Relationship Withdrawal: The Cycle

Jasbina Ahluwalia asks Dr. Lisa Bobby, a Board Certified Life Coach: What are the most common kinds of negative patterns that you see pre-marital couples engage in?

This could be couples that you work with or don’t, but you know this and you wish they would consider coming in to you.



Dr. Lisa Bobby

Relationship Withdrawal and Perusal: Attachment Theory

There is one particular very common relationship pattern that couples very frequently fall into. It’s what is called a pursue/withdraw dynamic.

Let me explain what that means. It’s based on attachment theory.  It’s the idea that people need to feel safe and secure with each other.


Relationship Withdrawal: Pull Away

Person A, most frequently women although not always, will start to feel like their partner is pulling away.

Maybe they feel unloved or that their partner isn’t there for them the way they want them to.


Relationship Withdrawal: Pursue to Fix

In order to try and get their partner to reengage, they tend to pursue. This can sound like criticism, anger or even outright hostility.

A perusal is, “Hey, where did you go? This is bothering me. I’m upset with you. Why is this happening?” You have that angry perusal.


Relationship Withdrawal

On the other side of that is the withdrawer.

A withdrawer might experience their partner as being hostile, critical or contemptuous.

They start to feel emotionally unsafe in the relationship.

As a result, they begin to pull away. They begin to shut down. They begin to protect themselves.


Relationship Withdrawal Increase

This creates a system where, the more someone withdraws, the more someone else has to pursue and vice versa.

That is a very common relationship pattern that I see in many couples in pre-marital counseling and in regular marriage counseling.


Relationship Withdrawal: Recognize the Pattern

It’s important that people notice what’s happening and take action to change that pattern.

Unless there is intervention and it is intentionally stopped, that pattern tends to get worse over time, not better.


Tell Us:

Have you experienced relationship withdrawal? How did you overcome this distance? Share with us below in the comments section.


The above is an excerpt from Jasbina’s interview with Dr. Lisa Bobby

The entire interview transcript is at: Dr. Lisa Bobby Interview – Relationship Patterns (and How to Overcome Them)

Listen to the entire interview on: Intersections Match Talk Radio – Jasbina’s Lifestyle Show

Listen to the entire interview on Blog Talk Radio: NetIP Spotlight- Live Your Potential: Relationship Patterns (and How to Overcome Them) – Dr. Lisa Bobby

Listen to the entire interview on iTunes