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How to Stop Going Back and Forth in Your Relationship

The only thing worse than you going back and forth in your relationship is when your partner can’t decide if he wants to be with you. Here’s how to make a decision about your relationship, how to stop going back and forth, and how to find peace with the decision you make.

stop going back and forth“I knew I was in a toxic relationship and part of our problem was that we kept going back and forth” says Kayla in 10 Tips for Breaking Free From Toxic Relationships. “I recently ended it but I still live in the hope that he will come back. I know my boyfriend was wrong for me because I was being verbally abused more often than not and I know that this is not how a relationship should be. I feel hurt and all alone and pathetic because even after everything, I still want him to come back. How do I stop going back and forth in my relationship?”

Sometimes we can’t let go of unhealthy relationships simply because they’re habit forming. It’s easier to stay in a relationship – or keep going back and forth – than to make a final, life-changing decision. Below, I share a few ideas on how to stop going back and forth in your relationship – and how to break free for good.


How to Stop Going Back and Forth

This is where you need to start doing a little digging. The only person who knows what you really need to do with your life and your relationship is you.

What’s holding you back from living free and true? Why do you keep going back and forth in your relationship? Stop and think about it. Don’t rush through this article without taking time to look within.

Listen for that still small voice within you. You will find your way if you stop and pay attention to what’s going on inside you.

Ask yourself if going “back and forth” is normal for you

It is for me! I have a hard time making decisions because I can see the pros and cons of both choices. Whether I’m trying to decide what to eat at a restaurant or who to marry, I tend to go back and forth. How do I stop? I don’t. I simply allow myself to go back and forth a few times…and then I settle on the decision that feels right.

If you tend to see the benefits and drawbacks of two different options – such as staying in a relationship or breaking up – you may go back and forth more readily. Just knowing this about yourself will take you a step further. Relax, and accept your ability to see both sides of the coin. Realize that this affects your ability to make a decision about your relationship.

Go into the wilderness of your intuition

In How to Decide When to Leave a Relationship, I shared the Parable of the Coconut. The bottom line is that before the Princess Warrior could quench her thirst, she had to let the cloudy liquid in the coconut settle. She didn’t fret or eat a pound of chocolate or charge up her credit cards with online purchases…she just waited.

How to Stop Going Back and Forth in Your Relationship

How to Stop Going Back and Forth in Your Relationship

Give yourself time to leave the city of your comfort, and go into the wilderness of your intuition.

Set aside your anxious thoughts about your future. Stop searching for tips on how to stop going back and forth in your relationship.

Instead, give your mind and emotions time to settle. Step back. Take a deep breath. Allow yourself to accept what you haven’t wanted to believe, to face what you’ve been avoiding.

You may already know what you should do. The trick is admitting it to yourself, and sticking with your decision.


Take a step back from your relationship

When you’re in the throes of the emotions and intimacy of a relationship – and the desire to be attached, to belong, to be in love – you may be too involved to make a wise decision. One of the best tips for how to stop going back and forth is to adopt a long-term perspective of your relationship.

Look at the big picture. Is your relationship helping you become your best self? Does your partner encourage you to be true, authentic, and real?

“At the moment we’re choosing, it helps us attain some distance on the choice,” says Chip Heath, author of Decisive: How to Make Better Choices in Life and Work. “Take a broader perspective. Very often we get locked into the weeds of a decision and find it agonizing to make a choice between two good alternatives. But what we’re not thinking about necessarily is the broader picture of where we want to go as an individual.”

Set your feelings aside

Fear, insecurity, doubt, loneliness, heartbreak and even terror are natural emotions you’ll feel if you break up with someone you love. You may also feel those emotions if you decide to stay with your partner! Breaking up is hard…and so is saving your relationship. That’s why it’s difficult for you to stop going back and forth about your relationship. Both options – to stay or leave – require attention, time, and self-awareness.

When you’re making a decision about your relationship, set your feelings aside. Be aware of how you feel, yes, but don’t allow your feelings to dictate your choices. For example, you may feel afraid at the thought of letting go of this person. But the fact that you feel fear doesn’t mean you should stay in the relationship. Fear is an indication of change, of a new situation, of life shifting and you growing.

Don’t allow your feelings to dictate your decisions. Get all your feelings out by writing, exercising, talking, or creating interesting works of art. Express your feelings, and then set them aside.

Listen to that still small voice

Deep down, you already know what to do. You know what the best decision is for you and your loved ones. You may be scared to admit it, or worried about the effect your decision will have on others’ lives. Maybe you’re terrified at the thought of starting over.

Take a deep breath. Sit quietly. Let yourself discover why you keep going back and forth in your relationship…and ask yourself what you need to do with your life. Admit your fears and anxieties, your insecurities and weaknesses. Allow yourself to feel your emotions – but don’t follow your feelings over the edge. They’ll take you to hell, and they won’t want to bring you back.

What to Do Next

how to stop relationship back and forthLearn more by reading Decisive: How to Make Better Choices in Life and Work by Chip and Dan Heath – especially if you aren’t comfortable making decisions. The more you know, the more clearly you’ll see why you keep going back and forth in your relationship. You may even learn how to stop following your emotions and start listening to your intuition.

Read 7 Tips for Letting Go of Toxic Relationships, especially if you know you’re going back and forth because you shouldn’t be with this person.

Take time to think about why you’re going back and forth in your relationship. What’s holding you back, and how you can get out of your own way? Know that you are wiser and more courageous than you think.

“You have to leave the city of your comfort and go into the wilderness of your intuition. What you’ll discover will be wonderful. What you’ll discover is yourself.” – Alan Alda.

