In my practice, I see many couples caught in a pattern of emotional pursue and withdraw, where one partner needs and seeks more closeness than the other.
The pursue-withdraw pattern is destructive and if not addressed and understood by both partners, often leads to divorce. Unfortunately, if the pattern is not recognized and resolved it re-emerges in second marriages and later intimate relationships.
If you are struggling with your relationship, don’t wait to reach out for help.
What does the pursue-withdraw pattern look like?
As stated, the pursue-withdraw pattern can happen when one partner wants more closeness than the other. It also happens when both partners want closeness but there is a perceived disconnection or lack of trust.
Typically, withdrawers operate under the assumption that if they allow themselves to be vulnerable and assertively “put themselves out there” their partner will not validate their feelings and, at worst, they will leave. In order to maintain the relationship, they withdraw and shut down.
When the withdrawer does this, they ignore their own needs for emotional connection and closeness. They become consumed with feelings of hurt and resentment.
When this happens the pursuer typically works harder to re-establish the connection. Rather than ignoring their own needs, the pursuer ramps up their efforts to “fix” the situation and reconnect to their partner.
Understanding the underlying issues in your relationship
Every person has needs for emotional connection and security. We all long to feel loved, cared for, respected, and valued. When a pursue-withdraw pattern exists in a relationship for a long time, it can be difficult to establish a sense of security. As time goes on, one or both partners begin to feel isolated and alone.
At this point, often the pursuer themselves becomes withdrawn. They feel hopeless and ready to move on. This is usually when the withdrawer understands something has changed, and the decision is made to either get a divorce or try therapy.
This is an unfortunate situation, because if you wait until the relationship gets to this point it can be extremely challenging to repair the hurt and restore trust.
Change the pattern before it destroys your relationship
If you understand that there is a repeating pattern of pursue-withdraw between you and your partner and you want to save the relationship, it is imperative that you both take steps to find a way to discover the underlying issues and work to resolve them. If divorce occurs, the pattern usually persists into second marriages.
It is essential to understand this pattern, what underlies it, and what is driving the behavioral reactions of each of you. When this understanding occurs, it is easier to meet the fundamental needs of each person in the relationship.
If you would like to learn how to break this negative pattern, you are welcome to call and book your first appointment or fill out my contact form and click Send.Please share this post!