by Teagin Maddox
…. focusing on a man’s strengths at your own expense is nothing more than a strategy for self-sabotage.
On-again, off-again relationships look normal, but feels exhausting. On-again, off-again relationships keep you running into the same problems and trying the same—unworkable—solutions over and over again. Everytime you end it, you mean it, but you find yourself unable to stop thinking about him, and then you fall for him all over again despite what you promised yourself. This relationship pattern isn’t easily broken, even after you call it off.
It’s very difficult to get out of the breakup/makeup cycle with toxic men. The cycle tends to be unending because these men see your resistance to the established pattern of on-again/off-again as a challenge to get you back. It’s part of their fun. When you see the on-again, off-again cycle (and feel pressured to return to the relationship because he suddenly “gets it” only after you leave) know that you have most likely been in a destructive relationship and prepare yourself for breakup drama.
To break the cycle, you need extreme self-awareness, honesty and to stick to a time frame. Once you become aware that the relationship pattern is warped, you will most likely see that the relationship has always been unworkable. That’s rough because you’ll feel like you wasted your time.
Give yourself a break because it takes time to see that someone is unable to change or to sustain change. You may have focused on his good qualities and overlooked or excused his flaws—and that is a great relationship quality providing you are in a solid relationship with a man who can meet you halfway and seeks improvements himself. If you are not, then focusing on a man’s strengths at your own expense is nothing more than a strategy for self-sabotage. It is critical to know the distinction between a workable and an unworkable relationship, or you may repeatedly find yourself in on-again, off-again relationships that absorb your time and energy. Here’s how to stop the cycle in 3 steps:
1. Decide how long is too long in the on-again, off-again pattern—and stick to that time frame. You draw the line, hope, wait, and repeat. Once that’s happened three times for the same reason, you better start paying sharp attention. Try to notice what role you are playing in the pattern of the on-again, off-again setup, as you may be waiting for evidence that proves you wrong about him so you can stay; it’s self sabotage at its finest. When you hang on despite what you’ve experienced, it’s time to look at yourself, not him, to figure out why you’re being so tolerant of this behavior.
It’s hard to turn the mirror on ourselves though, so pick a time frame for the changes to happen, and stick to it. Consider this time frame top-secret and take action within it (three weeks, three months or whatever seems reasonable). If things are still the same after the time is up, don’t discuss it anymore; just cut your losses and move on.
2. Look at your level of empathy and compassion.If you are extra compassionate toward him, it can cause you to stay in a relationship that has run its course. You’re keeping the cycle going. But when you shift from focusing on the relationship shortcomings and his needs, games and excuses to focusing on yourself and becoming personally accountable for changing the game, it puts you in the driver’s seat. When you turn your empathy and compassion inward, you start creating them for yourself, rather than waiting for him to bring the things you need into your life.
3. Don’t allow yourself to work harder on the relationship than he does. If you’ve found yourself stuck in an on-again, off-againlove pattern, become temporarily self-centered instead of letting everything be about, or for, the two of you or trying to fix things all the time. Let things be what they are for a while and pay attention to what you see.
When you don’t allow yourself to work harder on the relationship than he does, it provides clarity very quickly. It is also likely to trigger some new behavior, which is when he suddenly complies with your wishes or delivers on promises that had been made before, but not lived up to. This is part of the pattern in destructive relationships, so it’s important to notice when he suddenly steps up the good behavior, especially if it only happens when you stop making efforts to improve things. You may not want to leave him, and he may have a lot of great qualities, but that doesn’t change the fact that things will not improve if he is unable to make or sustain change.
Read this article in Your Tango
Op-ed pieces and contributions are the opinions of the writers only and do not represent the opinions of Y!/YNaija.