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.
“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.
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
Learn 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.
Is your relationship in trouble? Get 7 Steps to Fixing Your Marriage from relationship coach Mort Fertel. It's free and helpful, no strings attached.
Need encouragement? Sign up for my weekly "Echoes of Joy" email - it's free, short, and energizing. Like me!