Over the past 10 years, as many of the people in my age group began to marry and have children, I noticed a few people who never jumped in.

But these were not the free spirited, purposefully single individuals you may be thinking of. These were people who want someone. They want commitment. They want children. But for some reason, they couldn't get to the deep end of the pool.

As I spend time with those who seem almost stuck here, I often fill my heart with empathy and remedy. But I believe it's deeper then bad timing, poor matching, and ugly habits.

It's fear. It's brokenness. And at the center, it's a terror of vulnerability.

The video below might be one of the greatest attempts of bringing to light this very dark part of our lives.

Sharing your problems often relieves them.

Are you in a serious relationship in shallow waters? Do you pull away from love because of a fear of vulnerability? How have you found healing here?

Share this with someone you care about. 


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56 thoughts on “Do Your Relationships Always Fail? This Could be Why.

  1. Robyn says:

    This was definitely fascinating for me. I’ve always wondered about my singleness. When I was little, I never thought I’d be 36 and single! I never thought that at this place in my life, my last relationship was when I was 21. I have an incredible life! I have really amazing friends. I’m lucky enough to have three best friends that I could go to about anything. I have gone to them about everything! I travel the country teaching other teachers and it gives me more joy than I could have imagined. I know some day my chance will come to share my life with someone. What I loved about this video is showing that it’s ok to be vulnerable! It has taken me a long time to figure that out! It’s a hard one. Being a stronger, busy, Christian woman, I’d rather be there for someone else than being open myself, but there is so much more strength in being vulnerable. It builds trust, it builds relationships and creates an environment for growth! Thank you for sharing, Dale! Your thoughts always inspire me!!

    • Dale Partridge says:

      Hey Robyn. Your response is powerful. You have a good head on your shoulders. Keep leaning into relationships. Thanks for sharing 🙂

        • d says:

          I have only been in love once…to a man who treated me like crap..I dated him off and on for 15 years. I married him and he cheated on me again. I’m broken inside..vulnerable? How can I be vulnerable when I’m just a doormat

  2. matjush says:

    This is so
    true.

    The words
    in this video almost perfectly reflect the situation I am facing. You are going
    to live apart if you pretend that everything is okay and you just go on as if
    nothing is bothering you. There is always the hope that things will change
    somehow. But this will not happen. I am pretty certain: It will never happen.
    No matter how good you might think you know your partner and how good he / she
    knows you, if you don’t share your secrets and worries, problems and desires,
    your partner will never know what moves you. Maybe looking in each other’s eyes
    helps, but still if you are not honest, it leads towards death – the death of your
    relationship or marriage. You’ll drift away from each other. Slowly. Unnoticeably.
    At some point you’ll see your partner as someone in your life who you are stuck
    with and as said in the film you are wondering if there might be someone
    better. The “love” is just a shadow disappearing. The rose-colored glasses drop
    and the person you spend the last months / years with does not seem as
    interesting anymore as he / she used to be. You’ll see him / her in a light
    that reveals inattention and maybe disregard. Flames to dust – lovers to friends (or worse).

    It. Is.
    Essential. To allow yourself to be open to your beloved. Completely! Only then
    you’ll grow together. Trust is built exactly like that: If the other person
    sees that you are vulnerable and you don’t have secrets (or fear this openness could
    be abused). Your partner will do the same to you. The relationship will weave
    stronger and becomes more resistant against “attacks”. I think the goal of a
    good working relationship should always be unity. With that every mountain can
    be climbed. The bad will be survived more easily but the good will vault you in
    unknown spheres of happiness…

    … love…
    what a wonderful creation of God!

  3. ams24384 says:

    Oh my goodness yes. I was in a bad marriage and divorced. So now that I am in a serious relationship with someone who actually loves me and cares for me, I pull away. I am so scared to be vulnerable again. Sometimes, I open up and tell him things that I have never ever told a soul, then when he wants to hold me or touch me to make me feel better, and then I pull away because I just shared something extremely personal. It’s like I want to open up but for some reason I just can’t. I don’t know how. I am so scared of that vulnerability and it is going to ruin this relationship if I am not careful. I don’t want to slowly drift away from someone or feel stuck. I felt stuck before. I just want to be able to love without that fear. I want to be able to open up. I just don’t know how to.

