The Secret Reason Most Romantic Relationships Fall Apart

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About Lori Ann Lothian

Lori Ann Lothian is a sexy daring writer who challenges assumptions about love, sex and relationships in her columns at Huffington Post and elephant Journal and in feature articles at the Good Men Project, Origin Magazine, Yoganonymous, Better After 50 and more. Former editor of the relationship section of elephant Journal, she is now a senior editor at the Good Men Project. Follow her on Twitter andGoogle. Stay informed, sign up for Lori’s mailing list here.


  1. Brava! Such open and brave writing, Lori.

  2. Lori, that was great…and very enlightening. Thank you for sharing this. It happened here too…Your thoughts have helped me understand it a little bit more.

    • Lori Ann Lothian says:

      Thanks Tom. I’m glad to hear my own insights into my marriage dynamic helped someone else or resonated.

  3. Thank you for your thoughts. I used to date a girl that found so much of her self-worth was in being sexually available to me. Although I enjoyed the attention, I could never convey to her that her value to me wasn’t just sexual. When she didn’t have that sexual attention from me, she believed the relationship was in trouble. The relationship didn’t work out for other reasons. This is also the kind of attitude in a woman that creates sluts.

    • Joseph
      ✺ “This is also the kind of attitude in a woman that creates sluts.”✺

      Can you define a slut for me Joseph?

      And how do you know what is behind women’s actions and preferences sexually ?

      This article did not resonate with me at all. I guess some women feel like this, but I have felt like that nor have I met other women like this.

    • Lori Ann Lothian says:

      Thanks for your thoughts, Josepth. It could be any reason for a woman, or a man, to imagine unloveablity exists. Just for me, two years ago (when i first wrote this piece for my FB notes) it was about my sexuality, waning in perimenopause, and yet having been such a central focus of my worth for many post puberty years.

      I don’t know that your “slut” ccomment was meant in the way you intended it. Perhaps you meant that a woman who believes her sexuality/sexual availability defines her, is likely to be very sexually active or have many partners? For me, however, it was not this way…a 17 year marriage, and a handful of lovers. It was not about quantity, but the sense that if in each union I was not a sexual creature, I was unloveable…

      THe beauty in taking back this disowned piece, is now, two years later, I am at home in myself, whether I am sexually active or not. I have simply unwound that old knot of where I unconsciously felt unloveable.

    • @Joseph,

      “This is also the kind of attitude in a woman that creates sluts.”

      Joseph, there really is no such thing as a ‘slut or whore.’ There are only women whom you like or dislike, for a myriad of reasons. Why do you have to tag or label her a slut?

      Even though I would eschew dating a woman who ‘sleeps around’, I would never denigrate her by thinking of her as a ‘slut’ or ‘whore’.

    • Well done for slut shaming, Joseph. Just what we need more of in this world *sarcasm*. Men have also made themselves sexually available over the years in a different way, would you call them sluts? I suspect not because the double standard you are preaching is clear enough in this instance

  4. Thank you for posting this.

    Post-mortems are rarely fun but they can be useful in determining what killed something. In investigating the demise of a strong sexual current between us, a question arose: Did I play a role in this lockdown of the very dynamic that attracted me to my man in the first place? Because as much as I wanted to blame him for the problem, I was pretty sure my only role wasn’t the one my ego cast me in, that of the long-suffering good sport to my partner’s issues.

    This is an issue I see pretty clearly in almost any relationship around me, and one that I’ve tried to take up to discussion in almost any relationship I’ve been in, when I’ve felt that intimact and attraction have started to wane.
    How can we really expect our partner to keep up a behaviour that first caught our attention, the thing that we first found attractive, if we (when everyday life of relationship sets in) 9 times out of 10 show nothing but aversionand weariness to that very behaviour??
    Do we really expect our partner to be that INSENSITIVE to our feelings based on the way we choose to display them?
    Or do we just expect them to be mind-readers, and only show whatever it is, in the exact moment we desire to see it and nothing else?

    • @FlyingKal,

      ” if we (when everyday life of relationship sets in) 9 times out of 10 show nothing but aversion and weariness to that very behaviour??”

      Why would you begin to show aversion and weariness to something that you clearly enjoyed? Was this just a fantasy? Was it immature infatuation?

      I really do not get this argument.

