A Definition of Relationships marked by a Cycle of Breakup and Reconciliation

In the “Cycle of Breakup and Reconciliation” relationship type, partners find themselves in a repetitive pattern of ending their relationship and then rekindling it shortly after. This cycle is often driven by intense emotional experiences. Most commonly a passionate reunion that temporarily overshadows underlying issues, only for those issues to re-emerge and cause another breakup. The constant shifting between separation and reunion can create emotional turbulence for both individuals. This can lead to feelings of confusion, exhaustion, and uncertainty about the relationship’s future.

While reconciliations may provide short-term relief, the recurring breakups indicate unresolved issues that prevent the relationship from achieving stability. Such a dynamic can inhibit growth and prevent genuine conflict resolution. It also keeps partners from moving forward, either together in a healthier relationship or separately towards their own individual paths.

(This article is part of the series: Unhealthy Relationship Patterns: Categorizing the 21 types)

The Perspective of Partners

The Initiator:

  • Perception: Views the relationship as a rollercoaster of highs and lows, where the intense reunions justify the painful breakups. Believes that the passionate rekindlings are indicators of a deep bond, even if they are frequently interspersed with separations.
  • Emotions: Experiences a rush of positive emotions during reconciliations, feeling validated and desired. Feels despair and frustration during breakups, often questioning the relationship’s viability but also yearning for the highs of reunion.
  • Behaviors: Might be the one to initiate breakups when feeling overwhelmed by unresolved issues but is also quick to seek reconciliation when missing the connection. Engages in behaviors that temporarily mask or avoid underlying issues during the reunion phase, focusing on the immediate joys of being back together.
  • Rationalizations: Believes that the intensity of their emotions, both during breakups and reconciliations, is a testament to the depth of their connection with Partner B. Thinks that every reconciliation brings them closer to a stable relationship, even if the cycle continues.

The Responder:

  • Perception: Sees the relationship as unpredictable and unstable but is drawn to the emotional intensity of the reunions. Often feels caught in a loop, wanting stability but being pulled back by the allure of the passionate reconciliations.
  • Emotions: Feels a mix of relief and euphoria during reconciliations, believing that the relationship has another chance. Experiences feelings of rejection, sadness, and confusion during breakups, often ruminating on what went wrong.
  • Behaviors: Might be more hesitant during reconciliations, wanting assurances or changes, but often gets swept up in the emotional intensity. Tends to seek external advice or support during breakups, trying to make sense of the recurring pattern.
  • Rationalizations: Believes that if they can just address the recurring issues, the relationship will stabilize and the cycle will end. Considers the repeated return to each other as a sign that they are meant to be together, despite the challenges.