Home > abandonment, Outer Child > The Push/Pull in Relationships

The Push/Pull in Relationships

I’ve had several people write to me about the push/pull dynamics in their love relationships.

I’ve experienced this dynamic myself. I can remember in an early relationship, I wanted more from my boyfriend. We were in college and other women were interested in him, and he had not made me feel as if “he only had eyes for me.” I wasn’t sure that he was the committed type who could ignore other possibilities. So the stronger I felt about him, the less I trusted him. It wasn’t him, it was me.

I knew that if I acted too needy, that would be the kiss of death – so I acted the opposite. The more madly in love with him I felt, the more I tried to play “hard-to-get.”

To this day, I think he read right through it. But we certainly never could get the relationship to the “safety zone.” I was too busy playing games and feeling needy and desperate for a love-fix from him.

When someone withholds what we want from them – love, sex, affection (or if we perceive a possible threat to their love for us), it increases our neediness for them.

When we feel secure and all or most of our needs are reasonably met, we are generally able to function quite independently – as long as we know that our loved one is feeling pretty much the same way about us as we feel about them. That there is a mutual pull toward each other.

Under these secure conditions, we don’t have to be reassured every five minutes. We can go about our independent business – get together with other friends, take care of personal business – confidently knowing that they are there for us somewhere in the background. We feel empowered by this sense of security.

When we feel secure like this, our loved one becomes our “background object.” It is at this point that it is easy for us to take them for granted. But if we know anything about the creative process of love, we will not let this happen, and we will nourish this relationship with loving deeds and intimate moments – to keep the relationship alive and thriving.

But when the person we love doesn’t seem to (or we perceive it that way) want us as much as we want them, we lose that sense of security and our needs for reassurance for them intensify. This is when push/pull dynamics set in.

What to do? Recognize that push/pull never works, it only intensifies unequal positions on both ends. Instead pursue mutuality. Remain symmetrical with the other person. Or if we are truly being neglected, we need to get out so that we can find someone else to have a mutual relationship with.

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  1. August 4, 2010 at 3:00 pm

    this is so true but also so full of fear of the unknown. it takes real courage to be and for yourself. well worth the effort, we are lovable.

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