The Cycle of the On-and-Off Relationship


By Laura Cohen

One day they’re your favorite person. The next, you can’t stand them. On and off relationships are common, but exhausting. Your Facebook friends can’t handle your constantly changing relationship status. Your roommates can’t handle your nonstop bitching. You feel that at any moment you may crack from the stress over the uncertainty of your relationship.

Truth is, if it didn’t work out for round two, round three won’t be any different. People involved in the vicious make up/break up cycle are never happy, no matter how good the make up sex is time after time.

Cosmopolitan Magazine recently reported on a study that shows conflict in a relationship usually remains constant over time. If you argue a lot now, there’s good chance you will still be arguing later. A couple needs good chemistry, and even if you’ve dated for six months, a year, or three years, you may never find it. Your clash of personalities won’t simply disappear over time.

“I was in an on and off relationship, and after a while we just gave up because the fighting never stopped,” said Chris Sarling, a freshman in the Whitman School of Management and the School of Information Studies.

Once a couple breaks up once or twice, the relationship is not the same anymore. You may first feel excitement upon reuniting, but the same problems will quickly resurface. People say, “I’ll change,” but anyone who has been involved in this cycle knows change is just a fantasy.

In addition, it’s not so easy to erase the hurtful things that were said or the revenge enacted after the last breakup. He likely won’t forget when you hacked into his Facebook and changed his info to “interested in men,” and she definitely won’t get over that girl you brought back from the bar last Tuesday. Issues from the last break up will likely get brought back into the next phase of the relationship, and squabbling just isn’t sexy.

It’s amazing how quickly people forgive their exes after being so furious at them just days earlier. It’s hard to keep your dignity intact when you spend weeks on end talking shit about your guy for dumping you in a text, cheating on you, etc., and then you run back into his arms soon after. Honestly, it’s pathetic, but I’m not blaming you. We’ve all fallen victim to the draw of comfort and familiarity in our exes. I understand, and I want to help you.

First, realize you’re stuck in a rut, restricting yourself from actual happiness with a potential new person. It’s time to respect yourself and acknowledge you deserve better. “When it gets to the point you are more upset than you are happy, you should reevaluate the relationship and probably end it,” said Nicole Battafarano, a sophomore magazine journalism major. “It’s not good for you overall.”

The best way to get out of the on and off relationship cycle is to make a clean break. Realize you cannot revert to being “friends” immediately; you need some time apart. Cut off communication, quit your Facebook stalking, and please, resist the booty call from him or her in the weeks following the breakup. After some time, you can hopefully see this person as just a friend, not your immediate back-up plan.

It may be tough, but remember that there is a reason they are your ex, after all. It is up to you to step off this emotional roller coaster and start spending your precious time and energy on better things and better people. Like Jay-Z says, “On to the next one.”