From Shakespeare to situation comedies, audiences love to cheer on couples who struggle to say together. Overcoming feuding families, treacherous old flames, and conflicting emotions seems to prove that they’re made for each other.

However, in real life, off-and-on relationships can take a heavy toll on your wellbeing and happiness.

That’s the conclusion from a recent study by the University of Missouri in Columbia. They found that couples who make up and break up repeatedly experience higher rates of abuse, poorer communication, and lower levels of commitment.

If you’re stuck in a cyclical relationship, there are many things you can do to create positive changes. Try these tips for building a more sustainable connection or making a clean break.

Stabilizing Your Off-and-On Relationship

Some cyclical relationships are worth saving. See if you and your partner have the potential to develop a more harmonious future together.

Consider these strategies:

  1. Make deliberate choices. Temporary separations can sometimes be beneficial. That’s especially true when you discuss the arrangements with your partner and make conscious plans for using your time apart to address recurring issues and focus on your own growth.
  2. Resolve conflicts. Do you or your partner respond to disagreements by withdrawing instead of talking with each other? Handling conflicts directly will help you learn to negotiate your differences and cooperate with each other.
  3. Build communication skills. Communication is vital to any relationship, and you can enhance your skills at any age. Practice how to listen attentively, use collaborative language, and discuss sensitive subjects.
  4. Take care of yourself. A healthy relationship starts with making yourself a top priority. You’ll be more attractive and resilient if you eat a balanced diet, exercise regularly, and sleep well.
  5. Maintain your identity. While your partner can be an important source of strength and support, it’s important to take responsibility for yourself. Stay connected with your family and friends and hold yourself accountable for the consequences of your actions.
  6. Seek counseling. Relationship counseling can give you new insights and options on how to deal with issues you find challenging. You may deepen your understanding of your relationship and yourself.

Ending Your Off and On Relationship

On the other hand, you and your partner may be fundamentally incompatible. Recognize when it’s time to move on and look for love elsewhere.

Try this process:

  1. Evaluate your situation. Be honest about whether your relationship can fulfill your needs. Breaking up can sometimes be the kindest thing you can do for yourself and your partner.
  2. Think long term. It may seem easier to stay together for now but imagine what your life will be like if you continue on the same path. When you feel sad about saying goodbye, consider the advantages of having less stress in your life and being able to pursue other opportunities.
  3. Accept responsibility. Ending a relationship can be educational. Recognize your part in what happened and identify patterns that you want to change.
  4. Take your time. Being prepared can help. Rehearse what you’re going to say to your partner. Reach out to supportive friends and plan activities that will help you to get through the first stages of your separation.
  5. Be respectful. Remember that this is a difficult time for your partner as well as yourself. Try to terminate the relationship in a way that will cause as little ill feeling as possible. It usually helps to talk face to face and give them a chance to express their feelings too.

You deserve a committed and loving relationship that strengthens your sense of security and gives you a partner to help you manage the ups and downs in life. Turn your off-and-on relationship around or give each other the opportunity to make a new start.