Dear Stavroula

Ask Stavroula: My Sister Is in a Meaningless On-Again-Off-Again Relationship

March 15, 2020

Dear Stavroula,

My sister is 40 years old and has been in the same on-again-off-again relationship for five years with a man slightly older than her. Each time she breaks up with him, she spends a great deal of time on her own and then tries to go out with other men, but all her efforts were unsuccessful. The last time she was with him for about a year they had serious problems, because he was facing a difficult situation in his father’s family and had changed his behavior, becoming abrupt and quarrelsome and closed himself off from everyone. When she told me that they got back together again (for the fourth time!) and that she was very happy, I tried to remind her what had happened all the previous times they had split up but she insisted that this time things were different for both of them and that everything would be fine. I want to help her but since she realized that I am against this relationship, she avoids me. How do I let her know that she’s going to make a mistake once again?



Dear Fanny,

There are many couples who break up and then get back together again and not just once. Usually, they claim that they cannot stay away from each other and that when there is love, all problems can be overcome. However, most times when a couple goes into the same relationship there are more serious issues that need to be addressed.

Your sister may break up and get back together with the same person because she feels insecure about the future. You write to me that she has tried to move on with other partners but the relationships failed. If she is afraid of being left alone, if she wants to have children and is afraid that time is passing and she will not be able to, she may compromise to try again with someone she knows and feels familiar with. There may be other causes, such as having attached the concept of love to this person and fearing that if she loses him from her life she will not be loved again. She may even subconsciously feel that she is not worthy of love and therefore does not allow herself to bound to any human being and remain in a relationship.

If any of the above applies, she needs to work hard on herself, perhaps with the help of a specialist to be able to move on with her life.

You’re looking for a way to let her know that she’s going to make the same mistake once again. However, consider the following:

First, there is always the chance that a relationship that has gone through ups and downs will be successful, if the two involved are loving, mature, and respectful of each other and willing to work on that relationship. Especially if they have identified what mistakes have been made on both sides in the past and want to correct them.

Given this, you could talk to your sister and help her understand how she wants to move forward with her relationship. Think of it more than anything else that she needs a person to discuss her concerns with her, without fear of being judged, blamed, or told “See! I told you so.”

Second, the moment she wants to try again in this relationship, there is no reason for you to insist that her partner is not the right one. All you end up doing is provoking her reaction so that she does not trust your intentions towards her and distances herself from you.

Third, no one wants to feel that their own loved ones do not respect their choices whatever they are.

So think that perhaps the most effective way to help her is to be with her when she needs you, with love and respect.


Dear Stavroula, I have three sons, the eldest got married three years ago and has an 11 month old son.

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