9 thoughts on “How to Defuse the Number One Negative Cycle in Intimate Relationships

  • July 31, 2018 at 10:45 pm

    Of course another HUGE problem is one partner hyperanylizing the others every move all the while refusing to own their own s**t

  • August 1, 2018 at 6:03 am

    Good article
    Could be helpful to not use “feel” when you are referring to thoughts .
    Helping clients understand the difference between thoughts and feelings will help in intimate relationship dialogue

  • August 1, 2018 at 8:08 am

    My husband was the avoidant, and I was the one seeking closeness. The more I tried to have (emotional) intimacy, the more he pushed away. I was absolutely last on his list and he used porn, click bait women, computer games (modified to make them xxx), articles about sex, and more to make it clear that I was not who he wanted. When I would try amd talk to him about it, he would agree we needed closeness, and talk about what we wanted from the relationship, but refused to do what he agreed to. I begged him to just acknowledge my existence, but he wouldn’t. He gave me the silent treatment most of the time, along with a myriad of passive aggressive behaviors. I became confused, angry, hurt, and gave up. He noticed I pulled away, and started paying attention to me. I was so relieved that he “finally got it,” but once he saw that things were going good, it started all over again. We are in marriage counseling, amd even though he’s not full on ignoring me anymore, he is unable to be emotionally intimate. I have since realized that my avoidant husband is a covert narcissist, and will never have emotional intimacy with him. He does all the classic blame shift, gas lighting, projection, super passive aggressive, playing the victim, word salad, circular arguments, etc. and has absolutely no empathy. I’m here trying to heal my complex PTSD with my own councillor. I am no longer trying to build intimacy, because it’s too painful. Instead I do things to build my own validation, happiness, and self worth.

    • August 12, 2018 at 1:43 am

      Dear LivingTheDream,
      It sounds like a difficult cycle you have lived with your husband. It is heartening to hear that you are in couples counseling and that you are addressing your PTSD in your individual therapy. Dan

  • August 1, 2018 at 9:06 am

    I read the book, along with my partner, several years ago and my primary love language has changed in those 4 years. It really helps to know what each of you respond to and to know what your partner wants and needs. I’d be one happy mom if my kids (adults) would take the time to take the quiz….

  • August 7, 2018 at 6:55 pm

    My husband has pulled back so much that sex is his punishment towards me. We haven’t had sex of any kind in 6 years. He makes up every excuse in the book. I caught him 3 yrs ago in an affair. I even wonder if he has gay tendencies. He has low T but refuses to take the hormone replacement or buy Viagra. He tells me it’s too much money. So basically intimacy isn’t worth it in his eyes but will buy new cars. I’ve tried everything to be a compassionate woman. He is 65 and I’m 59.

    • August 12, 2018 at 1:40 am

      Hi Denise,
      That sounds painful. Sex is an important connection for couples at any age, but it takes two. If your husband is willing, couples counseling might help get to the heart of why he is withholding. Thank you for sharing your story. Dan

  • August 11, 2018 at 11:11 pm

    Thank you for the excellent and concise summary of this very common interpersonal relationship problem. As a therapist who also works with couples in private practice, as well as with children in a school setting, I would just like to add that this pursuer/distancer dynamic can happen in ALL relationships, not just romantic ones. It also happens between siblings and platonic friends of all ages and, sadly, even between parent and child. I often see this dynamic among schoolchildren on the playground. And as mentioned in the article, at the root of this problem are attachment issues, or fears. Or, to frame it in a slightly more positive way, this dynamic happens when people are trying to get their very human, and often conflicting, needs met.


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