If you've ever been in an on-again, off-again relationship, you know that it's no walk in the park. In fact, it can often feel like a rollercoaster of feelings, heartbreak, love and uncertainty all at once. But, is it even worth it? While these types of relationships work out for some people (read: Miley and Liam), on-again, off-again relationship success is, unfortunately, relatively low, according to experts.
"Only about a third of on-again, off-again relationships end up going the distance," dating coach and relationship expert James Preece tells Elite Daily. "Success depends on the reasons why you split up in the first place. If it was something simple — such as bad timing or logistics — there's a good chance this could last, if the problem is sorted. However, more serious issues, such as infidelity, boredom, or trust are much more difficult to fix. People rarely change, even when they love each other."
You may achingly long for your on-again, off-again partner to change the things about them that you feel are holding your relationship back. But if they don't want to, then there may not be anything you can do about it. And that can be incredibly difficult to accept because love should conquer all, right? Sadly, in some situations, it doesn't.
"Relationships need a lot more than love to work," Samantha Burns, dating coach and author of Breaking Up & Bouncing Back, tells Elite Daily. "You need to be able to speak each other’s love languages, share core values, and a vision for the future." She says it's important you and your partner go back and look at the last time you were together and make sure you've successfully repaired any previous conflicts. Try looking at the relationship from a "we" perspective, not a "me" one, and understand that it is a team effort.
How long you and your on-again, off-again partner spend in this unending emotional roller coaster isn't necessarily measured by the time you've invested, but rather, how much effort you both put in. "There needs to be a balance," Burns says. "Otherwise, one partner tries harder to make it work and winds up resentful." You may be hopeful time and time again that your partner will finally get their act together and be there for you the way you need. But they may not always be able to give you what you deserve. "You deserve someone who shows up for you in their behaviors," she continues. Always remember that.
One of the hardest parts of being in an on-again, off-again relationship is that can be really hard to decide when to walk away because you and your partner may still have love for each other. "If you are both willing to fight for each other, then it's definitely worth giving it a go," Preece says. "If you don't, you may end up regretting it and wishing you'd tried harder." But whether or not you should be on-again really comes down to if you and/or your partner still have unresolved feelings about something that happened in your past, or a relationship pattern that feels like it hasn't been solved. If you do, then it may be better to hold off on getting back together until you've been able to work through it. "If there is no anger or resentment, then try again, as there is nothing to lose," he continues.
If you and your ex have been on-again, off-again for years, it may be hard to not feel like you wasted all that time going back and forth with someone for no reason, but experts suggest you try to get rid of that mindset. "On-again, off-again relationships can be karmic relationships," Jennifer B. Rhodes, licensed psychologist, dating expert and founder of Rapport Relationships, tells Elite Daily. "Karmic relationships only last as long as is needed to learn the lessons that need to be learned," she says. "Once this happens, the relationship comes to an end on its own."
If you find yourself in an on-again, off-again relationship when that's the last thing you wanted, "try not to be self-critical," Rhodes advises. Even if your relationship rollercoaster doesn't end up working out in the long run, "there is always learning that takes place, and bravely going through the process is a courageous act," she says. Your on-again, off-again relationship may have put you through the wringer, but it could have led you to exactly where you were meant to be, Rhodes explains. "You never know when one of these relationships will catapult you to actually finding your soulmate."