While I can’t offer advice or tell you how to stop going back and forth in your relationship, I do read every comment. I encourage you to respond to other readers’ comments if you feel led, and to share your experience. Writing often brings clarity and insight, and can help you process your feelings.


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11 thoughts on “How to Stop Going Back and Forth in Your Relationship”

  1. great article Laurie…my life’s a mess because i can’t let go. i and my boyfriend have been dating for almost 3 years and hes hit me once but i still went back to him…he almost hit me a 2nd time and i still went back again…hes very insecure and has trust issues,basically dats all we fight about…and now i finally make up my mind to end things again but i’m doubting myself…i don’t know how to be alone again and i fear i won’t find someone better and i dread getting to know someone all over again…he keeps saying he’ll be better for me but i really don’t want him anymore…why can’t i just leave and never turn back? i’m so exhausted

  2. I hope Someone has some advice for me.
    I live In Colorado with my boyfriend, and my boyfriend is now my ex. So I have to move out because he lives with his parents. I am pondering going to Texas with my family or living in an apartment here in Colorado. My ex wants to work on himself and says he wants to be more mature and start fresh with me if I stay. I think the beginning of our relationship was wonderful and I was happy but I also Think he will never move out of his parents house.. he wants me to sign a lease and eventually after he works on himself come stay with me but not pay rent just help out each month when he can. He has lots of medical bills.. what should I do..

  3. Whichever way you choose, just TRY to stick with it… even if it is somehow wrong – you will learn from it.

  4. Sometimes I feel as though the “gut feeling” is the only concrete clue I get as to why I know my back and forth relationship isn’t right for me. And it’s tormenting because I want to tell myself that i still want to make it work. The more I try to be logical about it, the less it makes sense.

  5. Sometimes you just have to go with your gut feeling. Your heart may hurt and you’ll suffer through the grieving process, but the best way to stop going back and forth in your relationship is to trust your gut. You know deep down the right thing to do. The hard part is actually doing it.

  6. I been in a long term relationship for 8 years with my girlfriend and I have 3 kids with her. She was putting me down a lot and it was pushing me away. I ended up meeting a beautiful girl at work and done things with her. But she’s married but she’s no with him shes not divorced but they don’t even live together she’s just not go a divorce yet. Her husband got her to slip up and he messaged my girl and told her there for making her wanting to be done. So I did to but she also begged me a few days later to stay and get counseling with her to try and help and stay together for the kids amd I just said no. I started being around the new girl way more and everything was great until my parents or my ex messaged me and for me upset. I ended up staying at my parents and getting it in worrying that I’d help my ex in anyway. Let her live at my house for a year til she can get a job and her own place and I would give her my van when she got her license. Well after all this. I ended up feeling bad and going back to my house when I got off work and stayed there and ended up doing stuff with my ex which now has the new girl mad at me and not wanting really anything to do with me so she says yet won’t stop messaging me so I know she still wants to be with me. But I just dont know what to do anymore. I feel like I want one one minute and the other three next.

  7. My boyfriend asked me if I could stop going back and forth. I asked him what he meant because I have no idea!!!! And he still hasn’t answered me…..

  8. Hello there. This article really spoke to me. I’ve been with my boyfriend for a little over a year. From the start I didn’t think things were working out. He seemed a little too smart and arrogant. Though we shared all the same views. So I continued on and tried as much as I could. He says I killed it from the start by saying I didn’t necessarily want him talking to girls. I was still growing and I now have more control over my jeoulosy. He says things that just really get to me. He says it’s all my fault. I know the majority of it is but some of it is his fault. I just feel really alone in this relationship. I can’t have friends. Anytime I’m on my cell phone he gets huffy and tries to look. The last time we broke up he thought I was talking to someone else. I just feel like I need to work on myself and be alone. I don’t know what to do. We are currently living in his van and we are states away from home. Its hard to not be scared and let emotions take control to make me want to stay. Everyone except my mom wants me to leave him. She is the only reason I keep going back to him honestly. I would love any advice you all have. Thank you for taking the time to read. I feel helpless.

  9. Dang girl. Well said. After re reading your post about going back and forth in a relationship several times I pondered over whether your message was meant for me. Then I noticed the date you posted it. June 7–> my bday. Sigh*

  10. I am dealing with a relationship that has lasted almost 4 years…me and him have pretty much grown up together… I met him freshman year of high school and we are just about 3 months away from graduating….he has had gone on and off about wanting to be single and live his life..talking to other girls and just live his life. But literally every time that he has brought that up…he has came back to me saying that he can’t do that to me…that he just loves me waaaay to much …and that I have had such an impact on his life ever since I stepped in. He loves with this life long disease called cystic fibrosis and on top of that he is adopted…so he has a lot on his plate. We have decided to take a break for like a month or so…..so that we can have time to think…..and I have no idea of what I should do when that day comes when we meet up and talk about were we are in life and what we have learned for the past month … .ik he loves me and he knows that I love him….but he is just always saying that he doesn’t deserve me ….and that breaks my heart every time …..so I just need some advice in this situation.

  11. Sometimes when you have been with one person, shared your sole with that person and have lived your life with that person for a long period of time, you feel that you have already invested so much into the relationship, that to simply walk away would mean you had wasted your time. I know deep down inside, that I need to make a change, that my life has become a prison of my own making and that I allow these bars of emotion to remain around me. I am afraid to ask him to leave, I am afraid to face the World alone. I dream of a day, when I can open my eyes in the morning and feel free, happy and content with myself. How did I allow 10 years to pass, whilst all the time knowing that I was letting a small piece of myself die each day. I have let this happen. Maybe I never thought I was worth anything more, I hate the way I feel about myself. It’s time I took control, stopped making excuses and dealt with this breakup once and for all.