It’s true that you can’t predict the future, and you can’t help who you fall in or out of love with. Relationships are amazing, miserable, exciting, annoying, and every other emotion you can think of balled up into one. You can be with someone for a long time, and end up being together forever, and you can date someone for a long time, only to find yourself left with heartache.
Although we all hope for the whole ending up together forever thing, it doesn’t always happen, and many couples break up after being together for a few years. Strangely enough, though, it’s usually on the third year that these relationship dilemma happens.
Why couples go through the three-year breakup bump
When you hit the three-year mark with your partner, there often seems to be that looming feeling of dread that’s hard to shake off. What’s the big deal about the third year, and why is it filled with so many potential problems that might lead to a breakup?
#1 Reality hit. Some people get engaged after 1 week of dating, 1 month of dating, and then others wait a year or so. Some people don’t live together before marriage, and some do. If you’ve been with someone for several years, only to find yourself single again, it’s because reality hit.
Look at it this way. You spend the first year getting to know each other, the second year considering maybe moving in together or getting a pet, and by the third year you’ve been living together long enough, but find yourself not wanting to get married. Reality threw you a choice: Is this what you want to do forever or should you leave? That’s when all the doubts come to the surface.
#2 Boredom. Have you ever known a couple that has been together for a long time and you honestly feel they are still together out of dependency and routine, and not because they are truly, madly in love? Most the times these couples end up breaking up, and it’s understandable.
For example, one of my good friends in middle school started dating this guy and they ended up dating all the way through college, only to end up breaking up for good the year after they both graduated. That means they spent almost half of their lives together, only to break up. And here’s why: boredom! They got bored, and they wanted to know if there’s something out there that’s more exciting. When faced between boredom and the exciting world out there, it’s pretty tempting to choose excitement, right? [Read: 15 reasons you’re bored with your relationship]
#3 Physical attraction. It’s a known fact that we judge each other and ourselves on appearances. If you started dating your guy looking like a Victoria Secret model only to now, several years later, look more like an Oompa-Loompa, you’ve really let yourself go, haven’t you? Sure, your guy loves you no matter what, but why would you want to get sloppy and not be the very best version of yourself possible.
Think about all the couples who let themselves go after they get married, and how you always think to yourself you never want to be that way. Or just imagine if your boyfriend is the one who let himself go and gained a whole bunch of weight. Not *.
There is nothing *about having a huge flabby belly hanging out over you during *. You two should want to lift each other up, and be healthy for each other. If you’ve let yourself go, or maybe if they let themselves go, it’s probably one of the major reasons you found yourselves letting each other go.
#4 Infidelity. This one should be a given, and I apologize in advance if this happened to you. You shouldn’t have to spend three years with someone only to find out they were unfaithful. Three years is a long time to spend with just one person. But there are people out there who feel like they want to try other flavors after being stuck with one flavor for years.
It often comes hand in hand with boredom, but sometimes people cheat simply because they can. The complacency of being with someone for three years may give cheaters the confidence to assume that despite what they did, the three years they’ve spent with their partner will account for more than this one act of infidelity, and their partner will take them back. However, this isn’t always the case.[Read: 25 reasons women cheat on their men] [Read: 30 reasons men cheat on their women]
#5 Compatibility. Opposites do attract, and sometimes they don’t. But you don’t have to be opposites to attract, and sometimes you might think you’re a perfect match with someone, only to spend years of your life together to find out you wanted different things in life all along. If you hit the three-year mark of dating, then you usually start talking about marriage, kids, and the whole growing old together thing.
If you start having these conversations only to find out that you want two kids and he wants four, or you want to live in the city and he wants to live in the suburbs, or you want to go back to school and get another degree, but he always thought you would be a stay-at-home mom, then the chances of you two ending up together and having a happy relationship are slim.
It’s important to talk about these things and what you truly want out of life. It might hurt if you end up breaking up, but it will be much easier than getting a divorce a few more years down the road. [Read: 50 important questions to ask to test your compatibility]
#6 Religion. It might be hard to understand a couple with different religious beliefs that knowingly start dating each other, and then they break up after several years, because of their religious beliefs. But it happens.
We sometimes don’t want to believe what is actually standing right in front of us. We think we can change people, maybe not at first, but eventually. So that’s what some people do, especially when it comes to relationships. Some people will be with someone they want to change, but they only realize that they can’t after three years.
#7 Work/life balance. Being motivated and career-driven is great. It’s wonderful when you have such a passion for something, and want to be the best at what you do. Think back to when you first began your relationship and how passionate you were about your man. But as you continue on in your relationship, and get comfortable, the passion starts to take a backseat to make room for other priorities.
By the third year, you’re already pretty sure that your partner loves you. Your partner will understand if you have to spend more hours at work. Your partner will love you, even if you only go on date night twice a month. Eventually, without either of you really noticing, you’ll see that the passion that once fueled your relationship is now fizzling out.
#8 Communication. By the third year, you already know most of each other’s communication quirks. You know what your guy’s grunts mean or you know what your girlfriend’s “Hmmm” texts mean. By this time, you may sometimes think you already know your partner so well, that you don’t feel the need to listen anymore. This is a big mistake.
When you no longer feel the need to talk to each other or express how you feel, you’re just pushing each other away. One day, you both might realize that you don’t know each other as well as you thought you did. And this gap only gets bigger until it turns into a complete breakup.
It doesn’t matter how long you’ve been together, if you want your relationship to last, then whenever you get home from work in the evening, you should set aside a couple of minutes to talk about each other’s day, no matter how mundane it is. Relationships that hit the 3-year mark so many times don’t last much further because they forget to communicate, and they don’t put forth the effort to do so.