Breaking up can seem so final – the end of a relationship. But in some cases, breakups are just the beginning of a long pattern of breaking up and getting back together. It’s emotionally challenging and it can be confusing. But as confounding as it seems, you could be living out this pattern for four simple reasons.

Margaret Paul, Ph.D., is a relationship expert and best-selling author, who’s been featured on Oprah. Paul has helped many clients work through relationship challenges, and she’s had a chance to observe this on-again, off-again phenomenon in many couples.

According to Paul, here are some of the major reasons why couples keep breaking up and getting back together.

You’re still hopeful

Normally, an individual returns to a relationship, clinging to the hope that their partner will actually change this time. And maybe they even think that they can help them change. But only you can change yourself – you can’t change anyone else.

The vicious pull-resist cycle

In the pull-resist cycle, one individual is needy and controlling, and their partner resists and eventually has to break free. But because this pull-resist cycle is what you’re both used to, you’ll return to each other again.

Fear of being alone

Once you break up, you might try to find someone new or just go solo for a while. But if it doesn’t work out, you figure it’s best to be with your ex than to be alone. And so, you get back together.

You’re ignoring your own inner healing

We all carry some degree of emotional baggage. However, if you don’t address your issues, and ultimately heal from them, your relationship will suffer.  So, even if your relationship could work, it won’t if you’re not emotionally available for it. And this can lead couples to break up and then reunite.

Tomorrow, thousands are expected to come together throughout the US in the first-ever March For Our Lives. This march was organized at a rapid speed, thanks to the ferocity of school shooting survivors from Parkland, Florida. Their hashtag? #NEVERAGAIN. The coverline for Time Magazine? ENOUGH. It’s safe to say these young adults are the ones leading the gun control conversation. And tomorrow’s March For Our Lives is just the beginning. 

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