If you’re in a gay relationship and you are finding that you’re stuck in a negative pattern of relating, this could really help.
Most people want a romantic relationship at some point in their lives, but sometimes find the relationship doesn’t seem to go as smoothly as they had hoped. Sometimes couples find themselves stuck in negative patterns of interaction that seem to get out of control. A very common cycle of interaction is what is commonly known as the pursue-withdraw cycle.
Often the ‘pursuer’ feels anxious or insecure in the relationship, and worries they might lose their partners love.
This can get so intense that they then try to reach out to the partner to feel connected again, but it can come across in a clingy or critical manner. The partner then feels like ‘I can’t do anything right’, or feels overwhelmed or claustrophobic, which can lead them to emotionally withdraw from the other.
This can create a really destructive pattern between the partners.
As the ‘pursuer’ feels more anxious and insecure they try to reach out to their partner, but in unhelpful ways. The ‘withdrawer’ then feels attacked or overwhelmed by the intensity, which leads them to emotionally withdraw, which of course then leaves the ‘pursuer’ feeling even more disconnected and alone, and so the cycle continues. The pursuer gets more and more upset, and the withdrawer continues to emotionally shut down, leaving neither partner feeling connected. This cycle can escalate very quickly, and can repeat over and over again.
What is important to remember is that it is not the fault of either partner.
The cycle does not begin with any one partner, and it is this negative cycle that is the problem, not either partner. Sometimes simply looking out for these patterns and actively trying to stop pursuing or withdrawing can be enough to slow down this cycle. However, sometimes couples find it useful to have couples therapy together in order to really get a handle on these patterns of negative interaction.
Clinical Psychologist Annabelle Young has extensive experience in working with people with depression, anxiety (including panic), adjustment difficulties, stress, trauma, PTSD, bipolar disorder, low self-esteem, grief and loss, interpersonal difficulties, as well as alcohol and drug use issues.