How to Fix the Pursuer Withdrawal Relationship

A pursuer withdrawal pattern in a relationship indicates difficulties with intimacy.A pursuer withdrawal pattern in a relationship indicates difficulties with intimacy.

A pursuer withdrawal relationship is characterized by a dynamic in which one partner asks for attention, communication, and participation from the other partner. When this occurs the second partner will typically interpret the needs as overwhelming and negative, and he will feel the need to withdraw or distance himself. The pursuer has a greater need for intimacy than the person who withdraws, and she will usually continue to ask for communication and quality time until tension and conflicts begin to arise in the relationship.

Communicate about your relationship, and compare it to others you see in your family or among friends. Talk about how much intimacy you both ideally need in a relationship. You should consider your needs at specific times. For example, maybe you crave more intimacy on vacation than when you're busy with work, or maybe you can handle a lot of intimacy when you are stressed or sick. Identifying your needs and when they occur can help you and your partner see the ways in which you are similar and you can begin to create closeness during moments that are good for both of you.

Understand your personal role in the relationship. If you are the pursuer you will need to learn to give your partner some space and not seem overly needy or giving. If you tend to withdraw you probably need to make an effort to be more present and offer more attention and emotional closeness at moments that are critical for your partner. If you want your relationship to work you'll need to spend time improving your communication and manner of relating with your partner. When one partner changes it can often prompt changes in the other partner.

If you continue to experience difficulties and you both agree you want to remain in the relationship professional counseling may be very helpful. A counselor has an independent point of view on your relationship and you can share personal concerns and information with him or her because a counselor is bound by confidentiality. Counselors can provide useful feedback, coping tools, and if you attend regular appointments the counselor will be able to track your progress and advise you accordingly.

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About the Author

Christy Bowles has 15 years of experience in the field of education, with 10 years working in mental health and wellness. She specializes in the treatment of depression, anxiety and substance abuse, with a focus on alternative treatment modalities. Bowles holds a Master of Education from Harvard University.

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