Thought Catalog

Yo-Yo Dating Is A Waste Of Time

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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

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    • PhermonousFan

      Saying that people don't change is just you validating your decisions.

      • Quarterlifelady

        Hmm. I think I agree with both of you. I do think people can change.  I strongly believe people grow  and often as a result, change.  But I also think going back to an unhealthy relationship four or five times is an exhausting, unhealthy pattern to get into.  That's not to say people can't change…but perhaps the relationship isn't a fit if you've tried it so many times. So I feel where you're both coming from.

      • Tim

        People do change. But if you're relying on that change for the relationship to start working, then you're fooling yourself.

    • Nicole

      Hits home. Thanks for this.

    • realitychecky

      so appropriate AND a needed helpful little slap back into reality from a break-up depression. thanks…truly.

    • Steven Timberman

      Fuck me. Best thing I've read on TC all month.

      I tend to believe in how Matthew Weiner once described change. “We make the same mistakes, but for better reasons.” I.E. We still fall into our own traps, but at least we know where they are and how best to combat them.

    • Dan K Alexander

      People do grow (change).  It's a scientific fact.

      Now, should people keep seeing each other (i.e. break-up make-up breakup) after they have already broken up.  That depends on many factors.  Each and every relationship is different.  To make this type of a blanket statement (as you have) makes you sound jaded and pathetic.  Like PHERMONOUSFAN said, it sounds like you are merely trying to validate your decision(s).  

      I am going to go out on a limb and say that you (and your ex) probably never took a REAL break in between those make-ups.  You might have split for a few months.  You might have fucked other people.  I am willing to bet that you have not taken a real break; that being, one in which you take enough time to grow without consciously (or subconsciously) attempting to grow in a direction that is (what you perceive to be) compatible with the possibility of (possibly) getting back together with your ex.

      If I have learned anything in life (especially over the last 6-12 months) it is to never say “never” and to never say “it can't get much worse than this.”  To say these things is to tempt the Gods.  For example, I have a friend who swore that she was going to be single for the rest of her life only to be moonstruck a few months later.  Even if you do not believe in irony, it believes in you.  

      You are thinking of love as a black and white thing.  Love is like a Beatles song (i.e. In My Life).  Love ebbs and flows.  Like life, love is a journey and not a destination.  

      Here is the kicker; if people never change (like you espouse), than you would still be with your ex.  There never would be a 2nd, 3rd, or 4th time.  How could there be if people do not change?

      I recently broke up with my girlfriend/fiance of 8 years.  Good people sometimes have bad behaviors (she cheated on me with a married man).  Communication breaks down.  Shit happens.  The trick to getting over it (i.e. life) is to constantly remind yourself to “live in the now.”  We get depressed if we concentrate too hard on the past or the future; we think about what we could have done differently or what we could do (future) differently.

      Accept things for what they are (i.e. serenity), and live in the now.  If you do this, should you and your ex find your paths crossing again, there will be a greater chance that things will work out.  If not, you will be too busy living in the now to notice.  

      The voice of this blog-post/essay is too angry.  It sounds like you are in the “Anger” stage of grief (The 5 Stages of Grief).  Drop the bag of emotional bricks and start living in the now.  Make short-term goals and focus on them (i.e. working on yourself).  Writing shit like this will not help you.  Writing shit like this will only help you justify being/becoming a jaded bitch.

      It's not too late.  My heart is with you.  I wish you luck.

      • Eli_Ash

        I had to laugh at this a little because, understandably, you made many assumptions about me and jumped to many conclusions.  All of which are entirely false.  But we are interweb strangers, how could you know?

        No harm there, honestly. I will point out I am not jaded nor a bitch. I am sometimes an ass hole, yes, but bitchy and bluntness are two different swords.

        I'm not anti-love and I actually agree with and adore your reference of the Beatles song– what a beautiful sentiment. Love is it's own beast, love is not something quantifiable or explainable. But this post isn't about love, per se, but about human interaction and reaction and repetition of mistake. Every situation is different, yes, but more often than not, yo-yo dating is not good for either party. I still think that's a pretty fair assesment.

        I agree that blanket statements of black and white  are not realistic, but when writing, especially editorially, it is more condusive to any argument you are making to have strong verbaige.  If I wrote “people, most of the time, but occassionally very rarely do, but still usually don't change in relationships” would it have the same impact?

        I don't think so. I was trying to make a point about the essence of forcing something to work so much that you lose sight of yourself and what you really want and continually stumble into an abusive cycle.  I didn't intially intend to come of sardonically, but reading it back now, I see where you're coming from.  It's hard to convey tone, but I find more often than not, we derive tone from our peceptions usually based on how we are personally feeling, especially toward what is being written.

        I wont  jump to conclusions and judge you, being a total stranger, so I'll leave it at that. But I am sorry about what happened with you and your ex, monogamy it seems has become a commodity.

    • Rae

      Ironically, this article was cyclical and should have ended after the first point was made instead of coming back to it again and again.

    • annabanana

      changing or learning whatever you want to call it. the point is people's actions ARE DIFFERENT as a result.

