Written by Writer’s Corps member Rachel Kearns
Ending a relationship is never easy, it can be difficult and heartbreaking. And when one or both people aren’t ready to move on it may seem better to just get back together. Relationships proceed at different speeds, some people have an immediate spark while others grow slowly over time. Then there are those that continually die out just to flare up again. This on and off relationship cycle is pretty common, with 30 to 60 percent of dating young adults having experience with them.
But can on and off relationships actually work? Typically, they end up causing emotional distress, or worse, unresolved issues are left to fester. If you find yourself in an on and off relationship, you need to examine the root of the problem and decide whether you should confront the issue or end the relationship for good.
Why They Can Work
On and off relationships happen for many reasons. Life can pose challenges that make it hard to balance a relationship and sometimes you just need a break. Arguments may push you apart but great chemistry brings you back together. Or maybe you just don’t know what you want from a relationship or you both want different things.
An on and off relationship doesn’t always have to spell doom for a couple. Having a life balance is important. Taking a break from a relationship might do you good or breaking up may make a couple realize what’s really important. Long distance relationships may benefit from this sort of relationship. It all depends on the factors causing the breakups. But most of the time such relationships just end up trapping people in a vicious cycle.
When They Don’t Work
Being in a constant cycle of making up and breaking up can be extremely distressing and can end up affecting your life outside of just your relationship. On and off relationships have been found to be
On and off relationships can quickly turn toxic as issues are allowed to grow rather than be properly addressed. Dr. Laurel Steinberg says that “Being on-and-off repeatedly with a partner may indicate that issues exist that are unresolvable.” People may find themselves making unwanted compromises in order to get back together. While relationships can require sacrifices, it shouldn’t be just one person having to give up everything to make it work.
The Next Steps
Breaking off a relationship, especially one that’s been going on for a long time, is tough. It can be tempting to give in and take the other person back, but you need to step back and examine the reasons for the breakup in the first place. Are there persistent issues that were never resolved?
If your partner didn’t treat you well and then starts texting you apologies after you breakup and promising that they’ll be better, chances are they won’t be. While people can change, oftentimes they don’t and you’ll find yourself right back where you were before.
It’s okay to end a relationship rather than try to repair it. Not everything can be fixed, and not everything is meant to be fixed either.
If you or someone you know is experiencing an unhealthy or abusive relationship, check out our real-time resources, or call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233. If you’re in imminent danger, please call 911.