That situation is a world away from when the decision is entirely one-sided. If one partner is done while the other wants the relationship to continue, the latter is left heartbroken, devastated, and at a complete loss as to what to do with their life. For their part, the partner who’s instigated the breakup will often have to deal with the guilt, even if they believe they’ve made the right call.

…And in turn, even that is way less complicated than when the decision maker realises weeks, months or even years later that they’ve made a mistake.

Perhaps it’s just the rose-tinted glasses, but they miss the good times, and they reframe the bad times as just the normal trials and tribulations of making a life with another person. Maybe they even wonder whether they’ve lost the love of their life—but of course, now their ex may be happy and content with someone else. And even if they’re single, they may not be willing to walk that path again. Still, the partner who initiated the breakup is overwhelmed with regret—and they can’t walk a different path until they know for sure it’s over forever.

As a matchmaker, I’ve heard countless stories of regretful breakups, those crucial junctures in life that my clients recognise only with the power of hindsight were utterly formative in their relationship history and personal development. Most eventually moved on from that regret, but some just couldn’t let go of the past. And of course, some did rekindle that love with a never-forgotten ex—to varying degrees of success.

In my experience, it’s quite unusual to meet someone who’s never instigated a breakup they’ve ended up regretting. That’s why today I’m laying out the 3 most common reasons I’ve heard from clients about why they ended relationships prematurely. Perhaps you’re reading this because you’re on the verge of doing the same. Maybe you’ve just been broken up with and your ex’s reasons simply don’t stack up. Whatever your circumstances, I hope I can shed some light for you.

1. Lack of readiness for a long-term relationship

Once they’re in a relationship and beyond the honeymoon phase, some people suddenly feel they’re simply not wise or experienced enough to be able to promise a future they can’t foresee. That may be because they feel they don’t know their partner well enough—but also perhaps because they don’t know themselves well enough. They can’t say with certainty that they won’t one day wake up and want something different, yearning to explore alternative ways of living. Ultimately they must make a choice: opt for security, and a future with someone who definitely seems right for them—or venture back out into the world, alone, and see what else the universe has to offer.

2. Fear of commitment

Some people struggle to differentiate between commitment and entrapment. They feel pressure to make promises they know they can’t keep, especially when faced with someone amazing who is ready for the long term. When the relationship loses its novelty and reality sets in, these people retract their efforts. Sometimes they almost wilfully bring about the demise of the romance, creating conflict from nothing to hide the real reason for their lack of commitment. Sadly, people who fear commitment often conceptualise a relationship merely as something confining and obligatory, not expansive and liberating.

3. Lack of faith in successful long-term relationships

There’s all manner of reasons why someone might be sceptical about love and romance. Perhaps their parents had an acrimonious divorce when they were a child,and it’s left a lasting impact on their perception of relationships. Maybe they’ve been unlucky in love and now their walls are well and truly up. But however this outlook has come about, when someone is unable to stop their past defining their future, they feel the fear once the honeymoon phase wanes. Instead of energetically embracing the next stage of their relationship and growing ever more emotionally intimate with their partner, they withdraw. They’re on the lookout for the slightest indication that all is not well. They expect disaster—and that attitude constitutes a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Love is sacrifice—and that’s a good thing

Love takes work. It takes effort, vision, and dedication. It requires both partners to be completely and utterly ‘in’—to know that their individual and collective happiness depends on making sure they’re always attending to the other’s needs.

However, when it comes to people who are wary of long-term relationships, if they end up with anyone at all it’s likely to be a person doesn’t ask much of them. That might sound like the ideal setup to the commitment-phobe—until boredom sets in, as they realise that anything meaningful in life demands by necessity intensive passion, commitment, and—yes—sacrifice. So when their low-maintenance relationship inevitably becomes routine and predictable, they seek excitement elsewhere. Or, indeed, they seek the real love they knew they once had with another, way in the past—and regret takes hold.

It’s eminently possible to reignite an old relationship—but the regretful ex who initiated the breakup back in the day must be willing to change. Otherwise history will repeat itself. If they can recognise what went wrong in their thought patterns the first time around—and if they can rebuild trust and emotional intimacy with their partner—there’s no reason they can’t learn from their mistakes, appreciate what they have—and never again let it go.

Maclynn is a boutique, multi-award-winning introductions agency with offices in New York, New Jersey, California and London. We’re world-renowned for bringing together highly compatible singles within our vast network of attractive, intelligent professionals, and our matchmakers are relationship experts in their own right. Get in touch today, and prepare for genuinely meaningful dating—just like you deserve.