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  • Print publication year: 2019
  • Online publication date: December 2019

2 - Differences from Non-Cyclical Relationships


Much of the research on on-again/off-again relationships shows they are different from non-cyclical relationships. This chapter organizes the differences found into three sections: relationship evaluations, communication dynamics, and structural factors. The first section details how on-off partners have lower levels of love, less satisfaction, and more relational uncertainty, particularly while dating (as compared to when they are in a post-dissolution phase). The second section outlines how on-off partners use less relationship maintenance, engage in more disclosure as well as topic avoidance, and also exhibit more conflict and aggression. The third section focuses on structural, external, or sociological factors. For example, on-off relationships are more likely to be long-distance and are somewhat less likely to garner support from their friends and family. In addition, partners in these cyclical relationships are more likely to have experienced economic and employment hardships; yet, children of cycling parents might gain certain benefits. Overall, the research consistently shows that on-off partners have lower relational quality and experience certain external factors that might either produce or perpetuate their cycling.