    • Dale Partridge says:

      Love is vulnerable, and there’s no way around it. Just make sure that in your relationship, you’re both taking the risk to put yourselves out there, and it’s not just you with your heart on the table. It’s important to be open and honest about even the darkest parts of our lives. Although we shouldn’t share some of those on the first date. Trust takes time. Remember all these things 🙂

      • ams24384 says:

        Thank you very much Dale. I am working very hard on this. He has put his heart out there. I can put then I withdraw myself. I hate it. I can’t help it, but I know that it is getting old for him. Which I mean I can’t blame him!

  4. Anon Amos says:

    This is a very nice thought, but unless you CAN find someone a nice thought it all it will ever be.
    For some of us, time has passed us by and it is too late for us to find this happiness

    • ams24384 says:

      It is never too late for you to find happiness. I honestly think there is someone out there for everyone. I have had a lot of hurt in my life which has caused a lot of trust issues. I am trying to overcome them. But I still know that there is happiness. I have found my happiness. I know I am with who I am supposed to be with. He knows this as well. You cannot be down all the time and look at the bad of things. You have to be optimistic. You have to know that you have a purpose and that you are living your life the way it is supposed to be lived. Everyone can find an inner peace and happiness if they try. You can’t be negative all the time. I am telling you this from experience. If you think negative, everything will be negative. Be happy. Enjoy your life while you have it because you never know when it’s going to end.

    • matjush says:

      This is so sad! I want to encourage you to be optimistic J. Even if you are 80 years old,
      there is a chance to find (or be found) by somebody who loves you like you are.
      Trust in God, Mr. or Mrs. “Anonymous”!

      Quintessentially all good things and thoughts in life have their roots in love. On the other
      hand all bad things and thoughts have their roots in fear. The fear of having missed
      something often leads to the thought of unsatisfiability. Here is a problem in
      one’s head because there are so many barriers we build ourselves e.g. becoming 30
      – “Oh no, now I am old.” In this example it is just a number. Only a second is
      between 29 and 30 years. The world around you still works as it worked the
      minute before. Only one’s mind is playing a bad game.

      Doubts don’t help. Anger does not help. Neither do panic, disappointment or jealousy.
      Giving up is not an option!

      A little story: I saw a homeless guy sharing ten Dollars he just received by someone with
      another homeless. This guy barely had clothes on his body and probably did not
      have a good meal for a while. This ten Dollars was all he had and he gave half
      of it to another person he randomly knew. What I am trying to say is that even
      the worst situations can bear good fruit. You might only need to change your
      point of view – change your old plans. Don’t be stuck in them.

      As long as you breathe you can make a difference.

    • Dale Partridge says:

      If you are still alive, it is never too late for you to find love or happiness! In the meantime, focus on giving it. Ironically, giving your love away to others reaps huge rewards and brings about TRUE joy. Don’t lose hope. You are not alone in this! Do not ever believe that lie that you are alone.

  5. Behavior Bitches says:

    I don’t think it’s ever too late to find love of any kind. The thing we all have to remember is that you have to be complete on your own and be willing to be vulnerable before you can find love. This is something that I have personally struggled with. I have always viewed vulnerability as weakness, but now I realize that that is part of the reason my relationships have always failed. I am aware of it, and now it’s something I am working on. I also don’t expect someone else to fix this for me. It’s something I have to work on.

    I have a quote that I love, “Two halves have little choice but to join; and yes, they do make a whole. But two wholes that coincide… That is beauty. That is love.”

    We have to be willing to recognize our own opportunities in life and work through them. That is the only way to grow as an individual and become whole.

  6. Sarahfene says:

    I can honesty say that in my past relationships I have been vulnerable. Maybe even too much so because I give every beautiful and messy little piece of me and everything I have to it. But still it hasn’t worked. I think the video is beautiful I just think there is more to it sometimes.

