On-And-Off Again Relationship – 5 Things That Make It Work

On-and-off again relationship can work once and for all and can last a long time if you do certain things right.

What is on-and-off again relationship?

There are two types of on and off again relationships:

Toxic on-and-off again relationship – 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.”

Non-toxic on-and-off again relationship – Two people who love each other keep breaking up and getting back together because of the same issues or problems; issues and problems they are not addressing or cannot come to a solution about.

Can an on-and-off again relationship work?

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.

If you do these 5 things right your on-and-off again relationship can work once and for all.

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. 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.

Walking away from an on and off again relationship before you really know what the real problem is self-defeating. Remember the saying : Everywhere you go, there you are! Whatever caused this relationship to end if don’t dealt with, will be carried over to the next relationship.

So make sure you really understand why your on and off again relationship isn’t working.

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

Many relationship are on-again and off-again because one or both people have not taken full responsibility for own their feelings and needs. Some people haven’t even had a discussion of feelings and needs; and wonder why they keep breaking up and getting back together.

If you want your on-and-off again relationship to work: 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 my ex changes then everything will be okay
  • My ex is refusing to change, this relationship can’t work

Your on-and-off again relationship is not going to work. Yes, it takes two people to make a relationship work. But it can take only one person to change a relationship dynamic. And the only person you can change is you. Your ex will react or respond to the change you make.

So before you walk away from an on and ff again relationship, try t change first. If necessary, talk to someone who has worked on their own “issues”. An objective person can help you ask yourself the questions you probably would not ask yourself. They can also help you out of your comfort zone and push you to make the change you need to make.

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

Choose the kind of advice you follow; 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.

It takes just a few threads for you to figure out that some people seem to have an agenda 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 you want your on-and-off again relationship to work: seek the company of people who know what it takes to make a relationship work; and last.

5. Talk about how things will be different before you get back together

Most relationships are on and off again relationship because two people start of where they ended the relationship. They are so happy to get back together that they go right back to the old relationship; and old dynamics.

Make sure that before you get back together, you sit down and talk about why the relationship ended; and what will be different this time around. Make small commitments, both of you, how you are going to make it work. Be clear about what each party needs o do and how you make each other accountable.

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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  1. says: SharonK

    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.

    1. 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.

  2. says: Beatrice

    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.

    1. 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.

  3. says: Hannah

    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.

    1. 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.

  4. says: Skyla

    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.