According to a recent study, reconciling with your ex might be a bad idea. In other news, the sky is blue and there is a war in the Middle East.

But seriously: Amber Vennum, a professor of family studies at Kansas State University, just published her research on couples in what she calls “cyclical relationships.” The findings were, well, entirely predictable. Let’s review:

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  • Cyclical relationships are most common among college-aged kids, 40% of whom report involvement in an on-again/off-again thing.
  • People in cyclical relationships tend to have lower self-esteem and higher uncertainty about their future together than people in, shall we say, “unabridged” relationships.
  • The top two reasons people try to fix a broken romance: A) they believe their partner has changed for the better or B) the status of the relationship is ambiguous to one or both parties.
  • Marriages preceded by patterns of cyclicality tend to be less stable than those that aren’t. Further proof of Newton’s First Law (“An object in motion tends to stay in motion”).
  • Vennum’s groundbreaking conclusion from all this: “Don’t get back together.”

No surprise about college-aged kids showing the highest propensity for the so-called “cyclical relationship.” Letting go of your first (or second or third) love is never easy. On top that, you probably share the same group of friends/Thirsty Thursday bar of choice/tendency to get blackout and impulsively reconcile.

Related: 10 Secret Perks of Going Through a Break-Up

I think the greatest takeaway here lies in Vennum’s findings on how people end up in cyclical relationships in the first place. Namely, that they often result when the terms of the relationship are unclear to one or both partners. Breaking up with someone is never easy. Being the bad guy/girl has been known to provoke nasty criticisms, a considerable amount of guilt, and in some cases, a black eye or two. But ambiguously breaking up with someone (or, worse yet, waiting for them to break up with you) is not a productive course of action. Unbearable though it may seem, walking away from a bad situation will invariably benefit you both in the long run.


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