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On-and-off Relationships: What’s the Big Deal with Them and Why are They so Unhealthy?


A majority of modern relationships today experience the unnerving cycle of being on and off. In fact, it’s become such a common practice today that pop culture virtually idolizes it in the media through romcoms and sitcoms!

That being said, the practice of being on and off can have catastrophic effects on a relationship, as well as the mental health of the individuals.

The Influences of Modern pop culture

In fact, according to the data collected from a study carried it in Columbia by the University of Missouri, research was carried out on 500 individuals who were coupled, with 60 percent of the case study having felt the effects of an on and off relationship.

On and off relationships are among the unhealthiest for both individuals in the relationship

According to the study, individuals that had experienced an unstable relationship had lesser rates of commitment, high chances of abuse, and poorer communication.

Hence, these kinds of relationships were greatly linked to psychological issues such as anxiety and depression.

According to dating coach James Preece, the occurrence of on and off relationships are as a result of one party being less committed than the other.

Hence, the individual that is more serious and committed to the relationship ends up tolerating their partner’s behavior and volatility so that he or she doesn’t end up losing their significant other.

Additionally, Preece notes that the cycle of breaking up and getting back together could be fueled by instances of infidelity or constant arguments. However, both sides stick together because they are still attracted to one another.

Changing the dating landscape

One of the major issues that are strongly associated with this kind of pattern is that one of the partners does not get reassurance that the relationship is going to work

Additionally, it further cultivates and exacerbates any insecurities that either of the partners has regarding their significant other.

Not only does one begin to question themselves regarding their significance in the relationship, but also makes the individual wonder why they are being mistreated by their partner.

This in turn, fosters negative emotions such as jealously, causing anxiety and worst, might even result in depression.

Not only do these relationships result in stress, but also cause both individuals to be emotionally drained

Preece advises that if you are in such a predicament, you have a right to question the dynamics of the relationship. He insists that one’s mental and physical health is more important than sticking with someone who causes you unhappiness.

A Stressful cycle

Indeed, on and off relationships can also be a strong indicator that the two partners are incompatible. Rather, their passion is more on an intimate level, hence the reason why partners keep coming back for more. This results in a push-pull dynamic that is quite common in physically and emotionally abusive relationships.

Hence, when thinking of rekindling a relationship that had not worked out well the first time, it is important that you first analyze the dynamics that led to a breakup in the first place.

As a matter of fact, professor Kale Monk from the University of Missouri instructs that individuals who are thinking of getting back with their ex-partner should first have a clear conversation with them regarding what went wrong in the first place.

Moreover, they should address the possibility as to whether these situations could happen the second time around. Honestly, it would not be wise to have a reincarnation of a toxic relationship, would it? No matter how much passion and attraction you still feel for your ex-partner!

Being rational about the relationship

For people who are in a constant loop of breaking up and getting back together, it is vital that they analyze their relationship from a rational perspective instead of a romantic one. Though the thought of getting back together might be tempting, does it always end up in frustration?

If this is the case, then you might need to slow down on getting back together. Perhaps a couple of sessions of couple’s therapy might do the trick?

That being said, here are some other factors that the two of you will need to address before the reunion can take place.

  • Both of you will have to put more effort into making the relationship work
  • The past has to be scraped away and both of you should agree on a new chapter in your lives.
  • The two of you will have to improve the communication process
  • There should be a balance in the power dynamics of the relationship, such that each individual sees the other as an equal.

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