Truths About That On Again/Off Again Relationship
I’m almost always down to give some relationship advice. But, there is one exception: the moment someone says they’re in an “on again/off again” thing with somebody, I just want to escape the conversation. The very fact that someone is engaging in an on again/off again thing tells me they aren’t working with a clear mind. They have a lot of personal work that they need to do, and it’s a therapist they need—not just a friend. Being in an on again/off again thing is a form of abusing oneself. That can be difficult to hear, but it is true. When one learns to truly love herself and only chase things that make her feel elevated and happy, she doesn’t return to something that made her feel, well, none of those things. Even if there were glimpses of good things in the relationship, if, in the end, it didn’t work, someone who is emotionally stable doesn’t think, “Hmm. But maybe I’ll just touch the hot stove again. Maybe it will feel good this time!” Here are truths you need to hear if you’re in an on again/off again thing.
Everyone but you two knows it won’t work
Seriously though, every single person in your life—from your close friends to those coworkers who are only roughly familiar with the situation—knows that this will never work out. Maybe you get one chance to get back with someone. In fact, many people break up once with the person they wind up spending their lives with. But that’s it. Once it goes on again/off again more than once, nobody takes the relationship seriously.
And, they’re tired of hearing about it
People are tired of consulting you on this thing, too. They feel like they’re imparting valuable knowledge on someone who just won’t learn. When your friends give you solid advice that you agree with but then don’t take, they feel disrespected. And they can just only dedicate so much time to discussing this dead end thing with you.
If it must be off, it’s probably not right
It’s time to understand that if you have to break up with someone—if things get so bad, so beyond repair, so beyond communicating about in a functional manner—it’s because that person is wrong for you. There are so many other people out there. Why not just try to meet a person with whom you don’t fight all of the time?
Really: other couples are on for decades
If you want to argue that breaking up doesn’t mean someone’s wrong for you, then why are there couples who remain together for decades and lifetimes without breaking up? There is proof that that type of relationship exists. So, there’s really no excuse not to try and find one.
You encourage bad patterns by getting back together
Each time you get back with this person, what you are saying to him—at least on a subconscious level—is that the way he behaved before was fine. What you are saying is that the dynamic that existed before is acceptable. You may say with your words, “Things will be different” but they won’t be because you’re still you and he is still himself.
Everyone just thinks the other person will change
You should also know that, deep down, you’re both just thinking the other person will change. Neither person ever really thinks they’re the one who needs to make massive changes. They just agree when their partner says they should, to get what they want.
You might just be addicted to the drama
It’s very possible that you’re addicted to drama. Drama is a wonderful distraction from our real goals. So long as you’re trying to patch together this relationship that is hanging on by a thread, you have an excuse not to…go back to school or…apply for jobs or…start that business.
Or refusing to admit failure
You may also just not want to admit failure. You feel like, “But I’ve already put so much into this.” Here’s the thing: you’ve put nothing into it. If it’s ended several times, it’s because your “efforts” went in one ear and out the other, so to speak. You’ve been putting a lot of energy and emotion into something, but it hasn’t been going into this. It’s been going into the garbage, unfortunately. Isn’t it time to stop wasting energy?
Every off-period shatters chances of a future
Every time you take another break, you make the chances of a future even worse. You add more baggage. There’s more resentment over another breakup and perhaps the things you do while you’re apart (like sleep with other people). I’m not saying you should stay together when you’re miserable. I’m saying you’re damned if you do and damned if you don’t because this person is wrong for you.
Real personal work takes time
Even if you truly want to do personal work in order to be a better partner, or this guy says he wants to, real personal work takes years. I’m serious. If you have issues that run so deep that they interfere with your ability to have a functional relationship, those will take a long time to deal with. You can’t fix those in the one month or three weeks you take apart here and there.
Real personal work can’t be done for somebody else
The other issue here is that real personal work simply cannot happen under the watchful eye of an impatient ex. You need to work on your issues for yourself, without giving yourself any deadline. It just won’t work if you feel like, “I have to fix my emotional problems in two months so I can get back with my man.”
You’re talking the whole time, so it’s barely off
Oh, and you know you’re talking to this person the whole time it’s “off” so it’s not even off. You’re texting and calling and meeting for a “platonic” meal. You are not actually dislodging this person from your psyche and grieving the permanent loss of him, which is what you have to do to clear your mind enough to do your personal work.
It’s a bit immature
Honestly, there comes a time when you have to ask yourself: what am I doing? You know who has on again/off again things? Characters in teen shows on the CW or deeply dysfunctional people on reality shows. Do you want to be like them?
It shows weakness of character
Having conviction is one of the most important things you can have. If you keep going back to this same person, it shows a lack of conviction. You have no follow through. You don’t do the things you say you will do (aka stay away from this person). When that happens, people around you can see you as generally having a weak character.
The longer it lasts, the harder it is to leave
The longer this goes on, the harder it will be to let go. You may think, “I just really want to see it out to the end” or “If it isn’t meant to be, it’ll become obvious and easy to walk away.” That’s not true. You’ve become attached now. There are codependency issues going on. Even if you feel in many ways that you hate this person, you’re addicted to this dynamic, and having more of it makes it harder to leave.