Here’s What Has To Happen To Make Your On-Again, Off-Again Relationship Work


Today, we’re going to be talking about on-again, off-again relationships— what’s going on in them and whether or not these kind of relationships can actually turn into a long-term, committed relationship or if you’re stuck yo-yo-ing back and forth between being together and not being together, ad infinitum.

To get started, an on-again, off-again relationship is a relationship where the people get together, break up and then get back together again—on and on— possibly even indefinitely.

This can be frustrating because the two of you come together and it’s obvious attraction that lasts because the two of you keep coming together multiple times, right?

So there’s definitely potential there.

As you know, we don’t date people based off of potential, we date based off where they actually are in their life.

Potential in and of itself is not necessarily enough to make a relationship work.

And what’s more concerning is the fact that the two of you are getting together multiple times and then breaking up.

The breaking up part of the relationship is concerning for a couple of different reasons.

First of all, it signifies that something is not working in the relationship. And… more importantly, this ‘something’ is not getting itself fixed.

As you’re coming together and then you’re breaking up for a reason.

Then, you’re coming back together then you’re breaking up again  probably for the same reason.

You’re establishing a pattern of echo breakups.

That means that each time the break up happens, you’re kind of cementing this dynamic into place that’s saying:

“We always argue all the time.”

“I can’t trust you.”

“You always lie.”

Or whatever else it might be, right?

The stronger that pattern gets cemented into place, the less likely the next getting back together is going to be.

So this on-again, off-again relationship pattern can be very dangerous.

The second reason that the breakup thing is actually concerning is because you’re building a habit of leaving the relationship when things get hard.

As we know, our habits are what really ultimately determine our destiny in life and, of course, in relationships as a byproduct of that.

The more we cement or habits into place, it determines the direction we’re going to go in life, right?

If you look into studies on the divorce rate, you’ll notice that more or less, 50 percent of marriages in the United States end in divorce.

If you look at the people that end up divorcing their partner, something like 60 or 70 percent of them go on to have a second divorce, right?

Why is that?

It’s because they have developed the habit of when a relationship or marriage gets tough, they’re going to break up or divorce.

Because they’ve been through the breakup before.

So when things get tough, they’re not going to try and make it work.

They’re just going to say to themselves, “Hey, I’m going to do what I did before, it turned out all right. Let’s go ahead and get a divorce. Let’s go ahead and break up.”

The longer you’re in on-again, off-again relationship dynamic, the more you’re cementing into place the idea that when things get tough, we break up.

When things get tough, the ON becomes an OFF.

Decades-long marriages or even long partnerships without marriage are going to have conflict and challenges. It just comes with the territory.

And if you want to stay together, you’re going to have to learn how to get through those challenges and conflicts together as a team, as a unit.

You’re going to have to learn to cooperate. And that means that you’re probably not going to be walking away from the relationship. You’re probably not going to be walking away from the marriage.

The problem with on-again, off-again relationships is that you’re building that habit of walking away when things get hard, which means that it’s very difficult to break that habit and create a relationship that’s going to work into the long run.

This isn’t to say that on-again, off-again relationships will never work out because they CAN work out if something changes.

If the two of you come back together and find that you’re not walking into the same dynamic that you had before.

If one or possibly even both people in the relationship have had some sort of change in their perspective on life, on love, on each other, on what they want, on anything really.

If they’ve had some sort of major change in their perspective on things, then that can actually change the dynamic and bring them together long term.

If you suddenly realize, “Hey, I’ve been immature and I’ve been dating the wrong people. I really want to settle down. I need to grow up. I need to stop being so selfish and thinking only of myself. And I need to actually think about other people and how we work together as a relationship unit and all that.”

Then sure, maybe an on-again, off-again relationship can work out.

Barring that kind of change, you’re just walking right back into the same dynamic.

And, if you’re walking back into that dynamic that didn’t work before, when we already have a history, of, “When the going gets tough, I’m out of here.”

Then, the on-again, off-again dynamic will most likely continue.

I hope this helps you understand on-again, off-again relationships a little bit more.

With that being said, let’s go ahead and get over to our questions and answers from my Modern Love Association members this week.

Continue to part 2 of this episode here.

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Clay Andrews

About Clay Andrews

Clay Andrews and Mika Terao bring their client’s relationships back from the brink.

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