–We have all personally been or have had a friend who was constantly in and out of a relationship with the same person. These are the types of relationships where no matter how much complaining, bickering, or disputing takes place between us and our partner, we are always breaking things off and calling them back on within a short time period. However, regardless of how great things may seem once you and your significant other are back together, cycling these relationships is most likely causing more harm than good.
It seems like the plot of a romantic comedy: Boy and Girl date, Boy and Girl break up over differences, but somehow they keep ending up back together. Repeat until the end credits. The theme is, of course, that love prevails over clashes in personality and relationship transgressions. But “happily ever after” doesn’t always come in real life. In fact, what the plot of this romantic comedy is highlighting is called relationship cycling. And it can be bad for you!
What is Relationship Cycling?
Unconditional love and devotion can be a swell thing—something worth fighting for, actually. However, sometimes we can become so emotionally attached and dependent upon a person that we overlook how negatively the relationship is affecting us. According to the Journal of Social Psychological and Personality Science, 50% of couples get back together after breaking up. And of those that get back together, 66% said they wished to stay with their partner due to the intimacy and dependence they had developed with them.
Did you notice the word “dependence” in the previous sentence? When it comes to healthy relationships, it’s an ugly, ugly word.
Of course, some relationships are worth rekindling. In fact, some individuals swear by it, claiming that taking a break and getting back together allows both parties time to process emotions relating to the events that led to the break-up. And this can sometimes be true, as it can allow us to re-enter the relationship with a fresh mindset. But some couples will be on-again/off-again anywhere from four to 10 times or more. Individuals in relationships like these become so dependent on their significant others that they often overlook the way they are being treated—or how they are treating their partner.
The Effects of Relationship Cycling
A recent study conducted at Kansas State University found that individuals who rekindle their relationships often extinguish their happiness as a result. Couples in cyclical relationships were found to be less satisfied with their partner, had lower self-esteem, worried constantly about their future together, and experienced poor communication.
In addition, cyclical couples were more likely to commit rash decisions, such as moving in with each other or having a child together without much thought or prior consideration. The study also found that couples who were cyclical before marriage were more uncertain about getting married and began their marriage with more conflict and less satisfaction than married couples with no cyclical habits.
To make matters worse, constant fighting can lead to trust issues, lower perceived self-worth, and a lack of control over emotions.
Breaking the Cycle
When you’ve been with someone for so long, the dependence you develop for one another can be so strong that it makes breaking things off for good extremely difficult. The best thing you and your partner can do is establish a strong line of communication. In fact, many relationships cycle because of ambiguity between the individuals involved.
Consider how you feel when you see your partner. You should always be pleased to see them, or at least relaxed, secure and at ease. If you feel uncomfortable while in the presence of your significant other, try to uncover where those feelings are coming from. It is always best to fix the root of the problem before it spirals into a never-ending cycle of hostility. And always remember: you are your most important person, so put your own feelings and happiness first.
There is no such thing as a perfect relationship. No couple will see eye to eye all the time. But if you’re bending over backward to make your relationship work, perhaps you need to ask yourself if you are with the right person.
If you do find yourself in a cycling relationship, consider what makes you love the relationship and what you can’t stand. Remember, you get to choose how others treat you, so make sure you are with someone who truly makes you happy.