A distancer may feel unhappy about how things are going in a relationship, but he or she is still more likely to maintain the status quo than to move toward a partner who is in pursuit mode. This is the reality faced by the pursuer men I work with.
His distancer partner’s ability to maintain the status quo is confusing for him. She will stay in distancer mode for years while he keeps trying the same pursuer tactics.
She feels powerless to turn toward him because she needs to feel a decrease of the intense pressure of his relentless pursuit.
The impact on a woman’s ability to trust from years of pursuit can be enormous. It’s hard for him to understand her fear about reconnecting.
Rebuilding trust requires a consistent and dependable energy of acceptance and respect. She wants to feel less pressure, less judgment, and less anger.
When he chooses to understand and empathize with these critical needs, he can choose a new mindset: He can love her in ways that pull her toward him instead of pushing her away. He can choose to understand before providing advice on how to stop the pattern.
What if she is the pursuer?
Everything applies the same. She has the same responsibility.
The distancer’s dilemma
Dr. Lerner also gives a warning to distancers.
But distancers beware:
Many partners, exhausted by years of pursuing and feeling unheard, leave a relationship or marriage suddenly.
When a distancer realizes that a partner may actually walk out, he or she may flip into a position of intense pursuit. But it may be too late.
She must realize the power she holds in how she chooses to turn towards his desire for connection. A choice to create feelings of fear and insecurity in her partner also sabotages her own chance for a rewarding relationship.She must be aware of what she is avoiding and why.
Your partner is most likely pursuing you because they are scared of you abandoning them. While you are putting distance between you and them because you fear being controlled in the relationship.
The worst thing for a pursuer to feel is detachment.
When they are given the gift of genuine reassurance they are able to relax. This is known as the dependency paradox.
Of course, a man who is distancing has the same responsibility.
Starting all by yourself
Must both partners do their work at the same time in order to escape the pattern?
No. And expecting that to happen will negatively affect their ability to start making their own changes.
Changes must be driven by a desire to be a better partner, not to get some instant result or reciprocation.
Pursuers are known for being outcome dependent and have a hard time making changes without expectations. Distancers are known for being stubborn and have difficulty making the first move when under pressure.
When one partner makes a commitment to change their approach and their responses, on a consistent basis, their relationship will change.
Related Video: 12 Signs You Are Losing Yourself In Your Relationship
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