On-And-Off Again Relationship – When Do You Give Up?

I 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.

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  • 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.

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    • 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!

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  • 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

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    • 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!

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  • 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.

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  • 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.

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  • 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.

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