How to Avoid the Pursuer-Distancer Pattern in Your Relationship | HuffPost
In so many relationships, this pattern of the pursuer and distancer occurs. One person other person distances. Both are avoiding real intimacy. Are You the Pursuer or the Distancer in Your Relationship? the sense that they may be withholding affection, avoiding intimacy, or controlling. 8 Ways to Get Out Of the Distancer-Pursuer Communication Pattern. by our interactions with others and the relationships we create.
They are anxious about the distance their partner has created and take it personally. They criticize their partner for being emotionally unavailable. They believe they have superior values.
If they fail to connect, they will collapse into a cold, detached state. They are labeled needy, demanding, and nagging. A partner with distancing behavior tends to respond to relationship stress by moving away from the other.
They want physical and emotional distance. They have difficulty with vulnerability. They respond to their anxiety by retreating into other activities to distract themselves.
Are You in a Distancer-Pursuer Relationship? 8 Ways to Get Out
They see themselves as private and self-reliant. They are labeled unavailable, withholding, and shut down. Lerner points out the importance of recognizing that neither pattern is wrong. In a normal relationship, we may actually take turns adopting one role or the other.
Avoiding the ‘pursuer distancer' dance - The Local
Healthy relationships can handle the stress with mutual respect and appreciation because both partners are aware of their behavior and are willing to adjust it for the benefit of the relationship.
Marriages fall apart when partners become entrenched in the roles. If something does not change, both begin to feel criticized and develop contempt for each other - two signs their marriage is doomed to fail, according to Dr. What does it look like? A common scenario is a wife who is very anxious about the lack of communication from her husband. She wants him to open up to her more.
She wants him to be more vulnerable and to connect with her so they can work on getting along better. Her frustration shows as she begins to criticize him and he fights back with defensiveness. She becomes angry and expresses contempt. Both men and women can be pretty good pursuers. I think this skill is best used for pursuing mutual happiness rather than our own righteousness. Why does it matter? The research by Gottman and Hetherington is important.
She writes, "One spouse becomes the "pursuer" favoring closeness, and the other becomes a "distancer," favoring more separateness. For instance, some couples swap roles over a particular issue - such as a woman who wants to be closer emotionally to her husband may not be interested in sex. The irony of the pursuer-distancer pattern of sexual intimacy in a relationship is that when couples try to talk things out, it can actually make things worse. For instance, pursuers have a tendency to evaluate and criticize their partners - making them even more likely to distance themselves.
Likewise, distancers may feel the pressure of their partner's preoccupation with having sex - intensifying the power struggle that exists. For example, Ethan admits to making biting comments to Rebecca when she shuts down sexually - causing her to go further into her shell.
Commonly, one partner gets tired of pursuing and the other grows weary or gets angry about what they perceive as constant nagging. I've seen this pattern over and over again in the couples I've interviewed for my research.
To complicate matters, it's natural for one person to see their style as preferred and to be convinced that their partner needs to change - neglecting to see their part in the tug-of-war over intimacy. Why is the pursuer- distancer pattern so common and destructive to relationships?
John Gottman of the University of Washington and The Gottman Institute, a renowned observer of couple dynamics, believes that the tendency of men to withdraw emotionally and women to pursue is wired into our physiology and reflects a gender difference.
Gottman cautions us that if this pattern isn't nipped in the bud early on, it can persist for decades and lead to divorce.
Claire finally realized that her underlying need for connection was pushing Jason away. She began to understand that she needed to pull back from Jason and put more energy into her own life.
Avoiding the ‘pursuer distancer' dance
She realized she had been wanting Jason to provide her with something that she needed to provide for herself. She was slowly able to take responsibility to fulfil her own needs.
She looked for a more challenging job, signed up for a dance class, and spent more time on her own. She learned to identify her needs and found ways to provide for them, instead of expecting Jason to do so Jason was suffocated by what he viewed as Claire's neediness.
To cope he pulled away from contact with her. Jason came to understand his part in the dance - and how his avoidance was causing Claire to be more needy and dependant on him. To break the pattern, Jason decided to schedule five nights a week for dinner with Claire.
After a few dinners, the oppression he had been feeling lifted. He realized Claire didn't want to spend every minute with him.