On again/off again
You and your boyfriend dated for about half a year before you broke up. The two of you were just too different, you’d decided. But you couldn’t get over him and he didn’t forget you, either. So eventually you got back together and now it’s been a year. And things are going pretty well, but you’re worried about the future of your relationship. Will it last this time, you wonder?
What you’ve got going on is the very definition of an on again/off again relationship. Researchers have a term for this: relationship cycling. Basically, it means ending and renewing a relationship. And it turns out it’s common among young adults.
Studies have shown that between 30 and 50 per cent have broken up with their current boyfriend or girlfriend at least once.
What does that mean for their future? To find out, researchers thought it might be a good idea to ask couples who live together or are married whether they’d broken up in the past before committing to each other for good. So they tracked down about 320 couples who shared a home and 750 who were married.
Though it’s obviously hard to say if any couple will stand the test of time, the good news is that an on again/off again relationship isn’t necessarily doomed to fail, the study found.
But there was some bad news, too. Couples who’d called it quits in the past worried a little more about whether their relationship would last - even if they were living together or married. They were also a bit less satisfied with their partners.
These differences were pretty small, the researchers pointed out, so when it comes to you and your boyfriend, just because you didn’t know if you were right for each other in the past, doesn’t mean you won’t end up together.
People obviously change over time, especially during young adulthood, and these changes could lead to a relationship that you’re both happier with. But it might also be that the two of you find a way to deal with the issues that caused you to break up in the first place.
Reference: ‘It’s complicated’: The continuity and correlates of cycling in cohabiting and marital relationships. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships. Published: March 31, 2014.
*Persons in the picture are models.