How On-Off Relationships Affect Our Mental Health


By Katerina Torres

It’s easy to gush over Ross and Rachel’s love story on “Friends” because they’re characters on a TV show and because it gives us hope that the ex we’re pining over will return to us someday. But recent research shows that those kinds of on-off relationships are toxic for mental health.

There are several reasons we go back to old relationships. Sometimes we get back with an ex out of comfort, while other times it’s for financial reasons, like splitting the rent. While it’s important to pinpoint why you’re in this on-again-off-again cycle, it’s more crucial to understand the effect it can have on your mental health.

When examining data from over 500 individuals who are currently in relationships, research published in the journal "Family Relations" showed that “an increase in breaking up and reuniting was associated with more psychological distress symptoms such as depression and anxiety.” The authors also noted that these findings did not differ much between same-sex and heterosexual relationships.

Anyone who has been in an on-off relationship knows that more times than not you are regretful that you gave it another go. The only healthy way to try again in a relationship is to discuss the issues you both had in an open and honest way, then find ways to remedy those problems. 

However, if you tried this initially in your relationship and nothing changed, chances are it won't get better, no matter how many times you try again. What will happen is that each time you give the relationship another go, it'll get a little bit worse than the previous time.

Now more than ever, with research showing that on-off relationships affect our mental health, you want to think twice before jumping back into a relationship that could prove toxic to your well-being. 

writer photo

Katerina Torres

Katerina is the Head of Content at Mend. When she’s not cooking up new vegan recipes, she’s binge-watching yet another TV show. Her goal is to be your daily dose of positivity, whether through her writing, videos, or social media posts. You can watch her share bite-sized wellness tips in her weekly video series, Tub Talks.

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