On-again-off-again relationships can negatively impact couples, MU research finds

An MU researcher has recently analyzed the impact that on-again-off-again relationships have on couples, including poorer communication and less commitment

Oct. 15, 2021


Pate McCuien: For many it can be difficult to let a loved one go after a breakup. In fact, over 40 percent of young adults are in a relationship with someone they have previously broken up with, and new research suggests doing so could be hurtful to a person’s mental health.

Kale Monk, an assistant professor at the University of Missouri, analyzed the impact that on-again- off-again relationships can have on couples over time. He says that though these relationships can  work for some couples, ultimately his research shows they are a risky proposition.

Monk: “We’re seeing there are actually quite a few consequences of being in these relationships, like less relationship satisfaction, poorer communication, less commitment, more intimate partner violence, and in this particular study finding that it’s associated with depression and anxiety symptoms concurrently and over time.”

McCuien: Monk says this research is particularly important now as many don’t understand the drawbacks that can come with on-again/ off-again relationships.

Monk: “There can be a lot of popular narratives that make us think that returning to a former partner is a good idea. We see it quite often in movies and tv shows, where the main characters will break up and get back together. It can lead us to believe that it’s maybe even an ideal situation that people would want to be in.”

McCuien:  For more on research like this, visit Showme.missouri.edu

I’m Pate McCuien with a Spotlight on Mizzou

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