I’ve been involved in a handful of on-and-off again relationships. My first time on this love roller-coaster ride was at 18. I was in college and Mr. Big Man on Campus (read: player) wooed me for months. I finally caved. I strapped myself in and willingly participated in the vomit-inducing twists and turns.
That relationship wasn’t really a relationship. In hindsight, I know that now. At the time, I believed we were an item. He just needed time. He’d stop being an a-hole and become dependable. He would commit.
Our “relationship” lasted eight years, off and on. We would lose contact. I’d date other men and he other women. He’d call. We’d rekindle our love affair. He’d do something to remind me of how awful he was. And I’d end it. Tell him to leave me alone, never call and forget my name. He’d eventually call again. Apologize. Tell me to get back on the ride. And I always did.
Till this day, I wonder why I put myself in this awful and predictably inconsistent situation. He was never going to commit. If I didn’t jump off the ride, I would have remained beside him, holding my breath until the next dip. My heart would have plummeted to its death. Thank God I came to my senses.
I’ve ridden this same ride again with two other men. What can I say? When I commit to a man, I latch on and do not let go, even if I’m dangling by my fingertips from the handle bar. And I wonder, why didn’t these men commit? I was all in, why weren’t they? In on-and-off relationships, why don’t men stand on solid ground?
I asked some men and received some insight. One of my male friends was very candid and said he simply had the girl as a Plan B. That’s right, folks. The off-and-on often exists because you are his back up plan! Or, as I say, you’re on the shelf, girl.
My friend Tim had a similar reasoning. He has continued on-and-off relationships without committing “because she has some of the qualities I look for and want, but not enough of the qualities to make me want to go all in.” So, basically he’s just not sure yet.
Tim continues to explain his stance:
“I hold out hope that she grows and develops more of the qualities I appreciate and sheds the qualities I don’t like and hold me back from wanting more. But that usually never happens because people rarely ever change, so you end up in limbo where you enjoy aspects of your relationship with them but are then reminded why it doesn’t work for you.”
That’s insanely honest and relatable. How many times have I held on to an on-and-off relationship in hopes he would change? That’s why I remained with Mr. Big Man on Campus (read: player). He showed me glimpses of what could be, and I saw potential. But potential is never enough.