A Roller Coaster of Love: Examining Perceptions of Intimacy, Commitment, and Satisfaction in On-again, Off-again Relationships
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On-again, off-again relationships, dating relationships in which the partners that have broken up and renewed at least once (Dailey, Pfiester, Jin, Beck, & Clark, 2009a) are becoming common alternatives to the traditional non-cyclical style of dating relationships. More and more individuals are returning to previous relational partners to give the relationship another chance. Approximately twenty percent of people are likely to participate in on-again, off-again relationships at some point in their lives (Dailey, et al.). Despite the growing numbers of participation in this type of relationship, little is known about how individuals communicate within these relationships.
Research about on-again, off-again relationships suggests that individuals who participate in these types of relationships have different experiences than individuals that participate in traditional non-cyclical relationships (Dailey, Hampel, Roberts, accepted; Dailey et al., 2009a). Since research has examined on-again, off-again relationships as a whole, it is necessary to study the individual characteristics of an on-again, off-again relationship.
The present study surveyed 227 people who were currently or previously involved in an on-again, off-again relationships. Participants completed an online questionnaire designed to assess attachment style, perceptions of intimacy, commitment, and satisfaction before and after a renewal of the relationship, and desire for reconciliation.
Results suggest that attachment style was associated for differences in intimacy before and after a renewal, and satisfaction after a renewal of an on-again, off-again relationship. Specifically, preoccupied and fearfully attached individuals experienced significant differences in regard to intimacy before a renewal. Secure and fearfully attached individuals experienced intimacy and satisfaction in the post-reconciliatory phase significantly different. Further, intimacy and commitment seem to influence the desire for reconciliation that on-again, off-again partners experience in their relationship.