Research finds that rekindling a romance often extinguishes a couple’s happiness

Amber Vennum

Amber Vennum, assistant professor of family studies and human services at Kansas State University, is studying couples in cyclical relationships — the term used for a couple who breaks up and then gets back together. She is looking at why couples reunite and how it affects the relationship.

While movies, books and TV shows may portray rekindling a relationship as romantic, Vennum found that the results of getting back together were less than desirable.

Findings showed that couples in a cyclical relationship tended to be more impulsive about major relationship transitions — like moving in together, buying a pet together or having a child together — than those not in a cyclical relationship. As a result, the couples in cyclical relationships tended to be less satisfied with their partner; had worse communication; made more decisions that negatively affected the relationship; had lower self-esteem; and had a higher uncertainty about their future together.

Roughly 40 percent of college-age people are in a cyclical relationship.

Read more about Vennum’s study, including how premarital cyclicality effects marriages.

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