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  • There is a certain sort of relationship that is alternately passionate, fiery and painfully

  • unfulfillingand that tends to puzzle both outsiders and its participants; a relationship

  • between one person who is, as psychologists put it, anxiously attached and another who

  • is avoidantly attached. There is, in such couplings, a constant game of push and pull.

  • The anxiously attached party typically complainsmore or less loudlythat their partner

  • is not responsive enough: they accuse them of being emotionally distant, withholding,

  • cold and perhaps physically uninterested too. The avoidant lover, for their part, stays

  • relatively quiet but in their more fed-up moments, complains that the anxious party

  • is far too demanding, possibly 'mad' and, as they put it pejoratively, 'needy'.

  • One person seems to want far too much, the other far too little. Image result for william

  • eggleston The unhappiness unfolds in a cycle. At the start, the anxious partner loves the

  • avoidant one with great intensitybut, in time, also growing frustration. The dissatisfaction

  • grows ever more intense until, eventually one day, fed up with so much seeming rejection,

  • the anxious partner overcomes their fears, decides they need something better and tells

  • their lover that they're off. At which point, the avoidant party undergoes a complete seachange.

  • Their greatest fear, that of being engulfed in love, disappears at a stroke and reveals

  • something that is normally utterly submerged in their character: a fear of being abandoned.

  • Wholly liberated from the threat of being engulfed (the anxious one may by now have

  • packed their bags), the avoidant one gives free reign to all their reserves of pent up

  • romanticism and ardourwhich feel utterly safe to bring out, now that there seems so

  • little danger of reciprocation. Despite their fury, the anxious person hears the honeyed

  • words and forthright promises, andafter some initial doubtscan't help but be

  • won over. The formerly distant partner appears to have become, in the nick of time, as they'd

  • always wanted them to be, a warm soul. There is no reason not to return: after all, it's

  • not that they didn't love this person, it was the feeling they weren't loved back

  • that was making things impossibleFor a time, there

  • is blissand it seems that the couple are headed for long-term happiness. Liberated

  • from their anxiety around engulfment, the avoidant partner gives free expression to

  • love; liberated from their fear of abandonment, the anxious one is left feeling secure and

  • trusting. But soon enough the problems return. Things become, as it were, too nice for the

  • avoidant partner. It seems the anxious one isn't going to leave them any more, they're

  • just going to stick around and seek ever greater closenessand so the old fear of engulfment

  • returns. They have no option but to start to pull away again and get distant, which

  • gradually proves intolerable once again to the anxious partner. Within weeks or months,

  • the pair are back in the same situation. Fierce arguments are back: the words needy and cold

  • are once more in circulation. It's time for another crisis and another threat of departure.

  • It may go on like this for years, or a lifetimeFrom the outside, it is almost funny. From

  • the inside, it is hellish. There are a few ways out: the avoidant party can realise,

  • and learn to tolerate their fear of engulfment. The anxious party can grow conscious of their

  • unnatural pull towards unfulfilling people, refuse to go back after a crisis and seek

  • a future with more secure and reassuring sorts. Or, yet

  • more hopefully, both partners can acquire the vocabulary of attachment theory, come

  • to observe their repetitions, gain some insight into aspects of their childhoods that drive

  • them onand learn not to act out their compulsions. They can learn the games they

  • are unconsciously playingand then, to the relief of all who care for them and to

  • the redemption of their relationship, refuse to play them any longer.

  • Our book Sorrows of Love helps us handle the inevitabel sorrows of love.

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There is a certain sort of relationship that is alternately passionate, fiery and painfully

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B1 avoidant anxious partner liberated fear party

Why Avoidant and Anxious Partners Find It Hard to Split Up

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    Summer posted on 2020/10/23
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