In many relationships, one partner feels like they have to beg for attention and affection while the other feels like they just can’t get any alone time. One partner feels neglected and the other feels pressured to say and do more. This can be really annoying! It even happens when both partners are committed to fostering a healthy relationship. If you’ve experienced this dynamic, you’ll be happy to know it has a name: pursuer-distancer. Sometimes also referred to as an avoidant/ambivalent pairing or as over-functioner/under-functioner, this dynamic happens when partners have different insecure attachment styles. The good news is you can absolutely conquer this dynamic! This episode teaches you how.
It’s important to note that this dynamic plays out to some degree in all relationships. In fact, the pairing of ambivalent and avoidant partners is the most common pairing there is! So it’s valuable for everyone to analyze their relationship through this lens. I believe that if we all had a deeper understanding of relationship dynamics, we would treat our partners more thoughtfully and reap the rewards of happier, healthier relationships! Learn about this dynamic and how to compensate for it in this episode!
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“Both partners in this dynamic have a reasonable claim to frustration, and when they each talk about why the relationship is frustrating, they both make sense, because they’re frustrated for good reason.” – John Howard
- What the pursuer-distancer dynamic is and how it manifests in relationships
- Why this dynamic is so common
- How the pursuer-distancer dynamic works
- Why it’s never only the distancer’s fault
- How to solve this dynamic in your own relationship
“It’s not really a personal choice to avoid connection but it’s a wired-in nervous system reaction that stems from feeling stressed and overwhelmed.” – John Howard
- If you’d like to dig deeper into the pursuer-distancer dynamic, get a copy of Wired for Love by Stan Tatkin
“At the beginning of a relationship, we’re typically making more of an effort, we’re more intentional and conscious about our relationship behavior, and so we can mask these styles [ambivalent or avoidant] in the beginning, but they begin to show more as two people become closer.” – John Howard