      I am not sure I get this concept of ‘mood of unlove.’ I need to read this a third time I suppose.

  5. Cont’d
    All at once I understood my man had picked up on this from me—that when I was feeling sexually unavailable, I was feeling unlovable.
    Because whenever any of my ex-GF’s turnded me down and told me to stop making an idiot of myself, for doing something that used to swoop them away. What I picked up from this wasn’t that they felt unlovable (because I loved them…!), but that I was unlovable for not conforming to their standards of my conduct!
    So I mellowed down. Tried to not impose myself! Which leads to the opposite reaction. “Why don’t you ever do X anymore? You’re not the same person I fell in love with!”

    Well, duh…

    • @FlyingKal,

      LOL! Not laughing at you but with you. It seems like a no-win situation.

      • Hi Jules,
        Yes it truly was.
        But isn’t this very much like the situation yourself, and most of us within a committed relationship seem to find ourselves in?

        • @FlyingKal,

          “But isn’t this very much like the situation yourself, and most of us within a committed.”

          Yes, I have to agree. I have been with my girl friend now a year. Things are still going well. One thing I have done with her is to place limits on my emotional availability. Not to be selfish. Rather, to protect myself.

          She certainly has noticed this ‘limited availability.’ Of course she thinks it is related to my prior marriage and all the emotional and mental issues I suffered. She said he knows I can give her more. But, she said she was going to remain patient because I am a very good man who is caring, loving, giving, and passionate.

          We shall see.

  6. Excellent article Lori. Courageous. I believe the core human condition is this feeling of being unloved and unlovable just as we are. And from this stems all kinds of expressions of suffering that we can see around us every day in every area of life.

    This feeling seems to be so deep, this feeling of being unlovable, that it can get to seem that it is actually who we are and not just founded on a belief about who we are. A conversation to be continued I suspect …

    • Does it stem from a fear of (or a sense of?) being abandoned as a child?

      Because as a little child, the only thing we have to connect us with our parents, our family, is love. And then it is literally a question of life or death!

      • Lori Ann Lothian says:

        Without getting into public psycho-therapy, it stems from living out a family system anti-script. Well, it did. What is not clear in this piece, is that two years have passed since writing it. I guess a follow up article is in order.

        • Hi Lori Ann,
          I was actually thinking of this behaviour on a general level. Because I can see it playing out in so many areas. Sorry I wsn’t more clear on that but I didn’t intend to Point at you or anyone else, specifically.
          My apologies./K

  7. says:

    Wonderfully written and insightful. Lori Ann Lothian, I live with health issues and I am currently really being willing to break the “how can I feel ill below a certain level (and be unable to help) AND be loveable”. Whilst there have been people who have helped me create this belief, like yourself I am aware that it is there regardless of the behaviour of others.
    I find the first step in letting go of such beliefs is to allow the belief to be by bringing to bear a gentle awareness and acknowledgment.
    “Oh look, here I am playing that belief again. I welcome all these thoughts, feelings, beliefs and images.”
    Only then to play with…
    “I am willing to let this belief go.
    I love myself when I am (sexual)
    I love myself when I am not (sexual)
    I love myself.

    With the Love we are, Katherine

  8. Hello Lori,

    You can wear glasses, hat and moustache, but don’t you think I’d recognize your hair among one thousand? :)

    I agree with all the ones praising your writing, I like the way you write too. But talking of the core of the topic, I think that something escapes you.

    First preliminary observation: At some point you seem to say something like “I indulged in the previously missing sex for two weeks and couples issues pertained, so it kinda proves it’s not about sex …” Buzzzz !!! Untrue! Just let me tell you something that everyone knows, men for sure, but women too. The fulfilling sensation that you take away from sex, doesn’t only come from the fact that you had your amount of pleasure and your count of orgasms. It’s in a fully shared and deep felt rash of desire. Why do you think that flesh is said to be so sad in all the places of paid sex? In short when the sex drive is only one way, we are not talking of the same thing at all.

    Let’s come now to the question of Love. This thing that you talk about let’s call it “Lovability out of sex expressiveness” makes no sense for me. And here again I feel like you miss a central point. “Lovability out of sex expressiveness?” it happens all the time! I have friends that I really love and strongly. Do I need their “sex expressiveness” to love them? Not at all! And admittedly even less so when they are men! :)
    But that is where lies all the difference, “love” involving us as sexual beings and “love” which doesn’t, it’s the same word but not the same thing at all. And I’m adamant on this, without sex, that first occurrence of “love” just dies, because it needs loving bodies to express itself fully.