    I’m one of those who would like to be incredibly happily married someday to someone I can be exactly who I am with.
    I’ve never given up on someone I’ve given my heart to. They’ve all given up on me.

    • Dale Partridge says:

      Vulnerability is a beautiful thing, but guarding your heart is still a good idea. You should definitely put yourself out there, but maybe not all of the secrets should come out straight away. Take your time and allow trust to be the foundation. As trust builds, that person gets to know more and more of what makes you, you. 🙂

  7. Fera says:

    I think people see me as one of those broken people that just don’t know how to do relationships right.

    And I hate it. The people that really know me know it is not for me; I don’t want to have to be with someone all the time. I don’t want to have to count someone in.. as soon as a relationship goes past the flirting stage it becomes boring, annoying or even limiting to me.

    A big factor of this is that I have never fallen in love and maybe never will, which I’m okay with.

    I am very happy on my own! I feel free to do whatever I want, whenever I want, and I very much enjoy being me and not having to deal with all the hassle that comes with a relationship.

    Let’s face it; relationships cost effort, effort I do not feel they are worth to me.

    I wish people would take my word for truth and not say stuff like ”You just say that because you think no one loves you / because you are scared / because you can’t get laid.” (<these people are post-college adults). They are wrong: There are currently 2 boys that are in love with me. Both are very nice, thoughtful, fairly good looking guys, and I like them very much AS FRIENDS, but I do not love them and I will not lie to them. I talk about my feelings to my family and friends, however I feel more and more like most people don't believe me and think I am broken and they can help 'fix' me. Or even worse; that I am in love with them, but try to hide it… (-‸ლ)

    I believe everyone is different and people should not be so judgmental.
    I am happy. I don't want or need a boyfriend or girlfriend. I don't need your pity and I am not emotionally damaged or broken!

      • Dale Partridge says:

        Haha me either! But I am glad to hear you are so happy in your independence. Not many people can say that and it should be treasured by you since its a rare thing!

  8. Kellie says:

    This post came at the perfect time for me. Usually I’m the reason that my relationships fail because I close myself off. I don’t like feeling emotions and being vulnerable. This week my relationship ended and I honestly have no idea why. I actually opened up a bit. I thought I had done everything right for a change, but it blew up in my face with no explanation. How can you continue to be vulnerable when things like this happen? It hurts too much to repeat. I read everyone’s posts and they were inspiring, I’m just not that positive. All I’ve wanted since I was a kid was to be married and have children. All of my friends got that and even my younger sister is married now, but somehow I got left behind. I never imagined that I’d be single, yet again, at 26.

    • Sara says:

      I relate to your comment so much at 28 years old, and lately it seems like it’s been getting harder to meet someone as I get older. Like you, I let someone in last year and was unexpectedly dumped. Good to know it’s not just me. It’s probably related to our generation of social awkwardness and Tinder, ugh.

      • Dale Partridge says:

        It’s definitely not just you, Sara. Don’t believe the lie that you are alone. We all too often believe that, and it’s simply not true. Just keep putting yourself out there and taking risks. The right person will come along and will appreciate you for who you are.

        • Evah says:

          Very insightful. I learn from everything you write Dale. Thank God for you. As an almost 35 year old woman I’ve had my fair share of waiting and hoping for the one who will stay. One thing peculiar with my exes is the sudden lack of commitment and not having “found themselves”. Why do i continuously attract this kind of broken men? My ex broke off our engagement recently cos i couldn’t stand how he was always keeping to himself sometimes going up to a month without speaking to me just cos he needed time to himself. Somehow i see it as a blessing in disguise as i can’t imagine what kind of marriage it would have resulted in…and i once thought he was the one. Sigh..

