Tips For Removing Yourself From The Toxic On-Again, Off-Again Relationship Cycle

Does this sound familiar? You feel like your relationship is the best it's ever been. You and your partner are pleased, and things are going great until you break up. Time goes by — days, weeks, months — and you get back together. Then it happens again ... and again ... and again. This is an example of a toxic on-again, off-again relationship cycle. It's a vicious rotation, and even though you recognize you're in it, removing yourself from the situation is difficult. It's like a cut that re-opens, no matter how many band-aids you put on. 


More often than not, we choose to remember the good parts of the relationship and the positive feelings we associate with them. This is why we're typically drawn back into the relationship, toxic or not. On top of that, we fear the unknown and the uncomfortable, so we stay where it's safe, even if it technically isn't. It's a bad habit, but hey, we're only human. Thankfully, we have some tips to help remove yourself from this toxic relationship cycle. 

Know who you are and what you want

Before you can separate yourself from the on-again, off-again relationship cycle, it's important to know who you are and what you want. Oftentimes, we can lose ourselves in our relationship, so it's difficult to differentiate our wants and needs from our partners. This keeps us trapped in that toxic pattern of breaking up and getting back together, believing we need the other person to feel happy or complete. However, your values may be completely different, but you've been trapped in this cycle for so long that you didn't even know it.


For example, maybe you need a partner who is better at communicating, or you require more affection than your current partner is willing to give you. Whatever it is, write it down in a journal as a reminder the next time you want to get back together. If you don't trust yourself not to stay away, give a copy of this list to your bestie, who can hold you accountable if you feel the urge to text your ex.

Remove all traces of them

This is a tough one, but you must go cold turkey to get out of this toxic cycle. This means deleting their number, blocking their social media, and getting rid of anything that reminds you of them. If you can't bring yourself to delete photos of you two together (which is totally understandable), we suggest storing them in a place like Google Photos so you don't have to see them every time you open your camera roll. A clean break isn't easy, but it's necessary to help you move on.


Oddly, your ex will try to find other ways to contact you, but you must be strong. By giving in to their begging, you're reopening that door and letting them waltz back in, just as you've done many times before. This time, instead of closing the door, blow it to bits so they can never walk through it again.

Change your mindset about being on your own

As we said earlier, many people stay in on-again, off-again relationships because they're afraid of the uncomfortable and having to start over again, or they're scared they won't find anyone else who loves them, like their ex. It's a common fear, but it doesn't excuse them from staying in a toxic relationship. In order to break from the cycle, you need to change your mindset about what happens after you call it quits for good. Instead of cringing at the thought of going on a first date again, consider it a positive thing. 


Being uncomfortable is exciting! It allows you to meet new people and learn more about yourself. Think of it this way; no relationship is 100% comfortable at the beginning; as time passes and you get to know more about one another, things start to feel easy. If you've done it once, you can do it again. You just have to tell that little voice in your head to back off.

Accept your mistakes, but be kind to yourself

When we fall back into the on-again, off-again relationship cycle, a common first response is getting angry at the other person or ourselves. We blame them for drawing us back in for the hundredth time, and we blame ourselves for falling into their stupid trap, but none of that is productive. Instead of getting mad at yourself, use those feelings of guilt and resentment to grow. Recognize the choices you made that put you in this situation so you can stop yourself from making them in the future.


For instance, you two break up again, and you swear this is the last time you're ever getting back together. Cut to a few weeks later when you reach out with some fake excuse you gave yourself so you could text them. Pretty soon, you're back exactly where you started; however, if you understand where you went wrong, you'll know better than to pick up the phone the next time you break up.