    Let’s try to sort it this way: Who is “your Love?” (See I put a capital L for the 1st kind) It’s the one whom you are merging with “body” and “soul”. You read me well? BODY and soul! You want to remove merging bodies from the equation? So be it but you just came out of what I’m calling “Love” and sorry to say it, but also out of what all Love stories were calling “Love” since like ever.

    So let’s say that we really want to face the core of the issue. My own take is this: If one in a couple has really lost his or her sex drive, to the question: “Can they still love each other?” I’ll answer “yes.” To the question “Can Love passion survives this?” I’ll answer “no.” Because “Love passion” needs two lovers that will be merging bodies and souls, and not one sexually nursing the other because she or he cares so much for the other.

  9. I would agree with Leo above that this basic feeling of “unworthy of love” is one that plagues many, if not most, people, male and female alike. And most people aren’t even aware they’re grappling with it. It took therapy for me to really see how the origins of my insecurities and how this played out in my life. I wasn’t conscious of it, but deep down in my psyche, I felt like my lovability had to be proved over and over and over again, and that any time I screwed up, that made me less lovable. So when depression rears its head and makes me feel like a giant screw-up, you can bet my sexual expression, desire and performance simply TANKS. And giving me more love is not the cure, it simply drives me further into denial of my worthiness, almost like I’m being taunted with my unlovability. The conscious expression of this unconscious belief is often anger, hostility, coldness and shutting down, and finding every other thing to blame.

    And honestly, the more I’ve sat with this knowledge and begun using it to confront my demons, the more I recognize these tendencies in the people around me (which could just be confirmation bias, of course). I do think it’s integral to the human experience, at least in this society/culture where performance and achievement are weighted so heavily – one must always be PROVING one’s worth, and worth can be taken away in an instant as soon as you screw up. This is an exhausting pattern to maintain over a lifetime.

  10. Lori,
    There is lots of excellent insight in your article and I commend your efforts. I see the problem in a different light. First, which many have touch on is the definition of sex and it’s role in the marriage. I feel for many sex has become confused with love. It’s become the only way for some to give and accept love and that feeling of “love” has begun to rule their lives. It forms a core belief that dictates to them that sex is their number one need in the marriage. This need for sex is really a cry that says “connect with me”. So many of us suffer from idoltrus relationships where the words or actions of our spouse determine our value. The truth is our value is determined by the one who created us. Further I challenge any woman who feels the need to submit sexually to her husband to study what Paul is really saying in 1 Corithians 7. I write about this more on my site at the link below.

    • I don’t think it’s our value (as human beings) that is determined by the words or actions of our spouse. More like our significance to that person, who is supposed to be a special one in our life.

  11. Great article Lori, thanks.
    From my experience (I’m a psychotherapist who specialises in working with men) this kind of thing is a huge factor in struggling relationships. I’ve also experienced it myself, both from partners having self worth attached to sex, and my own beliefs about being unlovable.
    Will definitely check out the book.
    Exploring the underlying motivations to our actions is such a key element in having great relationships – thanks again for sharing so openly.

  12. Lori, wonderful insights from intimate experience! Helpful to all of us.

  13. ‘So what did I have to lose by being available whenever my husband was in the mood?’

    Depending on the man (it doesn’t seem to be the case for your husband), he’d be less caring about what you wanted and only thought about himself. There is a danger is making yourself completely available at all times. Some men won’t hear the word no anymore and will assume that your job is to be there for him whenever he wants. On a more serious note, some women have been killed by their partners for not making themselves more available to a demanding need. So what can you lose, depending on the man? Your agency at best, your life at worst, sometimes nothing at all. I over analysed I know but that line just bugged me. I also don’t find it hot to be someone’s slave in any form but that’s just me

  14. This is immensely interesting, providing loads of food for thought. Thank you.

  15. I really appreciate the journey you take us on with your writing. Keeping a long term relationship alive and vital in every department might be about this kind of self regeneration and reflection… also humility, intelligence and a tendency to care deeply.

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