On Again Off Again Relationships: How to Stop Recycling Your Exes


Breaking up and making up several times over extended periods of time can be annoying. That cycle of anger, break, coming to terms, and making up in itself can become a familiar cadence that you sort of get used to, but either way it's frustrating. Breaking up doesn't serve the purpose you expected–you do not feel free from the confines of the relationship. But being in the relationship certainly does not provide you with what you need to feel supported and emotionally secure. Going on-and-off can simply mean you are in a rut with your partner, and can look for better means of communicating and relating. But it can also indicate your dependence on being in a relationship. And of course, it could indicate indecisiveness. I could list all of the different reasons why people fall into the on-again-off-again pattern and what it could possibly mean, but at the end of the day, only you and your partner can figure out what you want from each other and your relationship.

Because human emotional interplay and communication is you know, among the more complicated things in the universe, it feels useless to be told just make up your mind about a relationship. The whole pain of breaking up only to get back together hinges on indecisive action, so don't be too hard on yourself if you just can't figure it out. The silly part about being human is the expectation that we ought to know what we want… in our careers, in our health, and in our relationships. We may set out expectations for ourselves. We may have a vision or feeling of what will make us happy in the long run, but when has life ever worked out the way we wanted? (I mean, if it does, then I look forward to opening my front door to Clive Owen holding a stack of Astro City comics and some Chex Mix. Hey, I never said I didn't know what I wanted.) Most of all, part of the delay in making a final decision is the fear of making the wrong choice.

However, if a relationship no longer provides you with the support you need, if after breaking up with your partner, you get back together mainly because a good portion of their belongings are still at your place, or you'd much rather be with someone who doesn't make you feel great than be alone, or because your partner is the one who knows the Netflix password, be strong and rethink. The foundation of a healthy and wholesome relationship is not convenience. It's not boredom, or lack of something better. At some point, you or your partner will have to take a stand. Is being together worth the feelings you're going through? And keep in mind that breaking up is not the only decisive course of action. If you choose to get back together for real again, what can you actively do to improve your relationship, to create something you truly draw comfort from?

We all know that relationships require commitment, but you must also be committed to your decisions. Taking a break to gather some space can be very healthy for a relationship, but breaking a relationship off just to resume the unhealthy relationship as it was is a waste of time. People survive loneliness. And people survive each other. So whether you choose to stay or go, reflect on what your needs are and whether or not your relationship is or can accomplish that. You will make the right decision, but it just might take a while.