A Dimensional Approach to Characterizing On-Again/Off-Again Romantic Relationships


  • René M Dailey
  • Borae Jin
  • Nicholas Brody
  • Andrea A. McCracken


To better characterize on-again/off-again (on-off) relationships, the current study examined variations in these relationships using a dimensional approach. Based on a five-typology of on-off relationships, corresponding dimensions were developed and assessed in relation to breakup and renewal negotiations as well as relational quality characteristics. Canonical correlation analyses with 299 participants currently or previously in an on-off relationship revealed two major patterns: (1) positive on-off dynamics (e.g., relationship improvement, maintained interest) were associated with more successful transitions and greater relational quality, and (2) a combination of positive and negative on-off dynamics was related to positive change but also waning interest in the relationship and a greater difficulty negotiating relational transitions. Overall, the current findings suggest certain dimensions play stronger roles in characterizing on-off relationships, and assessing the dimensions in combination (i.e., those that covary in predicting relational characteristics) can reveal insights beyond those provided by categorical classifications of on-off relationships.

Author Biography

Borae Jin, [a] Communication Studies Department, University of Texas at Austin, Austin, TX, USA. [b] Graduate School of Communication & Arts, Yonsei University, Seoul, South Korea