    • Dano Bowman

      People can't change the past. People can't change the future if they depend on the past to do so. To deny that people have control over the present is to deny that people have free will.
      It takes a strong person to change their ways, but it happens. We are only as dominated by the past as we allow ourselves to be. Some people's pasts are more difficult to escape than others.

      Escaping the past doesn't mean running from it. It means staring ti right in the face and accepting it. Yes this made you, but it doesn't own you anymore. You're better off. You're free. So stop being so goddamn ridiculous.

    • Duke Holland of Gishmale

      This is the biggest piece of shit I have ever read on Thought Catalog. I can only hope, pray, plead with some external force out there that Thought Catalog, albeit not human, will change and no longer let you write such garbage for them.

      • Duke Holland of Gishmale

        I wrote that and immediately regretted it. I'm sorry, I don't mean to discourage you. And angry people sucks ass. Again sorry. But, seriously, I do think this is garbage.

        • Seriously?

          you need to chill the fuck out.

    • Deb

      To disagree with Pat Benatar is to lose at life. Love IS a battlefield.
      Love is not a car battery, a sandwich, a drunk, or a serial killer. Neither is dating.

      Love and dating are all about change and growing. It's not some idyllic scenario where everything just works. If we're not growing and learning and changing then we're not living. Comparing the passion of two people trying to make it work to psychopaths and addicts comes across with the cynicism of a lonely spinster hardened by a life of unrequited love, my dear Miss Havisham.

      • Eli_Ash

        You're the same person who found half a sentence to barate in my last article.  Nice job trolling.

        Alas, I am neither lonely, a spinster or pierced with unrequieted love. But go ahead and jump to false assumptions about a complete stranger. That makes total sense. You have me completely figured out.

        Again, you completely missed the metaphor and point of the article, so here, let me break it down for you:

        It's about breaking from abusive cycles when a relationship has become unhealthy. I explain stalking and lack of passion as two examples in a miriad of what could be considered unhealthy. I suggest that rather than forcing an unstable situation to work, you should look in yourself to find what you really want, need and deserve.

        I also never made any claims that love was easy or that you should never fight. In fact, this article is NOT about love or how to love or what defines love or right and wrongs of the heart. It's about yo-yo dating in an abusive situation.

        I really hadn't considered someone taking these metaphors literally, it's rather amusing, actually.

        • mopey P

          One of the biggest warning signs that my last relationship wasn't salvageable was that we got benetar-ed. We were opponents instead of a team, and it was unhealthy.

          Nothing wrong with putting in a little work and fighting to save something, but when you realize that you two are no longer fighting against internal (my own bad habits) or external (money problems) demons, and you are now fighting/distrustful of/feeling alienated from your partner himself, it's probably time to cut your losses.

          (I can tell myself this but omg your addiction metaphor is so good. It is so hard to stop!)

        • Eli_Ash

          Thank you!!! This is the the point I was trying to make :)

          You are a team, not opponents– that is a GREAT analogy.

        • Deb

          I just really like Pat Benatar.

      • edoans

        God Pat Benatar fucking rocked.

        • Deb

          Watch your tenses – she rocks, as in presently. That bitch is still touring.

    • Heather

      Sorry to bust y'all's bubbles of ideal life, but sex always diminishes after the first year in relationships.  It's  not a sign that you're with the wrong person, it's just what happens.  Lust cannot sustain a relationship.  I read somewhere once that sex is like a pantry. When you're single, you have an empty pantry, so when a free meal comes your way or you get stocked up for the first time in awhile, you devour the food with intense passion.  When you're in a relationship, your pantry is always full, you know food is there if you need it, so you take it for granted and don't eat from it as often (hence saying “there is nothing to eat” a lot when an entire pantry of food you've neglected is waiting for you).   So stop neglecting your pantries and calling it not true love.  Dive in and eat up, people, and stop being so goddamn selfish and self-absorbed.

      • Eli_Ash

        I agree that sex and lust do not sustain. I was trying to make a point about sexless relationships though. Not that you need to have sex every day or hour or week. But that if you're sexually starved or finding there is no longer a sexual attraction or passion, there might be a problem.  Sexless relationships tend to be a sign of deeper problems– infidelity among many. This is not my made up idea, it's actually a very common and accepted opinion.

    • Justin

      I just wanted to say thanks. Your jelly analogy put everything into perspective for me for a situation that I'm going through right now and, honestly, I really needed that.

    • Guest

      What is the point of this article? were you in an abusive relationship? a friend? it feels like mastabutory filler to validate yourself to yourself.

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    • Justin

      There are definitely some people that refuse to acknowledge flaws and weaknesses in themselves, and those people will, like you said, never change.  Some people lack the skill to introspect and truly see themselves.  However, I do believe many people can evolve.  It depends on the person.

      I also strongly believe that in a relationship, if it is the right person, they won’t cause you to act so crazy, and they’ll bring out the better parts of you.  I think the majority of “crazies” that are constantly snooping behind their partners back are just with the wrong person.

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