Are you caught up in on and off relationships where you separate and reconcile repeatedly with the same person? Some relationships grow stronger after a breakup and may result in more fulfillment. The threat to your mental well-being grows when you develop a cycle of breaking up and reconciling, being on and off, being together and being ex-partners. Today there’s love, tomorrow there is hate. At some point, you are swearing never to go back, but eventually, you return. It gradually becomes a tradition for your relationship. When your social circle learns that you guys have broken up, they are not shocked because they know you will be back together anyway.
Why do some pairs get trapped in a cycle of toxic on-again and off-again relationships? Does it have an impact on their mental health?
Reasons for on-off relationships
These are some of the probable reasons that people give their relationship another chance after a breakup. The same reasons might make an individual get stuck in on-off relationships.
Having strong feelings for your partner is not easy to simply put off. Feelings for your former partner still exist despite whatever reason you had for breaking off the relationship. You might get into another relationship and realize that the grass isn’t greener elsewhere and their partner was not that horrible after all. Or you may both be unable to cope with the loneliness that comes after because of lingering feelings. When both of you or one of you is afraid to feel and deal with the grief after the breakup and fails to mourn the end of the relationship, you might find yourself in that on-off cycle.
Some returning to the ex because of what other people would think. That is, because of being influenced by friends, family, finances or some other reason which has nothing to do with personal preferences. It is the same way people stick in toxic, abusive and unhappy marriages believing that they’d rather be seen as having someone. They feel like they are obligated to endure the distress as long as they have a partner. Feeling like you have nowhere else to go.
Poor communication and problem-solving
Some get in a cycle of making up and breaking up because they do not know how else to resolve conflicts in their relationship. Breaking up seems like the only viable solution so that they can give each other some space. Self-limiting beliefs e.g you think you’d die without your partner. That is just a form of exaggeration in film and literature not applicable in real life.
Maybe the pair believes that the partner has changed or whatever circumstances led to the breakup has been resolved. They rekindle the flames only to be faced with other similar situations where they make mistakes then seek forgiveness again. And the cycle continues.
Manipulation and feeling guilty
Or perhaps one of the partners is manipulative and coercing the other into the relationship. For example by being an unyielding partner who threatens to do something outrageous after a breakup and keeping one partner feeling obligated to reconcile.
How beneficial are on-off relationships to your mental health?
Sometimes the reasons are logical and some people eventually quit the nonsense and learn to maintain their relationship. However, when breaking-up and making-up becomes a pattern for a couple, it can have a significant negative impact on their mental health. The experience of both breaking up and making up is bound to be dramatic, maybe ending up in the so-called make-up kiss/sex.
Repeating this cycle of breaking up with one person and making up with the same person over and over again affects your emotions a great deal. Consequently, on-off relationships lead to emotional problems and become a risk factor for mental health issues to the affected individuals.
How can habitual on-again-off-again relationships threaten your mental health? Frequent on-off relationships trigger anxiety and depression.
The Risk of Depression
Every time you break up it is painful. The individual experience might vary from couple to couple. For sure breaking up is a stressful situation for one or both of the partners. One breakup is upsetting enough. Thus, being with the same person and repeating the breakup-makeup cycle means experiencing disappointment again and again. This experience of extreme highs and extreme lows over and over again, with the same person, can affect your normal functioning and mood.
The Risk of Anxiety
How happy would you be in the relationship when you are constantly uncertain about it? You live in fear of breaking up again, even though you try to console yourself that they will always be back. You may feel like your partner is just using you and lose your self-esteem and rely on your partner for acceptance. On-off relationships can cause frequent panic and unstable emotions. You may cling to your partner, try to control then and act desperate, therefore, adding to the tension of the relationship.
What to consider before turning on a relationship with your ex
Can couples reunite after a breakup with positive results? Yes. it is possible to have a great relationship after getting back together. Couples who have learned from their past failure and are both united at working to make the relationship work are likely to be successful. However, when you break up more than once, make a careful and informed decision. The challenge is in the repetitive on-off cycle. Consider these:
- What is your real motive for restarting that relationship again?
- Have you completely forgiven them?
- Do you still trust them?
- Have you dealt with the original cause of your breakup?
- Are you ready to let go of the past or do you keep referring to your partner’s mistakes?
Apart from a negative impact to your mental health other pervasive consequences to the relationship itself include poor quality of the relationship, lack of complete trust, poor communication, low satisfaction, and low levels of commitment. Once you choose to commit to your partner commit to them in full. Your mental health (and your life) could be at risk for failing to be assertive about your relationship. End your relationship or maintain your relationship by finding ways to deal with your conflicts effectively. You may seek the help of professional couples/marriage counselor.
Life is for living. Keep living. Don’t give up.