Kylie Jenner and Travis Scott seem to be back together. What experts say about on and off relationships.

·5 min read
NEW YORK, NEW YORK - JUNE 15: Travis Scott and Kylie Jenner attend the The 72nd Annual Parsons Benefit at Pier 17 on June 15, 2021 in New York City. (Photo by Craig Barritt/Getty Images for The New School)
Travis Scott and Kylie Jenner at the 72nd Annual Parsons Benefit at Pier 17 on June 15, 2021 in New York City. (Photo: Craig Barritt/Getty Images for The New School)

Kylie Jenner and Travis Scott raised eyebrows when the former couple attended the 72nd annual Parsons Benefit in New York City on Tuesday. The two, who share 3-year-old daughter Stormi, broke up in 2019.

Scott was given an award at the ceremony, and he thanked Jenner during his speech, reportedly saying, “Wifey, I love you so much." (Scott has repeatedly used the term “wifey” to refer to Jenner in the past.)

A source tells People that Scott and Jenner “were being very sweet and cute together,” noting that, “they were holding hands and seemed fully back on."

Jenner shared a photo on Instagram from the event of herself and Scott, with his arms wrapped around her waist. “24 hours in NYC,” she wrote in the caption.

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Fans fell all over themselves on social media, trying to confirm whether the former couple is, in fact, back on.

If Scott and Jenner are a couple again, they wouldn’t be the only celebrity couple to reunite recently: Exes Jennifer Lopez and Ben Affleck have been spotted spending time together, and Gigi Hadid and Zayn Malik recently had a baby together after splitting up and reuniting. Plenty of other famous couples, including Kate Middleton and Prince William and Gabrielle Union and Dwyane Wade, have also reunited after a split.

Experts say it’s possible for a relationship to work after a breakup — but the odds aren’t great. Reunited couples will usually “permanently end the relationship,” at some point, psychologist John Mayer, author of Family Fit: Find Your Balance in Life, tells Yahoo Life. A major reason, he says: People can realize the problems they had before in the relationship haven’t gone away. Cue the fighting and arguing all over again…

“The majority of people who experience what we call "relationship cycling" — breakups and reconciliations—are at risk for reduced satisfaction and commitment in their relationship, more conflict with their partner and experience more symptoms of psychological distress,” J. Kale Monk, assistant professor in the Department of Human Development and Family Science at the University of Missouri who has researched relationship instability, tells Yahoo Life. 

But breaking up and getting back together doesn’t mean a relationship is doomed, Monk says. “There are some people in my research who say that the time apart gave them the mental clarity they needed to realize they didn’t want to be without their partner,” he points out.

So, why do people tend to get back together in the first place? There are a few potential reasons. “Psychologically, there are key elements of on- and off-relationships,” Mayer says.

One is a failure to set boundaries in relationships, he says. Meaning, a couple may officially end things but still spend time together or even be physically romantic, which can lead to reuniting.

Another is that people are “horrible with coping with endings,” Mayer says, adding, “transitions in life cause great anxiety.” That can lead to denial about what made the relationship end in the first place, he says. “We try and break up and, instead of coping with the pain, we try and deny all the causes that led to the decision to break up and voila — we go back to this bad situation and then the revolving door starts again,” Mayer says.

But couples can also reunite because they “still care about each other and want to make it work,” licensed marriage and family therapist Lesli Doares, author of Blueprint for a Lasting Marriage. “This is often a case of hope over experience,” she says. Other former couples may try to make a relationship work for the sake of their children, she says.

"In the healthiest cases, people may go and do the work — get the therapy, do some introspection and make some meaningful changes that can result in a different perspective," licensed clinical psychologist Ramani Durvasula, PhD, author of Should I Stay or Should I Go?, tells Yahoo Life.

Durvasula says it can be "really tricky" when children are involved. "It really can do harm — a child feeling that their adult parental figures are inconsistent, immature, unsafe and unpredictable," she says. 

Some children may simply accept their parents' on- and off-relationship "as a reality in their lives,” Mayer says, noting that this tends to be more common with younger children.

Children can also blame themselves for their parents’s breakup, Doares says. As a result, they “will develop coping behaviors to try to hold that relationship together — trying to be perfect, or developing illness or behavior problems so the parents will focus on them instead of fighting with each other,” she says.

Ultimately, though, Monk says that “children need consistency and crave stability to feel safe.”

If a couple is interested in reuniting after a breakup, Monk recommends having “open and honest conversations” about what caused the split in the first place. “Will there still be lingering issues? Might the concerns that led to a prior breakup also contribute to future problems if you get back together? Work out what those hurdles might be and have an action plan for how to address them to prevent future instability,” he advises. Doares agrees. “Real work needs to be done because the old patterns will be there just waiting to be triggered,” she says. “If you want something different, you have to do something different.”

Monk says it’s also important for former couples to reunite for the right reasons. “Are you getting back with an ex because you feel like it’s more convenient and it would be too hard to be single or find another partner right now? Or are you getting back together because you have strong feelings for the partner and you both know you’re committed to putting in the work needed to make the relationship last this time?” he says. “The latter is the appropriate strategy because relationships take work.”

And, if children are in the mix, Durvasula suggest taking things slow. "If you are going to go back on again, it's important to move slowly and intentionally," she says. "Maybe don't create an insta-household again and move gradually."

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