Why On-and-Off Relationships Are Torture

December 21, 2018
In many cases of dependent relationships, the people involved force a new beginning, trying to start from a clean slate. The problem is that everything they've lived through previously becomes a burden

These types of relationships come about when a couple is very united, have been together for a long time or when one of the partners (or both of them) has an emotional dependence.

Read: Zero Contact: the cure for emotional dependence

All of these cases make the pair unable to give up their relationship. It also pushes them to try to give it another chance. The problem with all of this is that the relationship ends up being a real nightmare.

The torture of reoccurring emotional hurt

Throughout our lives, we have to face many kinds of hurt. Pain from losing a loved one, breaking up with a partner, ending a work contract…

Hurting is a difficult process that can lead to depression when we don’t handle it well. People who’ve been in on-and-off relationships are very used to hurting, but they never reach the last stage of the process.

Let’s take a look at the stages of hurting and how the people involved in these relationships might act in each one of them:

  • Denial: The person denies that their relationship didn’t work. He or she doesn’t want to see the reality and even tries to act as if nothing happened. When the denial caves in on itself, the person enters into the next stage.
  • Anger: In this stage, the couple blames each for the relationship, for the problems and for why it failed. It’s a phase where the couple can only remember the negative things and can only see each other in anger.
  • Sadness: Here, after losing control of the very powerful emotion, anger, another one emerges. An deep, paralyzing sadness that reminds the couple of the good times and gives them nostalgia of why they stayed together.
  • Negotiation: The couple tries to get back together and, in the cases of on-and-off relationships, they eventually do. Sadness reminds them how worth it everything was, which pushes them to give it another chance. They refuse to give up their relationship.

Discover: Why Do So Many Relationships End?

The last stage is acceptance. Accepting that a relationship didn’t work, accepting that with each new chance at the relationship comes a new failure.

However, people involved in on-and-off relationships don’t want to accept that their relationship has an end.

This is why couples eventually agree to give the relationship another shot in the negotiation stage. They might agree under the premise of “I’m going to change”.

On-and-off relationships and fears

The fact that unstable relationships can’t reach the last stage of hurt, thus letting go of the relationship in order to start a new path, has to do with fears.

People who’ve been with their partner for more than 6 or 8 years have lived through so many experiences together. They’re so cleaved to each other that it seems impossible to not fight for what they have.

Pareja luchando por su relación

Despite the fact that their break-ups (which are sometimes camouflaged as “I need a break”) mean that something isn’t working, they try to hang on to it at any cost.

It’s normal for a couple to have a crisis, but it isn’t normal to break up then get back together again and again. Doing so hurts both members more and more.

Meanwhile, they ignore the real root of the problem.

Read: 4 Reasons Why Your Relationship Is in Constant Crisis

If both partners are co-dependent, the same dilemma occurs. On-and-off relationships manifest the life being impossible without the other, or living without a partner.

Sometimes letting of that person might seem hard and we might think that we can force a new beginning as if we could start again from a clean slate when, in reality, it doesn’t work like that.

What didn’t work won’t work

What causes a relationship to break off then make up multiple times? The reason can give us clues telling us that we don’t know how to face conflict or that we’re running into the same wall over and over again.

If the problem stems from our personalities clashing in some way, if we have different perspectives on life or incompatible goals (one wants to live abroad and the other, stay in their home country) there’s no solution.

The promises of change and attempts to bring the impossible together is fruitless. 

On the other hand, if the problem results from the couple working together or having kids and the stress that comes along with them, then there’s a way to manage the situation correctly.

Looking for professional help or seeking couple’s therapy might help.

Before you go don’t miss out on : Relationship Secrets of Every Happy Couple

On-and-off relationships are torture.

So, we have to see where the problem is. We need to see if we’re taking chances that won’t lead us anywhere or, if, on the opposite side of the spectrum, we have to learn how to better manage a certain area in our life.

  • Castelló, J. (2000). Análisis del concepto dependencia emocional. In I Congreso Virtual de Psiquiatría (Vol. 5, No. 8).
  • Hoyos, M. L., Arredondo, N. H. L., & Echavarría, J. A. Z. (2007). Distorsiones cognitivas en personas con dependencia emocional. Informes psicológicos9(9), 55-69.
  • Pérez, K. (2011). Efectos de la dependencia emocional en la autoestima de mujeres de veinte y cinco a cincuenta y cinco años de edad que tienen una relación de pareja. Recuperado de http://www. dspace. uce. edu. ec/bitstream/25000/472/1/T-UCE-0007-1. pdf.