Are You a Distancer or a Pursuer?

Are You a Distancer or a Pursuer?


Pursuing and distancing are patterned ways in which people transfer below stress, two other ways of making an attempt to get snug. Clearly, relationships go finest when neither associate is locked into the extremes, and each have the pliability to switch their fashion. However neither fashion is “proper or improper,” “good or dangerous,” or “higher or worse.”

This is a short description of every fashion: Which class is “extra you”?


  • React to anxiousness by looking for larger togetherness of their relationship.
  • Place a excessive worth on speaking issues out and expressing emotions, and consider that others ought to do the identical.
  • Really feel rejected and take it personally when their associate needs extra time and house alone or away from the connection.
  • Are likely to pursue more durable when a associate seeks distance, and go into chilly withdrawal when their efforts fail.
  • Might negatively label themselves as “too dependent,” “too demanding,” or “too nagging” of their relationship.
  • Are likely to criticize their associate as somebody who can’t deal with emotions or tolerate closeness.
  • Method their associate with a way of urgency or emotional depth when anxious.


  • Search emotional distance by way of bodily house when stress is excessive.
  • Think about themselves to be self-reliant and personal individuals—extra do-it-yourselfers than help-seekers.
  • Have issue displaying their needy, weak, and dependent sides.
  • Obtain labels reminiscent of “unavailable,” “withholding,” or “emotionally shut down” from their partner.
  • Handle anxiousness of their marriage by intensifying work-related tasks or withdrawing into know-how or sports activities.
  • Have a tendency to surrender simply on their associate (“It’s not value making an attempt to debate issues”) and have a low tolerance for battle.
  • Open up most freely after they aren’t being pushed, pursued, or criticized by their associate.

The Downside is the Sample, Not the Particular person

An issue happens when the sample of pursuing and distancing will get entrenched and the pursuer and distancer develop into polarized in painful methods. When this occurs, the conduct of every associate provokes and maintains the conduct of the opposite.

In the event you pursue a distancer, they are going to distance extra. In the event you distance from a pursuer, they are going to pursue extra.

Needless to say it’s usually the sample, not the particular person, that’s the issue within the relationship. In most relationships, the pursuer is the one in additional misery in regards to the distance, and due to this fact the one who’s most motivated to alter the sample. The distancer could really feel sad about how issues are going within the relationship, however she’s nonetheless extra more likely to preserve the established order than transfer towards a associate who’s in pursuit mode. Because of this, my work as a therapist is commonly directed at serving to the pursuer name off the pursuit, and to seek out methods to reconnect that gained’t intensify the pursuer-distancer dance.

Respect Your Companion’s Totally different Fashion

Even in case you’re not prepared but to switch your personal fashion, attempt to respect your associate’s computerized approach of navigating relationships below stress. It is pure to see our fashion as the proper one. If our approach of dealing with an issue is to enter remedy, we could also be satisfied that our associate must do the identical, even when he comes from a household with a robust custom of determining issues on one’s personal. If we need to pay knowledgeable to speak about it—properly, he ought to, too.

Think about a dialog between newly married associates of mine, Alan and Sabra. I used to be with them when Sabra acquired dangerous information about her sister’s well being, and nobody was stunned when Sabra shared the knowledge in a matter-of-fact approach after which modified the topic. This was typical of Sabra, who had nice issue sharing the softer, extra weak aspect of herself—a method that irritated Alan immensely, though he additionally admired her “don’t grumble, stick with it” lifestyle.

Later within the night, Alan mentioned, “As at all times, Sabra, you allow me no room to reply to the painful information that you simply’re sharing. It’s like you could have a brush in your hand and also you’re sweeping me away on the similar time you’re telling me about your sister’s analysis. And then you definitely’re on to the following topic. You don’t even give me the house to say how sorry I’m that that is occurring.”

“Alan,” she responded in her very agency approach. “I do know you’re sorry that that is occurring. I don’t want to listen to it.”

When Alan started to argue the purpose, Sabra stopped him with an excellent firmer tone. “Look, Alan,” she mentioned. “Once you discuss what’s bothering you, you are feeling higher. Once I discuss it, I really feel worse. I need to say it and transfer on. You could recognize this distinction between us.”

Alan does want to understand the distinction. He additionally wants to assist Sabra perceive that he wants house to reply when she shares painful information, even when she prefers him to remain mute. They’ll do higher if they will every modify their very own types a bit, whereas respecting their variations.

In my opinion, it was helpful to listen to Sabra say that speaking left her feeling worse. Her phrases jogged my memory that even “clashing types” obscure a fundamental human commonality: When stress hits, all of us attempt to get snug. There isn’t any one proper approach.

Pursuers: Make a Date, Not a Prognosis

When our associate has distanced, we’ve an comprehensible tendency to diagnose him (“You’ve been absent currently, I believe you’re depressed and don’t realize it”) together with the connection (“I believe the closeness has gone out of our marriage”). If we’re feeling weak, we additionally have a tendency towards exaggeration (“We haven’t had an actual dialog in a 12 months”). On this approach, we are able to identify a non-existent drawback into existence, or make a small drawback into a big one.

Once you need extra connection, recommend an exercise (“I hear there’s a stunning path by the lake—do you need to test it out this week?) As a substitute of speaking about communication—speaking about the way you don’t speak—simply attempt speaking.

The identical recommendation goes for the distancer. As a substitute of diagnosing your associate as overly-emotional or in-your-face, transfer towards her. Simply attempt to heat issues up and shut the gap. After three months of shifting towards her, observe the outcomes of your personal experiment.


Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *