Saturday August 29th 2015

On-And-Off Again Relationship – Time To Give Up?

toronto_akiteng-1095I receive email questions from men and women, young and old, and from all walks of life who are in a relationship that on-again and off-again. Both people are in some ways hurting each other but the attraction and chemistry is so strong that they can’t imagine life without the other. It is as if they’re locked in what I call “madness for two.”

Instead of responding to each email question (which frankly I can’t, because of the number of email questions I receive daily) I thought it might help to write a small post instead.

It’s always best to walk away from an unhealthy relationship especially if it involves abuse, control, manipulation, entrapment and codependency issues – which in most on/off relationship is the case. But what if you are not in any physical danger but just riding the emotional rollercoaster with the object of your affection and strong desire, when is it time to walk away?

I personally do not think people should rush to end a deep connection that is so strong unless they’ve explored all options, looked at it from all directions and done whatever is reasonably possible to make it work. Maybe what you have is good enough and you’d be a fool to abandon it in search of a better relationship you may never find.

Besides, there are some relationships that are just meant to be – problems and all. If you asked or looked closely enough, you’ll find “we stuck together through it all” love stories everywhere.

So before you go looking for something better (that you may never find), make sure you’ve tried all you can to make the relationship you already have better:

1. Get clear about what the problem is

What most people do is simply weigh the pros and cons of staying vs. leaving. The trap in this is that there are always pros and cons in every relationship, and if you really want to stay you’ll find more reasons to stay and less reasons to leave. And if you really want to leave, you’ll find more reasons to leave than stay. You are not really weighing anything.

Leaving a relationship before knowing what the real problem is self-defeating. Remember the saying : Everywhere you go, there you are! Whatever caused this relationship to end if not dealt with, will be carried over to the next relationship.

2. Take 100% responsibility for your own feelings and needs

Be totally honest with yourself, after all you are the very person hurting from your choices and decisions. Get to the bottom of what you are reacting to in your partner’s behaviour and what they are reflecting back to you (anger, neediness, emotional distance etc).

3. Change what you need to change

You must continue to grow and change for the better because relationships by nature change. No relationship remains the same. If your thought pattern is anything like “if he/she changes then everything will be okay (we’ll have lots of sex and raise cute gifted offspring and live happily ever after), or if you can’t change because the other person is refusing to change, then may be it’s best to give up on the relationship now.  The only person you can change is you. Others react to the change you make.

4. Get off the negativity and “bitter” people’s wagon

Choose the kind of advice you take in but even more importantly avoid asking or taking advice from people who are simply reacting from a place of pain and hurt themselves. You can always tell where someone is at in their own lives by how they react to experiences that bring out hidden pain. Just check out most relationship blogs and forums – so many hurting, angry and bitter people dishing out relationship advice.

How do I know? Because I am a regular at “Get Your Ex Back” discussion forums, just because I love offering my advice and experiences, but also because I am a little bothered by just how many people out there, are quick to advice others to leave relationships that may be troubled, but may also still be restored.

It takes just a few threads for you to figure out that some people seem to have an agenda which is to provide destructive advice that will rob others of the precious thing that they themselves do not have and perhaps, will never have for any number of reasons.

People who are incapable of love are also incapable of being around love without having some deep feelings of resentment, jealousy or even anger stirred up. These people may even seem like they have your best interest at heart but clandestinely attack the love you have or seek to have. This is because they can’t bear to see anyone with the “thing” that forever eludes them.

If necessary, talk to someone who has worked on his or her own “issues”.  An objective person can help you ask yourself the questions you probably would not ask yourself. An objective person can also help you out of your comfort zone and push you to make the change you need to make.

When you’ve done all you can and feel happy, joyful and peaceful, and the relationship is still stagnant or on/off again, then you can leave and start the next relationship where you ended this one.

Readers' Questions and The Love Doctor's Answers...

28 Responses to “On-And-Off Again Relationship – Time To Give Up?”

  1. Musathegentlesoul says:

    Yangki, my favorite post by far.

    I’m guilty of leaving many relationships at the first sign of problems. It’s our consumer mentality (Don’t fix it just buy a new and better one).

    With more personal growth (emotional and spiritual), I’m making more effort not to treat people and relationships as disposables. Relationships are hard work and not for the faint hearted.

    Your articles and posts have been of great help in my journey. I believe in true love! Thanks to you.

  2. I agree with you on “consumer mentality” and have written quite a few articles about it.

    I’m deeply humbled by your kind words and proud to be part of your journey, even in a very small way. I do hope that one of these days love sees your readiness to love and be loved and comes knocking. You deserve it.

