Relationships in and out of relationships are usually outside the relationships that people try to maintain.” – Anonymous
The pair break up and reconcile again, establishing a pattern of intimacy and heartbreak known as the off relationship, leaving the two of them stalking each other.
Do you also have a pattern of detaching and reconciling with your partner? If so, you’re not alone: Research has found that 60 percent of adults have experienced in and out relationships. No surprise: It’s a recurring story of the relationships between film and television.
But have you ever thought about how this pattern affects your mental health? Or, what might it reflect about yourself and the kinds of relationships — or partners — you’re looking for?
If so, what might you need to know about building a positive, sustainable relationship, that supports the mental health and well-being of you and your partner?
Do You Have A Healthy Or An On Off Relationship?
New research from the University of Missouri sheds some light on these questions. She found that the back-and-forth relationship pattern harmed mental health. Specifically, data from more than 500 people in existing relationships found that such a pattern is associated with increased anxiety and depression.
Furthermore, researchers found that the pattern of separation and reunification was associated with higher rates of abuse, lower levels of communication, and poorer communication.
Kale Monk, lead author of the study, which was published in Family Relations and described here, correctly pointed out that people who identify themselves in this style need to “look under the hood” to see what they’re doing in their relationships. However, doing so can be difficult, even intimidating, as most people who seek treatment for themselves or as a couple attest. And then, what you can do to break the pattern and create a lasting relationship is another major challenge.
The study authors offer some good advice, such as examining the reasons for and how to break up, and emphasizing that you should focus on the positives in the relationship, to reconcile permanently. Of course, this assumes that the relationship has not become inherently toxic and unhealthy.
Ways To Engage In A Meaningful Relationship
The problem is that following the author’s advice is easier said than done. But there are some ways to engage with a partner who is self-aware and open that can enhance the likelihood of a sustainable positive connection.
1 Review And Learn From What You’ve Done In Previous Relationships.
What attracts you to partners? What led to the breakup – or the reconnection? What did you learn or what did you not learn? I call this doing Relationship Inventory.
2 Practice “Forgetting Yourself” In The Relationship.
This means realizing that your relationship is a third entity that needs service and service in itself. This is a different perspective and way of relating than only serving your own needs and desires, especially when it leads to dominance or surrender from you or your partner.
3 Learn To Be Transparent With Each Other.
Show your desires, your fears, hopes, and weaknesses – and be accepted for your wishes. If you are committed to doing so, you are planting the seeds of growing intimacy and sustainable relationship – a relationship becomes stronger over time, instead of a rotary door.