The Pursuing-Distancing Relationship Dynamic

Dear Toni--

I have been in a relationship of sorts for the last 2 yrs where the guy pursued me in the beginning but then I was not sure of him so I didn't reciprocate. He sat me down in the first 6 months and asked me how I felt and what I thought about him. I said I liked him, but his reaction said that this was not the response he was looking for. I did try to call it quits and remain friends in the first year because we come from different religious backgrounds, but it didn't last too long---he was back again in 3 months and before I knew it I began trying to make things work, but by then he appeared to be distant.

We started seeing each other again in this last year, but it was very occasionally and I was unhappy with it because I wanted to know where it was going. We had a big blow out a couple of month ago because I invited him for lunch and he didn't pitch me about the relationship. I haven't heard from him since then, even though I did email him once. I sent him a text message apologizing for my behavior during the argument and he replied with a generic text message.

We work for the same company and he showed up at my desk two weeks ago to say hi and it was nice to see me. How am I supposed to respond to this, and should I even consider it? --Fell off the Pedestal

Dear Fell off the pedestal--

Your situation can be summed up as a pursuing-distancing relationship dynamic. He took several steps towards you, and your response was to take even more back away from him. Then, when he stepped back, you began to move aggressively forward. Now that he is very distant, you seem determined to pursue him, even though some real time has elapsed since the argument and his disinterest has been evident. He did give a mixed message when he stopped by your desk- but he may be trying to heal the conflict due to the fact that you work for the same company. Whatever his reasons, he has not indicated any interest in getting back together.

In a nutshell, you appear to want him when he doesn't want you. I would recommend that you stop pursuing him and turn your attention to your relationship readiness--which includes looking at any patterns (maybe like this one) in your past and examining how you really feel about relationships and commitment. Men who are unavailable can be very attractive to the commitment-phobe, and the reverse is true as well. As Groucho Marx once said; "I wouldn't want to join a country club that has me as a member." Could it be that you don't want any man who truly wants you?

(from October 2011)

Want to read other columns on this subject?

"Friends or More?"
List of more
"Soul mates or Something else"

"Down and Confused About Being Dumped "


Toni Coleman, LCSW
Phone: 703-847-1768


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