I am unhappy with my relationship with my boyfriend. We keep on breaking up and getting back together. Why does this happen, and what should I do? ? Stuck in Towers

This is a very common problem. We are at an age where we are still discovering who we are. When it comes to relationships, people have different goals and attitudes. These can conflict or not be reciprocated.

There are two major reasons why people linger in relationships in which they are not exactly blissful. One is the idea of comparison level and the other is the theory of attachment.

According to the interdependence theory, each of us has our own distinctive comparison level (CL), which describes the value of the outcomes that we believe we deserve in dealings with our partners. This level comes from past experience, and it is on what we base our satisfaction (Brehm, 2002).

Whether or not we are happy, we also have a comparison level for alternatives (CLalt). This describes the outcomes we can receive by leaving our current relationships and moving to the best alternative partnership or situation available.

When we put our outcome, comparison level and comparison level for alternatives together, we can make a prediction about the strength of the relationship. It seems like in your case, your CL is lower then your outcome, but your CLalt is even lower than your CL.

Therefore, your relationship will be stable, but unhappy until someone better comes around or you can find satisfaction in another situation.

The other reason why it may be hard for you to break things off is that you are attached. “Even a burdensome and unsatisfying relationship can contribute to one’s sense of security” (Weiss, 1975).

You don’t know how much you miss your boyfriend until he is gone. If you don’t have someone else’s open arms to run to, you are probably going to turn around and seek comfort from your boyfriend again. You should think about these aspects of your relationship and discuss this with your boyfriend. This is a very systematic view of relationships and social exchange, and while it is a very reliable predictor of behavior in relationships, everyone is different. Don’t ignore your heart, whatever you do. ? Joan

Love and relationship questions can be sent to the love goddess herself, Joan Knihnicki, at love@campustimes.org.

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