In couples counseling, there is one dynamic that I see more than any other. It’s where one partner finds themselves craving more attention and closeness – while the other feels the need for more space. This is known as a pursuer/distancer dynamic.
Sue Johnson, the founder of Emotionally Focused Therapy, estimates that a whopping 80% of couples may fall into this category! So how do two people who are obviously in love get caught up in this push-pull type of situation? The answer is – attachment styles.
Attachment styles are created in childhood in response to our interactions with our parents or primary caretakers. Styles can range from Secure, Anxious, Avoidant or Disorganized. To find out more, check out this informative article.
In the pursuer/distancer dynamic, early childhood interactions have most often resulted in the development of negative core belief that then affects all of their closest relationships. For the pursuer, the belief can fall into the “I don’t matter” category. This creates an anxious attachment style revolving around the need for their partners reassurance as a way to help heal their childhood wound. For the distancer, the belief can center around a deep fear of “I’m not good enough.” This partner senses the neediness of the other’s request and can feel pressured, over-burdened and fearful of not being able to live up to the task.
The interesting thing about attachments styles is that without a conscious awareness of what’s going on under the surface (that there is an existing attachment style at work) couples can feel stuck in this repetitive relationship pattern.
A trained counselor can help you uncover the deeper dynamics that may be at play in your relationship and offer you techniques to break-free from unfulfilling dynamics.
Wise Counseling, Inc. offers both individual and couples counseling aimed at empowering you to create your greatest quality of life. We also specialize in EMDR Therapy to help you address past trauma – and break free from unhealthy life patterns. Offices in both Fort Myers and Naples. Please allow us to be your partner in wellness.