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To sustain a passionate, fulfilling relationship, a couple has to balance two primary drives — togethernesss and separateness. Often however individuals often end up polarizing into the Pursuer and the Distancer.
When pursuers pursue connection they tend to push the distancer away. Pursuers feel rejected when their partner needs space and they’ll often try to get any emotional reaction just to make some sort of connection. The distancer may finally respond with anger or with resentful accommodation. But neither is very satisfying for the couple.
Pursuers tend to come across as needy. Distancers feel smothered by the pursuer’s craving for more connection and often lose desire for the pursuer. Pursuers need to reduce the burden they are putting on to their partner to satisfy their needs. Instead of attacking and overwhelming your partner, start by appreciating your partner and appeal to him or her by expressing desires in a positive way.
Complaining, generalizing, and attacking put others on the defensive and does not make you desirable to be with. You want your partner to want to be with you not to feel obligated to be with you. Entice your partner with one specific positive request at a time. If there’s an entrenched problem, discuss it in a self-empowered and compassionate way, by expressing your needs and values, without complaining and attacking.
If your partner is always busy or doesn’t take you seriously, set an appointment to talk. Keep your conversation concise rather than long and draining.
Pursuers often look for others to satisfy their deepest needs to be heard, to feel validated and accepted, and to avoid feeling alone. Yet no one can truly fill that emptiness. Psychological duress only leads to coerced togetherness not passionate togetherness. Avoid being the victim and using guilt to manipulate someone to spend time with you.
Distancers have all the power in the relationship. Pursuers need to take back that power, not over the other person, not even over the relationship, but over their own lives, by becoming accountable for their own fulfillment rather than making their partner responsible.
Love means having the self-discipline to respect other people’s wishes and needs despite your own desires. Appreciate the other person’s autonomy. Give the other person the space and time apart necessary to desire being with you. Also enjoy your time without your partner. It makes you a more interesting and desirable person to be with.
In summary, allow there to be some space and even mystery between you and your partner. Be responsible for your own fulfillment. If you develop your ability to be independent and to accept yourself, you won’t need to coerce validation and support from someone else.
Strive for love out of fullness rather than out of need and emptiness. Fullness comes from leading a more full, balanced life with ongoing growth, as well as self-validation and self-acceptance. Give yourself and your partner the gift of having the space to desire you.
by Dr. Alison Poulsen