    • Dale Partridge says:

      You still have so much time, although it may not always feel like it. Vulnerability will ALWAYS be a risk, as will love. There’s no way around it. You need to allow yourself time to heal, but never loving or trying again should not be your answer. Trust should be the building block in any relationship – even your friendships – so don’t give all of yourself away all at once. People need to earn it. But make sure you don’t make your future relationships suffer for the sins of your past relationships. Treat every relationship as a new one. And try not to keep your walls too high – but at the same time guard your heart.

  9. Coco says:

    This is sad but this is me. I have known for a while that something is “wrong” with me. I have no problem attracting others to my life who want to be open with me and be with me but it fails because I am unable to be open with them. My last relationship failed because the very insightful man I was with told me that I was broken and didn’t want to be vulnerable with him but that he would help me, unfortunately I was too in denial to face this and ran away. “Professional help” advises I have a fearful avoidant attachment style but wants to blame it on my childhood and my parents. I love my parents! & apparently even find it hard to open up to ppl that I pay to open up to…so I ran away from that as well. I can only try step by step, day by day, to be consciously more open and more vulnerable with the people that come into my life and hope that like the video says I can swim in the ocean of human attachment, love and life, and not be stuck in my shallow pool.

    • Dale Partridge says:

      Exactly. Seeking therapy was one of the smartest things you can do. But in doing so, you have to realize your perspective will be challenged because it will open up corners of your life (especially your childhood) that you never realized affected you the way they did. There’s nothing wrong with that. Even someone with the most “normal” parents will still have some kind of impact on them growing up as a person. I would encourage you to go back to therapy with an open heart and explore that world. Maybe you weren’t with the right therapist, but try again. These issues will have no hold on you once you deal with them, and you will be even more whole of a person to give to someone else when the time is right. 🙂

  10. Nia says:

    I thought I was vulnerable and honest in my relationships… till my husband walked out. While even he will admit that I’m the more vulnerable one, the more open one, and that he is avoidant and fearful and closed off… I wasn’t getting deep *enough* for him or me. I always worried about overwhelming him. I held back a little. I let deep hurts disguise themselves as *safer* hurts without necessarily realizing it. In truth, I think he needed me to be *bleeding on the table open* and see that I was still standing in order for him to be more brave. You don’t know vulnerable love until you’ve faced serious adversity. Till you’ve loved someone openly and carefully and considerately through a long separation, through taking care of an infant by yourself, through the divorce papers that inadvertently show up the day before your anniversary. You don’t know vulnerable love till you’ve gotten those papers, borrowed money for a lawyer, and still been friendly and kind and vulnerable with this person, preserved your friendship, taken them cough syrup and Thai food late at night after you’ve been dealing with the messy day-to-day of being a single parent all day. When the person you love most in the world can self-destruct in such away that it destroys everything in your life except for who you are… and you can still love them with your whole heart and still treat them with kindness and dignity and compassion… then you’re vulnerable in a way that makes you stronger than most. I don’t live under any delusion that I’ll be able to single-handedly save my marriage. But I’m determined to give the person I chose to have by my side love, respect, compassion, and my true self for as long as he wishes us to remain friends. I don’t hide from him anymore. And I don’t overwhelm him either. Because vulnerable is about being who you truly are, making your needs and boundaries known, without violating someone else’s emotional space. It takes courage to let all the hurts show, all the broken pieces show, and to not expect someone else to fix them or soothe them. I watch him battle his depression and I know that I should have been vulnerable sooner so that the real me could be truly present for him when he needed me. I missed it once. I don’t intend to miss it again. If in your vulnerability you aren’t creating safe space for the other person to be vulnerable too… you’re still fearful. Hopefully most people learn that before they lose everything that matters to them. I’ve reached this point because I have nothing left to lose and everything to gain by taking the risks.

