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

4 - Types and Trajectories of On-Again/Off-Again Relationships


Relationships research has used typologies and dimensional approaches to characterize relationships. Research has similarly sought to characterize on-off relationships using types, dimensions, and trajectories. Five types of on-off relationships are reviewed; some showing constructive patterns or closure, whereas others exhibit incongruencies, and even coercion and control. On-off relationships also exhibit varying trajectories. For example, despite inherently experiencing multiple breakups and renewals, only half of on-off partners reported fluctuations in their commitment to the relationship. In addition, the different types and trajectories suggest that fluctuations in relationship dynamics might not necessarily be distressing to these partners. Overall, these various characterizations of cyclical relationships show they follow a diversity of paths that entail different dynamics.