    PS: For a second there I thought I read, “I believe in miracles…. Where did you come from… You sexy thing…You!” lol!

  3. Musathegentlesoul says:

    That crossed my mind many months ago but feared I’d get slapped, WHACK! I’m only 5’11 and African women are very strong, so I’ve heard. LOL

  4. ihihihihi… listening to “voices” again, are we?

    It’s nice to see you’re back to your “easy” self. Judging from your comments a few weeks ago, you seemed a little down (before you say it, yes! I try to guess people’s mood by what they write). Hang in there!

  5. Cassy says:

    We have broken up 4 times in the 8 months we’ve been together. I’m always the one who breaks up with him then he begs and I come back because he’s hurting. I honestly don’t think I love him and don’t see this relationship going anywhere. He let’s me get away with so many things an older guy (I’m 44, he’s 27) wouldn’t which makes me even less attracted to him. I don’t want to continue stringing him along and using him for sex. He’s a good guy and it hurts me to see him hurting. Is there a way to break up with someone without anyone getting hurt?

  6. Yes, it’s called “being honest”… :)

    Breaking up is never easy and most breaks up hurt no matter who and how you do it. “It’s not you, it’s me” sounds “fair” to someone because on the surface you’re trying not to hurt them. But on a deeper level it isn’t really fair because it keeps the person in “limbo” wondering why if he’s “so good” you broke up with him anyway (that’s if he buys it). Most people get stuck for a while unable to move on. Not fair!

    Be honest with him and tell him how you really feel and why you feel that way. He’ll hurt for a while but he’ll be better off. Also don’t offer him friendship instead, it’s insulting. Let him decide if he wants to remain friends or cut off all contact. It doesn’t help with the hurt, but it’s the least you can do not to add insult to injury.

    Hope this helps.

  7. Cassy says:

    Tons! Thank you :)

    I find your blog informative and so refreshing. How can I contact you to get some coaching? There’s someone else I’m very interested in, older guy, (47) but he’s quite elusive. I guess it’s because he knows I’m with this other guy just for sex. I’d like some more honest ways of getting him more interested in me and hopefully have a long term relationship.

  8. Ummm! There is someone else?! … :)

    Just click the “Get Help” button above and you’ll find all the information you need including how to contact me in case you want to talk to me right away.

    Thank you for your kind words about my blog.

  9. Vishi says:

    I love this post. Relationships are too easy to get out of these days and its time people grew up and learned to work out their relationship problems.

  10. Tola says:

    Still, you need 2 people working in a relationship. If just one side wants to work, it’s not gonna happen. And I think you need to want for real.

  11. Fragilegalaxy says:

    I believe in working out problems and not running away from them but I can’t keep trying to work on a relationship when the other person isn’t putting in any effort. I’ve done everything I can think of including counselling but he says the way he feels about me has changed and he does not think any effort on his part will change how he feels.

  12. In the end, if he doesn’t care about you enough to TRY to make it work, then he doesn’t deserve to be with you. Some relationships just can’t be restored, unfortunately.

  13. solo_flierr says:

    I don’t think that one should declare it over just because one isn’t happy, peaceful and joyful. No relationship is happy and joyful all of the time.

  14. You’re right that no relationship is happy, peaceful or joyous all time. However, if one or both parties are chronically unhappy, stressed or angry, then what keeps the two people together is often something else (like co-dependent) other than love.

  15. Johnny says:

    Thank you for this post. I’m in a similar situation but I’ll not give up. Love conquers everything. I’ll fight for her because she’s the only one that makes my life complete.

  16. Vicky says:

    Best advice I’ve read. I’m 43 but never had a long term relationship. Lately I’ve been thinking that if I’d hang on in some of these relationships I might have broken my pattern of continuall¬y making the same kind of choices and breaking up over the same kind of issues. I’ve tried to work on my issues but it’s difficult to deal with relationship issues in a vacuum.

  17. lhey says:

    your insights have open my eyes once again that fulfilling relationships are strengthen and build through hard work. It takes certain degree of maturity on both parties to make it last.
    when i read what you wrote, it was like i’ve found what i was been looking for all along. it was a blessing that i came across your words of wisdom.

  18. Skyla says:

    My ex and I have been trying to make things work, this is our 8th breakup in 3 years. I thought I wanted to be with him for the rest of my life until I came to your site and started reading all the articles about how a mature healthy relationship looks like that I came to the realization that I don’t want the same relationship we had. I’m not even sure he is the right guy for me anymore.

  19. Hannah says:

    If you love someone deeply and are having problems, you don’t give up. Love is worth fighting for, even if it means trying and trying over and over again in the face of apparent rejection.

