On-Again, Off-Again Relationships Might be Toxic For Your Mental Health, According To Science
Unfortunately for many of us, breaking up with our exes isn't always enough to cut them out of our lives forever. Many of us like to sign ourselves up for the never-ending rollercoaster ride that is the on-again, off-again relationship. But despite how tempting it may seem to come crawling back to our exes from time to time, a new study suggests on-again, off-again relationship might be toxic for your mental health.
If you're involved in one of these relationships, hopefully your friends, or your mom, or maybe even that Uber driver that you opened up to a little too deeply on Friday night, might have taken the time to tell you that this relationship probably isn't the best thing for you. But now, a new study proves it. There's actual scientific evidence backing up the fact that the whole will you/won't you dynamic you and your ex have going is unhealthy.
In their study of over 500 people in relationships, Kale Monk, assistant professor of human development and family science and her co-authors at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Brian Ogolsky and Ramona Oswald, found that breaking up and getting back together more frequently made people in both same-sex and heterosexual relationships more depressed and anxious.
And it's unhealthy behavior most of us have taken part of at one point or another. According to Science Daily, research has shown over 60 percent of adults have been in on again/off again relationships. Yes, these relationships look adorable when they're Nick and Jess on New Girl or Ross and Rachel on Friends, but they can actually be pretty freaking damaging. The study finds that, when compared to other more stable relationships, on again/off again situations were associated with higher instances of abuse, weaker communication skills and lower commitment levels. Oof.
Now, of course, this isn't to say that every on again/off again relationship is totally and completely doomed. "Breaking up and getting back together is not always a bad omen for a couple," Monk told Science Daily. "In fact, for some couples, breaking up can help partners realize the importance of their relationship, contributing to a healthier, more committed unions. On the other hand, partners who are routinely breaking up and getting back together could be negatively impacted by the pattern."
If you do plan on getting back together with your ex, Monk suggests executing this reunion in a more healthy way. That means putting a little more thought into it and trying to really figure out what went wrong the last time. "The findings suggest that people who find themselves regularly breaking up and getting back together with their partners need to 'look under the hood' of their relationships to determine what's going on," she told Science Daily. "If partners are honest about the pattern, they can take the necessary steps to maintain their relationships or safely end them. This is vital for preserving their well-being."
Keep in mind why you keep getting back together. In their findings, the researchers discovered that people often went back to their exes because it was practical or because they felt obligated to be with them after having spent so much time together. Let me be very clear here. The only reason you should be in your relationship is because you like being with that person. Heck, you even love it! No matter what you decide to do, remember to cater to your own mental and physical health — because the most important relationship you're in, is with yourself.
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