A yo-yo relationship is marked by instability. On one day, it looks like it might work, but on the next, it’s a disaster. The following day, there’s renewed hope that it might be okay but, in a week or so, it’s all gone wrong again. In fact, the only constant in this kind of relationship is its ups and downs.
Couples in a yo-yo relationship have arguments on a regular basis. They decide to finish and swear this time it’s forever. However, shortly after, they resume the relationship, claiming that this time it’s serious. It isn’t. That’s because there’s an ongoing debate between commitment and escape.
A yo-yo relationship is shaped by insecurity. This can inflict a great deal of damage to both members of the couple, making them feel tense and uncertain. Why does this happen? As a rule, an escape logic is imposed. This manifests itself in ways that we’ll describe below.
“When we lack a sense of past and future, the present feels like an unshaky platform, an uncertain basis for action.”
1. Using the relationship as a refuge
This happens when the relationship is used as an escape from insecurity. In effect, one partner has become a kind of father or mother figure who always understands and forgives. Therefore, they provide a protective and comforting bubble.
In reality, the partners don’t feel any adult love for each other. One of them is simply satisfying an egotistical need. Since the relationship doesn’t provide any genuine satisfaction, they try to escape. However, their insecurity ends up being stronger and they return to their safe haven.
2. Fear of intimacy
A fear of intimacy manifests itself in uncomfortable feelings. The individual wants to have their partner not too close, but not too far either. As the relationship develops, it tends to deepen, but this makes them feel like they want to escape. However, later, they fear losing their partner for good and seek closeness with them.
This configures a perfect yo-yo relationship in which the predominant note is hesitation. In fact, it’s likely that acting so ambiguously ends up precipitating a breakup. That’s because it’s exhausting for the other person to be subject to their partner’s feelings of resentment.
3. Fear of failure and escape as a solution
This is a case similar to the previous one. The difference is that the discomfort is usually due to a trauma or an issue in the relationship that hasn’t been resolved. It’s likely that the unstable partner is afraid of suffering again because they’ve had negative experiences in the past. Therefore, they anticipate that the pain will overwhelm their psychological resources and they won’t be able to deal with it.
This individual is like a moth searching for a flame. They know that they can’t get too close or they’ll burn. So, they come and go, never staying in one place for long. Escape becomes the way of managing the anguish they feel.
4. The eternal search for a better partner
It’s possible that a yo-yo relationship is due to a certain feeling of disappointment that immature couples often experience. After the first flush of falling in love, they move on to the next stage. But, they feel like the relationship no longer has the magic of before. Their partner’s flaws are more noticeable, and they may even feel a little bored.
This is when the fantastical idea that there might be something better out there begins to take shape. Something exciting that’ll help break the routine. They begin to look for that experience. This introduces instability into the relationship. They’re undecided, what are they going to do next? Maybe they’ll find something new. Or, maybe what they already have is better.
5. Fear of rejection
The fear of rejection is another factor that triggers the desire for escape in yo-yo relationships. Sometimes, the individual feels inhibited by their partner. They’re afraid that they might be ‘too much’ for them, and they fear that, at any moment, they’ll be abandoned. So, they flee themselves, with the aim of maintaining some control over the situation.
It’s also possible that one partner isn’t aware of their worth and believes that their partner will be disappointed, as soon as they discover their flaws. In this case, the fear of rejection activates instability.
Yo-yo relationships aren’t good for either partner. They both have to use many emotional resources to overcome this extreme uncertainty. In reality, it’s not worth wasting psychological energy on these kinds of games that often have no way out.
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