Thought Catalog
June 10, 2011

Yo-Yo Dating Is A Waste Of Time

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What is the issue?

People don’t change.  We are conditioning ourselves from childhood into habits and behaviors that define us—those trademarks that deduce who we are from the rest of the playground.  It’s not that we’re the same person we were in grade school so much as it is the bones of our response system, our fears, loves, hates, desires, reactions—how we handle things, those are built into us.

I’m not psychologist or anthropologist or sociologist or any ologist for that matter, but I am human and observant and I think it’s pretty damn obvious: we don’t change.  Be it nature or nurture, who knows. But some things are obvious when it comes to personality and behavior. We see it in ourselves as much as those around us, and the older we get, the more evident it becomes.

It’s like the kid who likes to kill small animals and grows up to be a serial killer.  He had the makings from the beginning, there are signs and triggers and before you know it, he’s slicing and dicing bitches like a damn hamburger warehouse. And there’s the fad dieters who can’t control their food addictions, the ones who manage to lose weight and keep it off for a mere blink before traipsing back into their fat pants.  Or the drug addicts who bounce in and out of rehab with the same addled response to giving up the junk.

We are creatures of habit, we tend to get set in our ways and despite how much you try to bend them, the majority of us cannot subside our basic makeup and response system.

One of the more common times I have seen this behavior, cyclical and wasteful, is with yo-yo dating. You know those couples who just can’t get it together? They break up, they make up, they fight, they separate and it’s just this annoying repetition. Those folks need to accept this concept most of all: your partner is not changing any more than you are.

If that person is crazy obsessive and hacks your email accounts and requests your phone logs and stalks your Facebook and instills an overall sense of fear in you—that’s not going away. That person is crazy. And no matter how many times you take them back and however long they manage to mask it, the crazy is lingering, waiting to come out again. They aren’t going to magically become understanding or respectful of your privacy or trustful of you.  They are going to find a way to hack your shit again and keep tabs on you. And that’s not healthy. No one should feel the need to do that to their partner. It’s unnecessary and a blatant sign of dangerous obsession. Be wary of someone who wants to control you that much.

Or if you’re lacking passion and sex and lust for each other, once that reconciled honeymoon is over, the same separation and same lackluster draw catches right back up. If someone doesn’t have a sexual energy with you, it’s not going to magically appear.  Generally, this lack of passion is a big warning sign for deeper problems; it’s a tangible expression of other fault lines in your relationship.  And it shouldn’t ever be used as a bargaining measure: “I promise I will have more sex with you.”  There’s probably a lot more going on with that person and their sexual history and it’s not a fair tool of coercion.

Sex is fun and natural, but if it’s not coming naturally with your partner, there’s something more going wrong there—and sex isn’t something you should do because you feel obligated. We should enjoy sex and have fun with it and want to do it, not use it like some commodity or trade.  When you’re with someone, you either are sexually passionate and compatible or you’re not.  And if the sex is dying within the first year—that’s usually a big red flag about a lot more issues you may be ignoring.

Again, people don’t change. Not in any long-term sense.  Sometimes we’re good at faking it for a while—hence the “honeymoon” phase when you get back together again for the 5th time.  You’re both putting on that show again like most people do in the beginning of any relationship.  It’s that faux period of time when you’re high on the idea of what you can pretend to be—but give it a couple months and you’ll see it all falling back into the same trend as before.

So again, you break up. And isn’t it fun to keep breaking up with someone? Maybe we need to start realizing that breakups are ok and normal and happen with everyone until you find that someone you might want to be with for a lifetime.

If you gave it a shot, a genuine, fair chance, there’s nothing to be ashamed of when it fails.  It’s understandable that most people will go for a second chance—you know, just to be sure. But why do you need to keep tormenting each other with 5th and 6th chances only to have the same thing play out? It’s like having a dead battery in your car, you can jump start it as many times as you want, but it’s still a dead battery. It’s still going to fail on you, and it’s not like you’ll be shocked, you’ll have expected it.  So I say get a new battery and throw that old greasy, rusty, faulty motherfucker away.

If it didn’t work the first four tries, if there are some seriously big strains on the relationship, or if your ex is a psychobitch, maybe you both just need to accept that it’s never going to end with the shiny happy ending of a romantic comedy. Whatever it was that broke you up before, will break you up again, and chances are, you’re just collecting more and more reasons each time. People don’t change.

It’s hard to find someone, it is lonely being single, and it’s easy to fall back into patterns, because we just don’t like to evolve emotionally sometimes. We naturally seem to resist change, most of us.  But at some point, you have to realize enough is enough.  Love isn’t a battlefield and there is a difference between normal and healthy relationships. We know when someone is bad for us innately.  We should have been able to learn by now that you can love someone and they can be a wrecking ball in your life and cause you more torment than happiness. It doesn’t mean you don’t love them or that there wasn’t meaning to those 5 or 6 times you tried. But that you ultimately aren’t a good fit. And no matter how much you dress it up each time, you’re never getting that square peg into that round hole.

People don’t change.  Give yourselves a break and move on with your lives. No sense in running in circles.  It’s a lot like a substance abuse problem, you need to get sober. You can’t expect to be able to drink and not want to get drunk. You can’t expect to get drunk and not have it fuck up your sobriety and everything else in your life. Sometimes you have to be sober of each other.

You need to take enough steps back to see that you really want grape jelly on your PB&J and that for some reason you keep taking the strawberry again and again. Maybe because it’s right there and easy to reach and already been opened.  But the strawberry is never going to magically change into the grape you want and need to make you salivate. So throw that strawberry jam away and go get yourself some grape. TC mark

image – XuliánConX