Be­ing in an on-off re­la­tion­ship could be bad for men­tal health

The Borneo Post - Nature and health - - Eq -

THEY may be ex­cit­ing and dra­matic for some, but new US re­search has found that on-off re­la­tion­ships could be harm­ing men­tal health. Car­ried out by re­searchers at the Univer­sity of Mis­souri, the new study looked at data from 545 par­tic­i­pants, in­clud­ing 279 in same-sex and 266 in dif­fer­ent-sex re­la­tion­ships. The re­searchers found that the rate of break­ing up and get­ting back to­gether was sim­i­lar across re­la­tion­ship types, but more com­mon in male-male re­la­tion­ships com­pared with fe­male-fe­male and dif­fer­ent-sex re­la­tion­ships.

How­ever, re­gard­less of the re­la­tion­ship type, the more on-off a cou­ple was, the more psy­cho­log­i­cal dis­tress symp­toms the mem­bers ex­hib­ited such as de­pres­sion and anx­i­ety. Pre­vi­ous re­search has es­ti­mated that more than 60 per cent of adults have been in­volved in on-off re­la­tion­ships, and more than one-third of cou­ples who lived to­gether have at some point ended the re­la­tion­ship be­fore later rec­on­cil­ing. In ad­di­tion, com­pared to re­la­tion­ships with­out this pat­tern, on-off re­la­tion­ships have been as­so­ci­ated with higher rates of abuse, poorer com­mu­ni­ca­tion and lower lev­els of com­mit­ment.

“Break­ing up and get­ting back to­gether is not al­ways a bad omen for a cou­ple,” said study au­thor Kale Monk. “In fact, for some cou­ples, break­ing up can help part­ners re­alise the im­por­tance of their re­la­tion­ship, con­tribut­ing to a health­ier, more com­mit­ted unions. On the other hand, part­ners who are rou­tinely break­ing up and get­ting back to­gether could be neg­a­tively im­pacted by the pat­tern.”

The re­searchers added that cou­ples break up and later get back to­gether for many dif­fer­ent rea­sons, although a com­mon one is ne­ces­sity or prac­ti­cal­ity, such as for fi­nan­cial rea­sons or be­cause they feel they have in­vested too much time into the re­la­tion­ship to leave. How­ever, Monk warns against get­ting back to­gether be­cause of feel­ing of obli­ga­tion.

“The find­ings sug­gest that peo­ple who find them­selves reg­u­larly break­ing up and get­ting back to­gether with their part­ners need to ‘look un­der the hood’ of their re­la­tion­ships to de­ter­mine what’s go­ing on,” he added. “If part­ners are hon­est about the pat­tern, they can take the nec­es­sary steps to main­tain their re­la­tion­ships or safely end them. This is vi­tal for pre­serv­ing their well-be­ing.” The find­ings can be found pub­lished on­line in the jour­nal Fam­ily Re­la­tions. – Re­laxnews

New re­search sug­gests that cou­ples who fre­quently break up and get back to­gether could ex­pe­ri­ence more symp­toms of de­pres­sion and anx­i­ety. – Shut­ter­stock photo

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