Question from our readers:
I believe I am a vacillator/avoider.
Is this a possible combination and does that cause more conflict in me because of it?
This is a good question.
Vacillators may feel like avoiders when they are angry and want to retreat and withdraw.
Both vacillators and avoiders may withdraw, but for very different reasons.
Avoiders are unaware of their own feelings and needs and will try and give what others are asking for, but it exhausts them since they are self sufficient and have no needs.
Withdrawing is their only way to find relief since they don’t bring their stresses into relationships.
Avoiders may also withdraw if others are too emotional or needy because this overwhelms them.
They literally do not know what to do with neediness so it makes the avoider feel uneasy and inadequate.
Avoiders withdraw to escape this discomfort.
Vacillators will pursue their spouse for times of connection.
Remember, before they are disappointed, their longing for intense connection that they can feel is on “high.” Over time, as they are disappointed, they may retreat and give up more and more to the point where they almost seem like and avoider. Before this withdrawal happens, the vacillator has expressed many times anger and disappointment at the unavailability, disinterest, or lack of attention from their spouse. Avoiders do not go through this time of longing and disappointment. The avoider does not even relate to the feeling of longing.
So here is my guess.
I’m guessing you are a vacillator who is mostly avoiding and withdrawing out of anger or resignation or perhaps even to punish your spouse and show them what it feels like to be ignored.
Indeed, this does cause conflict in you because withdrawing goes against your desire for connection.
The dilemma of the vacillator is, “Do I try and connect and face possible disappointment or do I withdraw and hope someone comes to get me? When connection is possible and it is offered, you may resist. Although you would enjoy the time and attention, you may feel you are too angry or that you have no control over when it will be offered again. So once more, there is a dilemma.
Do I accept or resist?
Of course all this is not a conscious process. Rather it is a pattern learned in childhood.
It leaves both you and your spouse confused and disconnected.
If you are married to an avoider, they had a life time of being ignored so they are very use to this and your distancing won’t bother them. It won’t occur to an avoider to pursue you or “come get you”. The avoider is probably thinking, ….”Good, he or she is taking care of themselves.
If you are married to a pleaser and you withdraw, they will most likely be more anxious. They will pursue in indirect ways that do not address your anger. Their pleasing is more about avoiding your anger than it is genuine connection. Of course this is what the Pleaser learned in their childhood…”Be good and make everyone happy, so it’s possible to relax”.
I hope this clears up your confusion and helps you clarify which love style is most responsible for keeping you stuck. Be sure and get the How We Love Workbook because you will find specific growth goals that will guide you toward a secure love style and greater intimacy in your relationships.
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More of Kay’s tips on improving your relationships: “Fuel for the LOVE Tank “
Milan and Kay