. Thanks for sharing that Lynn.
      Thanks for sharing that Lynn. Do you have a question about it?

  8. Hey I’m confused,I’m in love…
    Hey I’m confused,I’m in love with two girls,both of them are awesome though one is skinny and the other one has a big butt,the skinny one has helped me alot but I’m into big butt girl. What do ido

  9. Hey Kamp, you can’t have…
    Hey Kamp, you can’t have them both. You have to choose the one who best represents what you want now and in the future. Only you can do that, take sometime and think about what you want and who you want and then choose. You will need to breakup with the one you don’t feel best represents what you want.

  10. Hi ï find it difficult to…
    Hi ï find it difficult to trust someone who has broken trust before. How do ï go about this

  11. Hey XYZ, Trust is important…
    Hey XYZ, Trust is important for any relationship. A good place to start is by addressing the reason that led to the broken trust and then take one day at a time together to rebuild trust, it will take time for trust to be built again. It is also important to think about whether you are capable or willing to trust a person after trust has been broken. Have a look at this article;- https://lovematters.co.ke/love-relationships/breaking-up/knowing-when-to-break-up

  12. Am 20yrs old hv been in…
    Am 20yrs old hv been in arelationship 4 lyk 1yr en half bt my guys seem to love me bt doesnt want me he doesnt care if am annoyd his rude smtyms if i dnt txt he wont to kol i first ask him nw we hv a misunderstandg i askd 4 space it is right i nid advice

    1. Hey Claire, if you felt you…

      Hey Claire, if you felt you needed space then the right thing to do was to ask for exactly that. It is also important that you think about what you want in a partner and relationship before making a decision on whether to go back or break up. If you do choose to get back with your partner, it will be important you talk about what your expectations are and have your partner also share their expectations. This way you can make a decision on how or whether or not to proceed with the relationship. Have a look at this article;- https://lovemattersafrica.com/love-relationships/relationship-problems/jealousy-and-other-problems

  13. hallo am gladys, am in…
    hallo am gladys, am in abussed marrienge, need your advise

  14. Hello Gladys, thank you for…

    Hello Gladys, thank you for getting in touch and we are so sorry you are going through a hard time. We are here for you. What kind of abusive relationship are you in? Is it physical abuse? Talk to us and also please call 1195. It is a domestic abuse hotline known as Aunty Jane. You can report your situation with them and they will provide whatever support you require dear. Stay strong and know you are not alone. 

  15. Hi am sonu 22 I was in…
    Hi am sonu 22 I was in relation when she was 16 but after some time I broke up because she was to young after 6 months when she get 17 I patchup with her nd she said I keep waiting for you so I decided to be make true relation but after some time I get possesive on her she then also started promissing me that she will always love me but after some time I start everyday fight so afteR she gets 18 she left me because of me her frnd left her and that’s true so she brkup with me I tried but she don’t patchp with me . After every 2 weeks she kept texting me just hi but I was rude that time I was angry on her but after 4 months I changed myself fully I ask her for relation patchap but she refuse me and she’s saying I like someone but she’s not telling me his name I think she’s lying what have to I do please me

    1. Hi Sonu, 

      She is not lying,…

      Hi Sonu, 

      She is not lying, either because there’s someone else or she does not want to be with you. Either way, she is not ready for a serious and committed relationship with you. The best thing to do is to move on with your life like you had before. Here are tips to deal with a break up: How to heal with a breakup. If you need someone to talk to, call 1190 for free. 

LoveMatters Africa

Blush-free facts and stories about love, sex, and relationships