Re­unit­ing with your ex can make you sick

Study: Chances may rise for psy­cho­log­i­cal distress

USA TODAY Weekend Extra - - LIFE - Sonja Haller

Ital­ian de­sign­ers are pulling out all the stops at Mi­lan Fash­ion Week. Check out some of our fa­vorite looks as well as the big-name de­sign­ers and mod­els in at­ten­dance. An­i­mal style Ash­ley Gra­ham hit the run­way dur­ing the Dolce & Gab­bana fash­ion show in a bold an­i­mal print dress. Cool col­ors Ver­sace went for bold prints, in­clud­ing this dress worn by Gigi Ha­did.

Who hasn’t got­ten back to­gether with their ex, hope­ful that THIS time things will be dif­fer­ent?

We root for on-and-off cou­ples in TV land. Sam and Diane. Ross and Rachel. Luke and Lore­lai. Why did it take so long for these ob­vi­ously toxic cou­ples to just Work. It. Out?

Science says it would have been bet­ter if they hadn’t.

This is be­cause a pat­tern of “re­la­tion­ship cy­cling,” or re­peat­edly break­ing up and get­ting back to­gether, can make peo­ple sick.

There’s the ini­tial hurt, anger and sad­ness that may come with a breakup. But re­search from the Univer­sity of Mis­souri pub­lished in the jour­nal Fam­ily Re­la­tions found that be­yond that, psy­cho­log­i­cal distress in the form of de­pres­sion and anx­i­ety can oc­cur for in­di­vid­u­als within con­stant boomerang re­la­tion­ships.

“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,” said study co-au­thor Kale Monk, an as­sis­tant pro­fes­sor of hu­man de­vel­op­ment and fam­ily science at the Univer­sity of Mis­souri. “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 re­search looked at 545 in­di­vid­u­als in re­la­tion­ships, a third of which ex­pe­ri­enced re­la­tion­ship cy­cling. The on-off re­la­tion­ships were as­so­ci­ated with higher rates of abuse, lower lev­els of com­mit­ment and poorer com­mu­ni­ca­tion. The in­di­vid­u­als in the hot-cold re­la­tion­ships ex­pe­ri­enced greater psy­cho­log­i­cal distress, such as de­pres­sion and anx­i­ety.

The more on-off cy­cles a per­son re­ported, the larger the in­creases in de­pres­sion and anx­i­ety seemed to be, Monk told Time.

Why do peo­ple break up, make up?

The rea­sons are var­ied, but one of the most com­mon ex­pla­na­tions is ne­ces­sity or prac­ti­cal­ity, Monk said.

He cited fi­nan­cial rea­sons such as home own­er­ship or be­cause part­ners be­lieve they have in­vested too much time in the re­la­tion­ship to leave.

Part­ners should get back to­gether based on ded­i­ca­tion, not obli­ga­tion, he said.

Monk, a former cou­ples ther­a­pist, said cou­ples con­sid­er­ing get­ting back to­gether should ask the ques­tion: Is the Big and bold Czech model Eva Herzigova wore a show­stop­ping black gown. rea­son rooted in com­mit­ment and pos­i­tive feel­ings or more about obli­ga­tions and con­ve­nience?

“The lat­ter rea­sons are more likely to lead down a path of con­tin­ual distress,” he said. “Re­mem­ber that it is OK to end a toxic re­la­tion­ship. For ex­am­ple, if your re­la­tion­ship is be­yond re­pair, do not feel guilty leav­ing for your men­tal or phys­i­cal well-be­ing.”

Rekin­dled ro­mance can be good

In an es­say for Thrive Global, Monk cited ad­di­tional re­search that showed that in­ti­mate re­la­tion­ships have the power to sup­port health or break it down. Well suited Kaia Ger­ber walks the run­way at the Sal­va­tore Fer­rag­amo show, which had an em­pha­sis on over­sized jack­ets. Fendi fun Ken­dall Jen­ner rocks the Fendi run­way with an over­sized white purse.

A cou­ple that comes back to­gether after a break can be good if dur­ing the time apart each per­son took time to gain per­spec­tive, he said.

“It is im­por­tant to note that rekin­dling a past re­la­tion­ship or be­ing in an ‘on-again/off-again re­la­tion­ship’ is not al­ways set­ting a cou­ple up for de­spair,” he said. “In my cur­rent qual­i­ta­tive work, some in­di­vid­u­als in­di­cated that they feel ‘tak­ing a break’ gave them much needed per­spec­tive and time to re-eval­u­ate their re­la­tion­ship. These peo­ple dis­cussed re­al­iz­ing they did not want to be with­out their part­ner and that they felt that the time apart made them stronger as a cou­ple.”

PHO­TOS BY MIGUEL ME­D­INA/AFP/GETTY IM­AGES; MAT­TEO BAZZI/EPA/EFE; AN­DREAS RENTZ/GETTY IM­AGES; AN­TO­NIO CALANNI/ AP; FLAVIO LO SCALZO/EPA/EFE

GETTY IM­AGES

Re­peated make ups and breakups are hard on the re­la­tion­ship and in­di­vid­ual health, re­search says.

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