Getting back together with your ex is a horrible idea, says science

Run. Run while you still can!

You know how all your friends tell you it’s a horrible idea to get back together with your ex and you never listen, because, you know, this time it will be different? You might be able to ignore the warnings of those who know you best, but you cannot ignore SCIENCE.

Finally, there is real evidence that reuniting with an old flame is the equivalent of bashing your head into a way repeatedly in the hopes that it will hurt less each time.

Unfortunately, the vicious cycle is all too common — especially among young adults. 40 percent of college-aged people are in relationships with people who they have broken up with before getting back together.

Amber Vennum, assistant professor of family studies and human services at Kansas State University, analyzed “cyclical” relationships and the information that the couples gave about them. She told  MedicalXpress that on-again-off-again romances can have some serious negative ramifications.

People in these cyclical relationships tend to make hastier decisions, like moving in together or having a child. Because of that, those couples are often less satisfied, which leads to more negative decisions and lower self-esteem. They also tend to be less certain about their future together.

“The idea is that because people aren’t making explicit commitments to the relationship, they are less likely to engage in pro-relationship behaviors, such as discussing the state of the relationship or making sacrifices for their partner,” Vennum said. “The thought is that, ‘I’m not committed to you, why would I work very hard for you?’”

Sounds horrible. So why would anyone want to be in a cyclical relationship anyway? The same old reasons… people believe their partner has “changed,” they think communication has improved… or (the most embarrassing reason of all) they aren’t really sure whether they actually broke up in the first place.  

“When cyclical couples break up, they tend to be ambiguous about ending the relationship,” Vennum said. “So it can be unclear to one or both partners if they broke up and why they broke up, which leads to them continuing the romantic relationship. Other times the breakup won’t be unilateral, so one person pursues the other until they get back together.”

And if you’re thinking about getting engaged to someone you’ve broke up with before, by all means, don’t.

“If you tend to be cyclical while dating, you tend to be cyclical while married,” Vennum warned. The more you are cyclical, the more your relationship quality tends to decrease and that creates a lack of trust and uncertainty about the future of the relationship, perpetuating the pattern.”

So please, can’t you just find someone new?



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