3 Rules to the “On Again/Off Again” Relationship
We’ve all had them. We’ve all watched and listened to friends as they’ve maneuvered them. Days turn into weeks which evolve into months and then before you know it, you’re three years strong on a never-ending dating merry-go-round with someone you aren’t even sure you like. Are we gluttons for punishment? Do we have so little sense of what we need in our lives that we’re willing to accept constant confusion? Is it too difficult to permanently walk away from the drama and excitement? Does walking away for good just feel too… final? Regardless of time, place, and age, the on again/off again relationship is awkward to witness and even tougher to navigate.
So here are 3 Rules to follow if (when) you find yourself in this vicious cycle. By the way, I didn’t happen upon these. Oh no, these are from years of making my friends uncomfortable as they sat across the dinner table from me and my guy–that I’d just broken up with two days before and swore we’d never get back together–watching us act as though everything was perfect. Enjoy!
RULE #1 When to announce the split: No one wants to get pulled back and forth into your roller coaster of a relationship. Your friends love you but will quickly tire of hearing about a breakup one week and a loving reunion the next. Let’s be honest, once you’ve gone and returned from Splitsville a few times, they won’t believe you anyway. So make it easy on everyone and wait at least 7 days before promulgating status updates regarding your union. Don’t make a big Facebook announcement to your 400+ friends. Avoid sending a mass email to friends detailing what happened and how accepting you both are with the outcome. And even though it’ll take everything in you (depending on why the split happened in the first place), absolutely NO reaching out to his friends or family with hopes of giving them your side of the story. Just sit back and be patient. It’s already emotionally draining to go through a breakup. Do you really want to deal with the embarrassment of cleaning up a mess that would’ve resolved itself if you would have simply waited a week?
RULE #2 When to purge: The pictures, teddy bears, clothes, movie stubs –all reminders of what was but will never be again. Or will it? It’s not surprising to want to rid your space of the things that bring him/her to mind. However, because of the tumultuousness of this relationship, cutting photos, trashing stuffed animals, and burning clothes may be permanent actions caused by fleeting emotions. Instead of doing something rash that will be impossible to undo, avoid purging until 7 days beyond announcing the split. By this time, two weeks will have passed and you’ll have a better idea of what was versus what could ever be again. Also, with options such as Goodwill & yard sales, your load can be lessened while also being socially and financially beneficial.
RULE #3 When & what to share: Have you ever told a friend something bad about your mate only to find your friend holding a grudge long after you resolved things with your partner and moved on? Yeah, we all have. That’s the problem with on again/off again dynamics. Because there’s never an understood end, it’s impossible to know when it’s okay to give people a real view into what went wrong. Consider yourself under the same 7 day obligation from Rule #1. Don’t say much if anything until time has passed and emotions are settled. Since there’s a greater chance you’ll date this person again, refrain from the negativity. Dishing dirt now could mean cleaning up crap later. In terms of social media, don’t post passive aggressive updates or tweets hoping your ex (and his/her friends) are hanging onto your every word. We all know you’re in a great place with a fabulous life and now that you’re free from the dead weight, you can soar. Yeah, sure. Just keep it to a minimum so we won’t be totally confused next week when you post pics of the two of you on the ferris wheel grinning and kissing as a huge pink teddy bear sits in your lap.
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