Are you the “pursuer” or the “withdrawer” in your relationship? This may sound like an odd question if you are not familiar with these terms. Another way to ask would be; Do you chase your partner when things get heated or do you run from your partner when things get heated? It may not be an easy question to answer, because relationships are complicated and occasionally we all play both rolls. Although, you do have one roll that you generally fall into. In most couples there is one pursuer and one withdrawer. On occasion, both could be withdrawers.
If you are the pursuer, you are usually the one nagging or yelling or trying to get your partner’s attention in some way. You don’t intend to pick fights, but you really want to be seen and valued. You want him to connect and talk to you. Sometimes you feel that fighting is better than silence.
If you are the pursuer you have a longing for your partner to claim you as his own. You want to be cherished. You may appear angry a lot, but you are not just being mean or hard to satisfy because you like it. You are pursuing your partner to connect with him. You often feel abandoned and have anxiety when you feel your partner is distant. You need to belong, to feel together. You want to be comforted and have a connection. When you feel your partner isn’t connected, you panic.
If you are the withdrawer, you are often feeling hurt by the nagging or what feels like constant criticism. You are trying to stop the argument, even if it means walking away, agreeing halfheartedly or leaving the house. You just want the fighting to stop.
You might be afraid to open up. The thought of what might happen if your feelings get let out is scary. You need to protect the relationship from blowing up. You want peace, and feel that would be the best thing for your relationship. You want desperately to be accepted, as you are, with all your weaknesses and failures. You are not and uncaring jerk, you are actually scared. You want to avoid disappointment and you need acceptance and safety. When you feel your partner is unsafe, you want to run away.
Do you have an idea of which role you play? Do you have a little more insight into what your partner may be feeling and why they act the way they do?
If you think you are the pursuer, then you need to work on backing down a little. Try to share from your heart in a soft way, not an angry way.
If you are the withdrawer you need to work on staying engaged. Letting your partner know that you care about what’s going on. Communicating that you care about her, but you are feeling overwhelmed.
The more the pursuer chases, the more the withdrawer runs. Then the pursuer pushes more and the withdrawer backs away further. It’s a vicious cycle. The cycle is the enemy, not your partner. Step out of the cycle and try something new.