By Guest Blogger Gray Moulton, LMFT, CST Therapist
When it comes to sex, it’s usually fairly easy to discover whether or not you are the pursuer as opposed to the distancer. Much of the time, though not always, men initiate sex. We can call them the Pursuers. If you keep trying to initiate sex and almost always end up feeling rejected you would be the pursuer. Women are often known to be the pursuers for conversation rather than sex (not always). We can refer to them as the Distancers . If you’re the party who isn’t interested, and feel you can’t make the effort, you’re the distancer.
So what happens now?
Generally when a client comes into my office complaining about this issue, they have already made their stances and dread even going to bed at night. This dread turns to resentment, anger and hurt. The pursuer feels constantly rejected. The distancer feels she can’t even kiss her partner hello at the end of the work day for fear that he may want sex. The pursuer-distancer dance has begun.
As a therapist, this is the point when I share with the couple that the longer you allow the dance to continue in this way, the more hurt you both become. You must realize and see the issue at hand and ask for help.
Sadly there is truly only one way to break this cycle. The pursuer needs to stop pursuing and the distancer needs to stop distancing. Yep, it’s that easy. WRONG! It’s hard folks. Neither party wants to admit that they need to change. Neither sees their side as the issue at hand.
Here are the facts though. If you are constantly pursuing, it is imperative that you realize that nothing will change for you while you are constantly pursuing sex. You will most likely be rejected and the wall will be built. You’ll deal with a very resentful, cold, angry partner. You have to stop pursuing. In addition, and likely even harder for you, you really need to take all of your anger and rejection feelings and stash them in a box on the shelf in your brain. Showing anger over pursuing will only lead to the same outcome of no change.
If you’re the distancer, it is imperative that you begin the processes of initiating sex even when you don’t feel like doing it. Keep in mind though, sex doesn’t have to be intercourse all of the time. Sometimes just touch in general is something that your partner craves and this may be helpful to rebuild the broken bridges that have formed. Let’s face it, you can’t ask your partner to live in a sexless marriage and expect them to remain happy. You especially can’t ask your partner to do this if their love language is one of intimacy. They may never feel loved.
So how do you break this pattern?
First and foremost, you both need to accept that the pattern exists and needs to be corrected to improve the sustainability of the relationship.
Secondly, realize that your reactions affect your partner so they truly need to be changed. This means taking responsibility for your reactions. Blame is the first thing that needs to go. When you stop blaming each other and look at how you each are a part of the problem, you’ll find relief quickly.
Once the pattern has been discovered and talked about in an open frame of mind, a therapist can help you to talk about what led to the pattern. Were you given different thoughts while growing up about the roles of sex within a relationship? Does religion play a major role in the difficulties? Do you feel you aren’t experienced enough or over experienced? Seeking help to get some of these questions (and more) answered will help you to achieve a deeper level of communication thus leading to a deeper and broadened understand of each other.
Has this happened in your relationship? What kind of advice can you share with other readers?