We are used to thinking that romantic relationships should follow a traditional, straightforward approach: Two people meet, they form a relationship and they either decide to stay together or break- up but, as we all know very well, the search for love is often a much more intricate and convoluted voyage.

Recycled relationships are cyclical: The couples break-up and then make-up, then break-up and make-up again, and this can become an emotional roller coaster in terms of feelings, passion, and intimacy and might become an obstacle when actually wanting to meet someone with long-term potential.

In fact, some evidence suggests that following a pattern of break-ups and make-ups could potentially be toxic to both the relationship and personal well-being. The more frequently couples break-up and make-up, the more their relationships tend to deteriorate.

Also, it is important to keep in mind that recycled relationships are all different.

There are two types:

  1. The capitalized-on-transitions type: When a couple makes the most out of the changing circumstances and uses them as opportunities for relationship improvement.
  2. The gradual separation type: When a couple engages in the recycling pattern with hopes and expectations which will ultimately lead to a final break-up.

Is it safe to say that recycled relationships are predisposed to failure? Why is it so common to «recycle» relationships then?

One way to look at it is that it is easier to reach out to someone you already know, especially if the breakup was not traumatic – and you miss the positive aspects of that person, you feel lonely, and are seeking relief from the void.

The problem is when we blindly believe that this time things will be different or we idealize about the past just because we are lonely, bored and in need of a distraction.

Recycled relationships can survive long-term mainly under two conditions:

  1. The relationship has to be objective and non-emotional. In other words, really see what’s there as opposed to seeing what we «choose» to see.
  2. Both parties need to be willing and able to examine their own faults with an open mind in order to revamp the relationship – solely based on the benefits of it.

How healthy are recycled relationships?

The important thing to keep in mind here is that we all want a relationship even if it is «imperfect». It is healthier and easier to be with that person with whom we have a lot in common with and that we’d like to share a future with, but the road to get there may lead to disagreements, deterioration of the relationship or ultimately a breakup.

I talked to a guy I dated a while ago the other day. I think he wants to «recycle» and start getting together again.

If this had happened a year ago, I would’ve been in trouble because I always expected something serious from potential partners.

I’ve learned the hard way to not expect that much. Most men «willing» to date these days don’t want to be in a committed relationship.

Then what’s the right answer?

I told a friend about this guy contacting me: «He is not really what I want and he is a bad boyfriend, but he could be a distraction and an outlet – and what’s the harm? After all, I am recycling. Most importantly, I am recycling with a newly updated perspective – I am objective and I can actually see all the red flags now.»

Considering everything that has happened to me in the past and with my last significant relationship, I am fearful of getting hurt again.

I allowed myself to trust the last time, and that caused me harm and heartache – which is why this «green» option sounds so appealing, even if it doesn’t represent anything long-term.

But this new perspective and this new self that has evolved out of all the pain and drama as a result of hurtful romantic relationships can potentially become a double-edged sword.

It goes against everything I truly believe in, and the reason why I’ve researched and sought help in order to understand the way I am and have been in relationships with the opposite sex.

What if I get used to this type of superficial and vapid relationships, and never allow myself to feel and be the sweet and genuine person I am?

It is definitely easier to avoid getting hurt if you date a guy with zero long-term potential.

Guys who really matter have the capability to be far more hurtful.

So, what would you do in my place? Would you recycle or not?