The allure of on-again, off-again relationships

While many couples aim to make a clean break, and succeed to a large extent, there are others who are caught in an unhealthy cycle of on-again off-again relationships struggling to start afresh but failing at it despite several attempts. And while some may perceive this as an addiction or a weakness on their part, there’s more to it. The factors vary from the fear of being alone, to acting on impulse to simply clinging on to an idea of ‘the relationship’ because it’s familiar despite being toxic.
Why young couples are pressing the reset button on a failed relationship
Mental health experts believe that nowadays, young adults are extremely restless and have a high risk taking tendency that drives them. As a result, they are constantly questioning and comparing their relationship as they are not confident about their emotions. Hence, this type is more likely to break-off on impulse. Psychiatrist Dr Hemant Mittal, goes on to explain that, “When people break-up or patch up on impulse, they often do not think things through. Problems that were deal breakers and led to the demise of the relationship in the first place continue causing more friction, eventually driving the couple apart. However, there is also a sense of familiarity that one or both partners finds comfort in. And despite the toxicity in the relationship, this illusion of security leads to a cyclic pattern of on-again, off-again relationships.”

FOMO’s role in this cycling history

And it’s not just this false sense of security that keeps bringing these couples together, it’s also unresolved feelings because of an impulsive break-up and FOMO (the fear of missing out on certain aspects of each other’s lives) that also has a role to play here. Clinical psychologist Seema Hingoranny shares. “FOMO or the fear of missing out is another reason why some couples are looped in a cycling history of on-again, off-again relationships. They oscillate between wanting out, but also giving into curiosity, and wanting to be a part of the other’s lives. The fact is break-ups in general are not bad as they give you time to revisit what went wrong and learn from it. However, if a couple has a history of break-ups and reunions, that’s clearly an indication that something is not right.” Hence, if you are one of those caught in this loop and want to break the wheel, you have to question whether you are being impulsive or dependent. It’s clearly one or both that’s driving your behaviour.

Give yourself a cooling period of one month

While many people have a tendency to pin a rebound on unresolved feelings, if it follows a pattern of constant break-ups and patch ups, it’s time to probe on a deeper level. Dr Sagar Mundada, a psychiatrist, recommends you approach a relationship expert to help you get to the bottom of things. He says, “If a person is impulsive or restless by nature, he or she is likely to easily get bored, and suddenly break off or patch up on impulse. A dependent personality, on the other hand, needs someone around and is more likely to go back clinging on to a relationship no matter how toxic simply because of the false sense of security of being with someone. Hence, it’s important to figure your personality type and to give yourself a one month window before breaking up or making up. This timeframe gives individuals a chance to examine their relationship and to not let instincts but logic drive their decisions.”

Ultimately, it’s about acknowledging that on-again off-again relationships are low quality relationships. Passion, thrill and attraction are one aspect of the relationship, however, if it has to sustain over a period of time, you need stability as well, and this constant state of uncertainty has clearly no connection with love or passion and can only be labelled as toxic addiction.