Overlapping Relationships


"Overlapping happens towards the end of a relationship that isn’t working, even though one of you might still be fighting for its survival. Or be unaware that the other party is even thinking of breaking up… The overlapper may justify their actions by claiming that the relationship was “practically over” or claiming that they told you they needed space.

Habitual or even serial overlappers are always lining up their next option so it’s ready to use when needed.
  • They reopen negotiations with their ex behind your back.

  • They’ve got someone at work / the gym/club that they flirt with.

  • They’re confiding their problems (real or imagined) to someone at work (or elsewhere). Or they’ve become a shoulder to cry on for that person and forged a connection.

  • They’ve got someone mooning over them and being ‘indispensable’. For example, the woman who overlapped one of my friends took over her old job, then played supportive friend to her then boyfriend. Then she eased her way into a relationship with him a few weeks before my friend’s relationship ended.

  • They’re already strolling down memory lane on Facebook with someone from school/uni (the Returning Childhood ‘Sweetheart’).

Habitual overlappers don’t like to leave a relationship until they’ve got another one to go to.

The people they move on to are bridges providing an excuse and an exit out of their current relationship. Or, an emotional airbag providing a soft landing."

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© 2017-2021 by Natalie D'Annibale, PsyD, LMFT