    • Jessica says:

      Your post is so powerful and so filled with wisdom. Although I am not, nor have I been married, I still relate deeply to much of what you’ve said here. My boyfriend and I are just getting over a very rough patch in our relationship. Upon talking to older and more experienced people, I came to recognize that much of our distancing and lack of connection was in large part due to the career/lifestyle changes we were making. We neglected to realize that we too would have to adjust to our new circumstances and that we couldn’t keep practicing the same things under new conditions. I love my boyfriend so dearly, and I believe whole-heartedly in the man that he can be. Even though I’ve been the more out spoken partner, as well as the one most likely to “spill it all out”, I fell short because in my attempts at vulnerability I did two things wrong. First, I was vulnerable with conditions, so as to ensure my “opennes” happened strictly on my terms and within my control. Second, I gave him little to no space to be vulnerable with me. I want to know his deepest desires, concerns, fears, etc. I want him to know mines. I want him to know that he will always be stalwart in my eyes and that my love and perception of him will not lessen for his openness. We’ve committed to this vision and our new journey with one another has just begun. We are planning purposefully and intentionally. We are committing to give our best selves through it all.

      • Nia says:

        Jessica, I truly wish you and your boyfriend all the best. A word of caution: Be careful that while you “believe whole-heartedly in the man that he can be” that you don’t lose sight of who he is right here and now and what he needs from you. Don’t let your belief in him put him in a neatly labeled box or create expectations of who he is, what he should do, or the direction your life together should take. I fell so in love with my husband’s soul, was so enamored by the beauty of his spirit, that I was blind to the suffering of his mind and body. It is so easy to put the ones we love on a pedestal and for that pedestal to grow higher and higher with each passing year until we can no longer see our beloved for who he or she truly is.

        I wish you both love, compassion, and happiness.

    • Dale Partridge says:

      Wow thank you so much for sharing your heart, Nia. It’s much appreciated here and I’m inspired by the way you love.

      • B says:

        Nia…I’m sitting here stunned. I’m 4 months away from “my” divorce being final. Your response could be MY response….the vulnerability, the depression…I want to be open, bleeding, vulnerable with my husband……I didn’t know all those years ago….I didn’t know I could have made a difference in his life and mine if I allowed myself to feel…I don’t want to let go of my husband….I don’t want my dear boys to come from a broken home….but my husband doesn’t see it…he doesn’t allow me in….I’m so scared for him……

  11. Ariana says:

    There is a danger of being too open, too vulnerable, giving too much of your heart to an imperfect person. In my last relationship, though we had problems, we shared our souls with each other, and that’s why it was so hard to pull apart when we did, why it nearly shattered the both of us. The fact that we connected on a deep level, and didn’t have to try to connect with each other, and were brutally, beautifully honest with each other didn’t change the fact that our relationships had problems, that we were codependent, that we both needed to grow up. Now it’s even harder for me to imagine sharing my heart with someone, because each time you do, the more of you gets ripped away if it doesn’t work out, and you’re left to rebuild what is left. A part of me doesn’t want to imagine my future without him, and another part doesn’t know how it will ever work, because unless we both are transformed, the problems that haunted me throughout our relationship will be there. They were easy to ignore, when we we were alone, wrapped up in each other, because we had each made the other our home. But sometimes life doesn’t work out perfectly. So yes, being vulnerable, sharing yourself with another person is incredibly important, for life isn’t truly lived until the deepness of emotion is tapped, and the labyrinth of your soul is unveiled–but in doing so, don’t pour everything you are into that person, make them your shield, counselor, solace, and one and only friend. Don’t let it be so that you can’t be who you are unless that person is there, because trying to gain back your identity after you’ve put it in a person is an incredibly hard thing to do.

  12. Elaine Marie says:

    “Tangled Sheets” is so beautifully written and inspiring…it definitely reminds me of this man I know he is truly the “best of me”

  13. cara says:

