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How to make an on-again-off-again relationship work

on-again-off-again relationship

It always surprises me how accustomed we have become to unhealthy dating patterns.

From situationships that never end to side chicks that are proud and on-again-off-again relationships that cost us most of our baby-making years.

How do I know?

Well, because I entertained an on-again-off-again relationship for 3.5 years myself. Not my proudest moment.

However, it taught me a lot about myself, about men, and most importantly about relationships. Which is what I share on this blog.

So I’m excited to share with you what I learned from trying and failing and how an on-again-off-again relationship can work.

on again off again relationship

How to make an on-again-off-again relationship work

1. Detox from the relationship 

Just like with any other breakup, you must go no-contact after the split.

Especially in an on-and-off relationship, a detox period will help lessen your attachment and dependence on each other.

You create space to reflect on the relationship and the major issues you had in it. 

2. Work on yourself

This step is the most important. And that is that you have to work on yourself while you are going your separate ways. Because the best way to ensure that your future romantic relationships work is by becoming a better partner. 

So, you want to take the necessary steps to level up by improving yourself.

If you struggled with your communication skills before, then take some time to get better. If you tend to be a needy girlfriend, then seek coaching or therapy. If you have low self-esteem, learn to love yourself again.

Do whatever it takes to get ahead in your healing journey. 

3. Don’t repeat the same mistakes 

Okay, I know this is easier said than done, but I can explain.

Relationship cycling happens every time you get together and break up for the same reasons. In my experience, we got back together because we love each other, but we broke up again because we were not on the same page regarding the level of commitment required. 

 And you may be wondering how you overlook such an important point.

Well, by not having the right checkpoints in place. In order to experience an on-again-off-again relationship success, you need to set clear standards, boundaries, and expectations

Instead of ignoring red flags, call them out and make a plan for how to deal with them. 

That way you can avoid the same behavior from popping up and increase your chances of making it past the challenges. 

on again off again relationship cycle

Can on-again-off-again relationships work?

The short answer is “yes!”. 

Some couples, like Carrie Bradshaw and Mr. Big, need a few attempts and years to get things right but eventually succeed.

Maybe you and your Ex are the same way.

Maybe you are at different stages in your life when a relationship is just not feasible. The typical “right guy a the wrong time” dilemma. 

But, before you run with this information and give your on-again-off-again boyfriend his 343rd chance to prove that he is not the right guy for you, read on.

While on-again-off-again relationships are incredibly common with about 30 to 60 percent of young adults experiencing them, they are also very dangerous for your mental health

The downside of on-again off-again relationships 

If you’ve ever experienced the emotional rollercoaster of a break-up to make-up cycle, then you know it’s not fun.

Thanks to greater uncertainty in the relationship you constantly feel distressed and anxious. Even though you are extremely excited when you get back together after some time apart.

Once the honeymoon phase is over you fall back into old patterns, which trigger relationship issues that have never been dealt with.

In addition to the psychological distress, most couples that get stuck in an on-again-off-again relationship cycle waste years desperately trying to make an intimate relationship work. 

I mean in my case it was 3.5 years, Justin Bieber and Selena Gomez were in an on-and-off relationship for 7. And Carrie and Big for 10 years, just for him to ditch her on their wedding day. 

And I’m not going to lie, but after my breakup last year, my sister said something that truly confirmed to me that I had made the right decision. She said, “at this point, you have to be worried that he will leave you at the altar.”

I immediately broke down when she said it because I knew she was right.

So, those are the two negatives of on-again-off-again relationships.

However, we all know couples that went on to have successful relationships after a breakup. What did they do? 

Why do on-and-off again relationships happen

Why do on-and-off again relationships happen?

On-and-off again relationships happen because two people break up when they still have deep feelings for each other.

Instead of having a clean break and moving on from each other, they stay in touch. A lot of times they even remain close friends.

That’s when many ex-couples fall into a cyclical pattern where they break up and get back together.

The downside of on-again off-again relationships 

How do I stop an on-again-off-again relationship?

The first thing you have to do to stop an on-again-off-again relationship is to avoid all contact with your former partner. And yes, I know it sounds harsh, but it’s the only way.

Staying in touch with your ex when you are trying to let go of him is never a good idea. Especially not if you have a tendency of rekindling the relationship in the first place.

Secondly, you want to seek help from your support system or an accountability partner. Someone like your sister or best friend that you can contact and be honest with whenever you miss him. Ideally, she will be able to remind you of the reason why you broke up in a constructive way.

I find that the first 3 weeks after a break-up are the critical timeframe in which cyclical partners need to stay away from each other to avoid falling into old patterns.

How to make an on-again-off-again relationship work

How do you get over an on-again-off-again relationship?

Getting over an on-again-off-again relationship is the same as getting over a regular breakup. You have to grieve the relationship and accept that things didn’t work out for a reason.

One thing that I do whenever things don’t work out is making a list of my dream type of relationship. In that list, I remind myself of everything I actually want in love and marriage and what a healthy relationship should feel like to me.

That always gives me hope, because I know I have not yet had that. And it helps you manifest your dream love.

On-again-off-again relationships

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