Decoding tricky relationships

Oct 08, 2013, 09:28 IST | Soma Das

Are they dating, are they not? This question could easily sum up many modern-day relationships, be it among the stars in Hollywood or with Mumbai's urban folk. The vicious cycle of fights, break-ups and patching up goes on, at times, for years until the final denouement. The Guide gets experts and celebrities to comment on yo-yo relationships

Relationships have never been simple and in today’s day and age, it’s even more fraught with complication. The gossip columns are frequently abuzz with reports of celebrities hooking-up, then sparring, breaking the ties and then coming back for an encore. The situation is the same, whether it is in Hollywood where speculations of turmoil were rife between Miley Cyrus and Liam Hemsworth (and eventually, they called off their engagement) or among B-town celebs who often date, separate unsure of their status and get back together again.

Yo-yo and more
Psychiatrist and Marriage Counsellor Dr Rajiv Anand observes that most people in such push-pull relationships find themselves being shortchanged or being given less. “These days, almost every second relationship is on the verge of breakdown as the expected time, energy and emotions do not come forth on a regular basis. Everybody has too many friends, social acquaintances, contacts on mobile messengers and thus less and less time to nourish a relationship.”

Adding weight to this observation is Psychotherapist and Behaviour Skills Specialist H’vovi Bhagwagar who reveals that such cases have become common; she gets an average of 2-3 cases per week: “In yo-yo relationships, one of the partners is more commitment phobic than the other. It’s rare to see both partners equally playing hot and cold.”

She cites the recent case of a couple that dated since college and had spent eight years together. They set their wedding date twice but they get cold feet each time the date comes up. “They end up fighting bitterly right before the wedding date, and then call it off, only to reunite a couple of months later. They are currently in therapy after their marriage date was set up for the third time. Again, both of them began quarrelling. This couple is stable in almost every other area of their life: successful careers, high bracket salaries, great friends circle, etc.

They come from a traditional upbringing though and feel rebellious when asked to commit,” shares Bhagwagar. According to her, such confusing relationships are closely linked with attachment issues with parents in childhood. “Parents (especially mothers) who alternate between ignoring the child and then showering them with attention produce an adult confused about intimate relationships.

Usually, they have issues with self-acceptance and fear of commitment. Such behaviour is also associated with personality disorders such as Obsessive Compulsive Disorder,” she states, adding that other factors such as a stressful lifestyle, a more successful female partner and less time together worsens the behaviour of a person with self-acceptance issues. “If the pattern has recurred more than twice, it’s time to call it off, explore a new relationship and work through the unhealthy feelings left over from the earlier one,” she opines.

Fast love
Dr Anand blames such behaviour on a pattern of fast liking and falling into love based on attraction at a physical level. Comparing them to the equivalent of fast food where people want instant emotional satiation and lack open communication, he states, “Such relationships are not the lasting ones. They are convenient arrangements. Life is increasingly becoming stressful and both partners find it difficult to manage, thus unresolved stress and tension come in the way of intimate communication.” Women’s financial independence is coming in a big way as a threat to the depth of the relationship. Women find it easier to manage their life on their own, thus feeling the comfort of less dependence on the husband and this leads to arguments, aggression and intolerance, which hurts a typical male ego, thus putting strain on the relationship, the doctor maintains. Bhagwagar recounts several cases where couples start off well and then suddenly, one partner starts feeling claustrophobic or the couple decides to stick to an open relationship to keep other options open.

What celebs say
Monica Dogra, Singer

I haven’t been in an on-off relationship; I guess I’m quite the black-and-white type. I also detach very easily, I’ve been told that that’s a bit of a problem within me. Comfort and complacency is what leads to an on-off relationship. Knowing that something is not right and parts of you are unfulfilled leads to breaking up, but it’s the fear of the unknown and the comfort of what one is used to that leads to getting back together. Maybe we are so used to variety and immediate satiation that it is tough for us to wait or settle for experiencing one thing.

Shiv Pandit, Actor
I haven’t personally gone through this but, of course, I have seen people breaking up and patching up repeatedly around me. The biggest factor behind it is insecurity and a lack of clarity. People forget sometimes as to why they actually got into the relationship in the first place. Everyone seems to be running after so many different things that they lose focus in the bargain. Hence, communication becomes lesser, which adds complications to the relationship. Having expectations in a relationship will mostly lead to disappointment. One should take each day as it comes and if issues arise, ensure that they are completely resolved. 

It's possible!
>> Decide to communicate openly and honestly about your feelings.
>> Set clear limits such as, ‘You do the push-pull stuff again and the relationship is off for good’.
>> Explore the option of seeking couple’s therapy.

Stars with on-off relationship tags

Miley Cyrus and Liam Hemsworth

Selena Gomez qand Justin Bieber

Megan Fox and Brian Austin Green. Pics/ AFP

Katrina Kaif and Ranbir Kapoor

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