If you've ever been in an on-again, off-again relationship, you know the all-too-familiar uneasiness that can sometimes come with constantly breaking up and reuniting. When you're in a relationship that feels like it could end at any moment, it's only natural that you'd feel anxious. Because you care deeply for your partner, the relationship can feel great when it's good. But when it continuously crumbles, how can you ever feel comfortable? I spoke to several relationship experts on why on-again, off-again relationships are so stressful, and their answers make it clear that it's totally normal to feel this way.
To understand what makes these relationships so stressful, it's important to have a firm grasp on what they even are. "An on-again, off-again relationship is one where there is a pattern of breaking up and getting back together over and over," intimacy and sexuality coach Irene Fehr tells Elite Daily. But why do couples break up and then get back together so quickly? "Typically, this pattern happens when one or both partners are not aligned in what they want in the relationship," Fehr explains. "They do not know how to address issues in the relationship. It also happens when whatever prompted one breakup never got healed or resolved through getting back together, once again prompting the next round of breaking up."
In short, it's a rollercoaster, and it jolts the people in it around and around, causing serious stress.
It's no secret that on-again off-again relationships aren't exactly ideal, but why are they so stressful? "These rounds of on-again, off-again, yo-yo relationships are destabilizing and create a sense of uncertainty and often confusion as to what is happening, all of which typically lead to lack of trust in your own decision to stay or go and also in your partner's," Fehr explains. "It's difficult to truly trust someone and relax into the relationship when you do not know if they — or you — will be around."
If you're in a relationship where you never feel like you and your partner have resolved your issues, then it's no wonder you also feel an immense sense of stress and worry. On top of the uncertainty, "They’re not healthy because you often keep coming back out of loneliness, fear of not meeting anyone else, and just being too dependent on the other person," Trina Leckie, breakup BOOST podcast host, tells Elite Daily. "Plus, you’re often on edge, waiting for the next shoe to drop. You lose faith in each other and in the relationship."
On-again, off-again relationships can be really hard, but if you currently find yourself in one, there is a way to combat the stress. "To be able to see this clearly, it's helpful to take a break from the relationship, especially if it involves sex, and to evaluate this," Fehr says. "It's helpful to work with a therapist or relationship coach who can give you an outside perspective on what's happening — which is often hard to see when enmeshed in these cycles."
You should be in a happy and healthy relationship. Unfortunately, that might mean putting an end to an on-again, off-again relationship, for good. It's not easy, but as the experts say, if your relationship is causing you this much stress, you need — and deserve — to take a step back.