  20. I so agree with you… if the relationship is worth it, you don’t give up easily, you fight for it. In our “feel good” world, it’s easier to give up than work on the problems in the relationship.

    That said, there comes a time when you have to accept that someone does not want to be with you, especially if your trying makes the other person want to get as far way from you as possible.

    It’s even possible there is nothing “wrong” with the other person, and nothing “wrong” with you, the relationship just isn’t working or the two of you are just not right for each other. Not every two people are “meant” to be together.

  21. Beatrice says:

    My ex and I have been involved in an on and off relationship for 4 years. This last breakup, he told me he needed sometime apart but I kept pressing him to decide if he wanted to breakup or not, and he finally decided he wanted to break up. I ignored him at first but he kept finding reasons to communicate with me. After 3 weeks of him contacting me, I told him I could only be friends with him and he accepted without any problem. We talked, texted and chatted virtually every day for a few weeks, then one day he stopped contact and started ignoring me. I feel like such a fool because he was never a “friend”, it was about control on his part. Now when we pass each, other we don’t speak.

  22. Looks like the two of you are locked in some kind of toxic pattern that is not good for either of you. And it’s not just him… by 1) pressing him to decide, 2) ignoring him and 3) telling him you could only be friends, you too were playing the “control-game”. It’s just that the tables turned on you when he stopped contact. I’m sure if he hadn’t, you would have. That’s the nature of toxic patterns.

    Hopefully, this will be a wake-up call for you to stop whatever you two are in to. Things won’t get better just because you break-up and get back together again. Both of you have to change something to stop the toxicity.

  23. Jesse says:

    Yangki, my ex and I have been on an off and on relationship for the last 2 years. She’s broken up with me 3 times before but the last breakup which happened in April was initiated by me. We’re on talking terms and it’s obvious we’re both still in love with each other. But while I still love and care for her very much, I’m hesitant about getting back with her if I could. We’ve both hurt each other both directly and indirectly and I feel that if we get back together nothing would be different. I don’t know if I feel this way because I’m still hurting or because I’m finally being reasonable and seeing this relationship for what it is. I’m really confused.

  24. First of all, it’s normal to be in love with someone but not want to be in a relationship with her/him. This is your 5th attempt, any sane person would have the same reservations. Secondly, It’s probably both. You are still feeling hurt but also finally being reasonable and seeing this relationship for what it is.

    I suggest that you do not make a rush decision either direction. Wait a few weeks and see if you still feel the same way. Make sure you maintain contact so that if you decide you want to try it again, you don’t start from zero contact. Starting from zero contact makes the climb to getting back together a lot harder. It’ll also help to write the reasons for and against getting back together. This will help you be clear if the reasons for your repeated breaking up are things that can be worked out, or things that just won’t be resolved however hard you try. It is very important that with this exercise you be as honest with yourself as possible.

    Whether you can take advantage of the love you feel for each other and create a better relationship depends on if both of you are willing to work on what’s keeping you from having that relationship.

  25. SharonK says:

    I appreciate the spirit of the article but I do not think that people really change. I’ve known a lot of people like this. It’s all just talk, they have no intention of changing themselves or trying to fix the problem. They just say they’ll change to get their ex back.

  26. I think people do change. I have changed over the years and know so many others that have.

    But you have a valid point. Knowing what went wrong, what one needs to change and saying that one will change or has changed is easy to do. Going the extra mile to really change is another thing.

  27. Paulser says:

    I don’t want to give up on us but she’s pretty much given up on us. We broke up for the 4th time 4 months ago. Her main problem was that I did not have a steady job and hang out with my buddies and drink a lot. I’ve since found a steady job that pays well, I have a new apartment and don’t go out that much anymore. We stayed friends after we broke up and see each other socially quite often. She’s very friendly and flirty with me. But when I told her to give us another chance, she said she doesn’t think her heart can take any more breaking up. I told her I did not want to give up on us, I want her back in my life. What can I do to make her change her mind? Please help me.

    btw, we’re both in mid-30s

  28. Sounds like there are still strong feelings there but she’s just not sure – and rightly so – that things will work out. My suggestion is not to ask her to come back into the relationship but to ask her to “test drive” things for a time period you can both agree on (1 month, 2 or 3). If she’s open to this, do not try restart the old relationship. Your task is to do a complete do over of everything right from the start.

    If there are other “issues” other than the job and hanging out with your buddies, make sure you know what they are and have real sound solutions as to how you’re going to handle things differently, including how you act and react to “problem” subjects. She has to see that not only do you get it, but that it’s going to be better this time round otherwise the “test drive” will fail and with it your chance of ever getting her back. It’s not easy, but it can be done!

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