0118 – What Should You Do About “On Again/Off Again” Relationships?


We are talking all about the relationships you just can’t seem to quit (until you do).

By the end of this episode:

  • you’ll learn the facts about on-again/off-again relationships
  • how to best deal with these relationships
  • the #1 tip to avoid an on-again/off-again situation

Describe the problem

…You’re together. Then you’re not. But then you are again. Your relationship has more cycles than the Tour de France, yet the two of you can’t seem to stay apart…even though all you want to be when you’re together is apart. So how do you break the on-again/off-again cycle? Find out in Episode 118: On-Again, Off-Again Relationships

Segment #1

Facts about on-again, off-again couples

  1. 60% of adults have been in an on-again/off-again relationship
  2. ¾ of of those adults have been through the makeup/breakup cycle more than twice
  3. Those who have experienced more breakups and renewals report less satisfaction, more conflict, more uncertainty about the relationship and less support for the relationship from friends and family. From Body and Soul.com: ““On-off partners also report less behaviours that help maintain the relationship,” Dailey says. This includes making the other partner feel good about themselves and including them in activities with friends and family. Plummeting self-esteem, nagging doubts, an increased risk of depression and anxiety and the potential loss of long-term happiness are also associated with the boomerang dynamic,”
  4. On-off couples have more relational stress than non-cyclical couples. From YourTango: “The truth about on again/off again relationships are that they create much frustration and a whirlwind of emotional chaos and confusion. On again/off again relationships are designed to turn your emotional world upside down and keep you in a state of disillusionment and opposition that can even turn into hatred.”

Segment #2

How to break the on-again, off-again cycle:

  1. Keep the relationship more stable in the first place: From She Knows: “Even if your relationship has gone through several renewals…change something about the relationship. Discuss new rules and norms. Talk about how to resolve issues that led to the breakups or how to improve the relationship. Don’t just hope that the relationship will be better the next time around.”
  2. To end things permanently: Explicitly discuss terminating the relationship with your partner. Don’t leave the status of the relationship ambiguous or hint at a potential reconciliation.
  3. Find common ground. Renewals are less likely to occur if both partners initiate the breakup — in other words, if both partners want the relationship to end.
  4. Date other people. Renewals are less likely if partners date other people after breaking up with their on-off partners.


Final Thoughts:

  • #1  Stop contact. These relationships often get “on” when they’re off because someone intiates contact far too soon. Take at least 30 days of no contact, gain a little perspective, then re-evaluate.  
  • Elijah’s Thoughts
  • Sarah’s Thoughts
    • Not all on-again/off-agains are bad, IF behavior changes and couples proactively work toward avoiding the “off”


In Closing

If you have a question, comment, or funny story about [INSERT SHOW TOPIC] we have a private SafeSpace on facebook where we talk about all sorts of social, professional, and romantic relationship topics, and after every show you can go there and share you story, get some advice from great people or just hang out. Both Sarah and I are there every day and you can be there too, just go to www.relationspodcast.com/join and click the “Join Now’ button.

Until we meet again, keep striving to make every relationship you have the best it can possibly be, including (and especially) the one with yourself. We’ll talk soon.







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