    A few months ago I broke up with my boyfriend because he had been dishonest with me. He didn’t cheat on me but told me lies, they were about petty things but he had no excuse and I just couldn’t understand why he had to lie. Before that we knew that we had a lot of problems, mostly because I couldn’t open up to him. I know I’m broken, and maybe, he is, too, and sometimes I blame myself for that, for all the pain that I caused him. He gets so frustrated when I’m mad and wouldn’t talk to him. I can’t help it. I can’t talk to him when I’m mad, I need some time, but he doesn’t get it. And then there were times when I would try to tell him when I would feel insecure or jealous, or when I would get angry at him, but in the end I would only feel like I just exposed myself without getting anything because nothing ever changed, even if it took me all the courage to speak up. Or when we would fight, he would just throw at me things that I once opened up to him. That made it harder for me to open up. Now I can’t move on and I’ve been trying to win him back, but he told me to give it some time. I’m still waiting, and I’m not sure if he would still come back. But now I realize again that this is a problem we have to face if we ever go back together. I still love him but I don’t know how to fix some things in our relationship. 🙁 I want to open up myself but somehow I’m still afraid. And it hurts that he let go just like that. Somehow, I was hoping he would never give up on me. Or maybe I’m being selfish and maybe I shouldn’t have expected that from him. That has always been my problem even in my other relationships, with friends and family. Am I that bad and selfish? I feel misunderstood. 🙁

    • LoganShe says:

      You *feel* broken, don’t ever let yourself “be” broken. The first step to recovery is to forgive yourself.

  14. Marie Adams says:

    I finally reached that point this year at 55 where let myself be vulnerable and dove in and loved without abandon..very powerful I thought finally I know what love is what desire is but at what cost,, I was willing to take it to the limit for the first time.. I thanked God even though I waited so long..
    This man almost destroyed me after several months he just let go..no goodbye nothing.. Lie after lie I discovered about him.. I don’t know what the truth is about him. I cannot get him out of my head or my heart and it been months now.i feel like an old Fool..I will NEVER EVER trust a man again ..my heart was so full .. Plus at my age I have no one to share what I am going thru

    • Ariana says:

      I’m very sorry that you’re going through this, I went through a pretty terrible breakup a few months ago, and what I’ve learned from it is that even though I’m sad and pretty lonely, I’d rather not be in a relationship than to be in one with the wrong person. If he could just leave you with no goodbye, then he was the wrong person. As far as trusting goes, it’s hard for me to trust or rely on any relationship, friendship or otherwise, except me relationship with God, because He never leaves me or forsakes me, and when I have him, it’s enough. But I hope you do find a relationship to hold onto that won’t let you down, and that your heart heals and learns to trust again. Trusting is really hard and really scary, but I don’t think life is worth living without relationships.

  15. Damien Jamieson says:

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    Love your website, but hard to get any Daily Positive messages, I have put in my two email addresses dfbgjamieson@optusnet.com.au and d.jamieson@staff.tara.edu.au over the last 4weeks but received no uplifting messages. I am a Maths teacher in Sydney Australia and would love to help a facilitate this inexpensive daily positive message facility. Love your picture of your so, so cute daughter. I have two young daughters and am a secondary Maths teacher.
    Love your great work Damien Jamieson 0409 442 943

  16. Ann says:

    I watched this video and it really hit me on how much I was hiding my hurt with a happy exterior. I trusted someone and when I went into a bad time in my life and was reclusive, they nagged me (like on the video) about it when I just wanted to be loved. By trying to force me out of my depressed moods I just got more reclusive and I admit, mean to get them off my back. They threatened to leave me and called me a product of the devil. So I responded by surrendering and putting on a happy face when I was hurt inside. Thank you for this video. It has made me realize that what feelings I was hiding but I don’t think I have the courage to share them because I have tryed before and my words were responded by defensiveness and my words twisted and spit back at me.

  17. Vicky says:

    This made me cry. My ex dumped me all of a sudden when we lived together. I thought we were happy but all along he had been hiding his doubts and that he wasn’t happy. He was a fantastic actor and it broke my heart. Who knew hiding your own problems could hurt another so badly.

    • Anna Hastert says:

      Hi Vicky!

      I recently experienced the same break-up as you have before.

      I would love to hear back from you and to see how far you have come since then!

      Best of Wishes!

      – Anna. (:

  18. Allie says:

    I loved this but it was hard to watch. Because I have been pushing away love because of vulnerability. Its time for me to have faith instead of fear. My heart was pounding fast when I watch this and goosebumps. wow. Its time for a change.

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