Is your partner pulling away?
The pursuer-distancer pattern is one of the most common causes of divorce and separation. Most often it happens with the wife seeking a closer connection from a withdrawing husband. But not always, it can happen the other way too.
In my practice, it is common for me to see couples that have found themselves in an ongoing cycle. One of the partners is pursuing or demanding attention and affection while the other is seeking their space and distance. Your partner may be going through mental health difficulties such as anxiety or depression and needs to learn how to communicate it with you.
If the couple does not address the issue and work to understand each other’s needs, they are likely to break up. Even worse, it is very common for each to move on and repeat the pattern in later relationships.
Why does the distancer pull away?
In the pursuer-distancer pattern, the one who withdraws is not usually seeking disconnection from their partner. In many cases people who withdraw want closeness but do not feel or believe it is possible. Past experiences can lead withdrawers to believe once they allow themselves to become vulnerable and close, the other person leaves.
This perception is often developed during childhood. Parents can reject a child displaying intense emotions or need for attention. Children raised by parents who cannot consistently support their child’s need for emotional support often develop an avoidant attachment style. The avoidant attachment style is a coping strategy as the child learns to suppress emotions and self-soothe rather than reach out to those around him or her for comfort.
As a result, most people who distance themselves in relationships need closeness and connection in the same way as their partner does, they simply have a different strategy. Maintaining distance is a way to stay in the relationship.
How can we get help?
If you’ve tried traditional relationship therapy you probably remember being asked to sit on a pricey, comfortable couch and follow your impulse to “talk out” all that anger, frustration, and irritation with your partner, spouse, child, or parent.
Phil DeLuca wants you to stop talking for a while.
That advice may sound counterintuitive, but it’s coming from a man who has saved thousands of relationships from what he calls the “Dead Zone,” that post-prickly, numbed-out point in a relationship when you simply stop caring about your loved one.
That advice is coming from a counselor who studied and employed traditional talk therapy in his own relationships 30 years ago. After filling his wall with degrees, however, Phil started to rebel and develop this revolutionary holistic approach to communication. With Phil, expect the unexpected – both in your session and in your results.
Change the pursuer-distancer pattern and heal the relationship
In therapy, issues that are keeping you apart can be understood and addressed. In my practice, I help couples learn how to connect again and find a way to understand their own and their partner’s needs.
It is essential to heal the pursuer-distancer pattern and what underlies it. When we understand what is driving our own and our partner’s behavior, it is easier to communicate our feelings and find a way back to each other.