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What is the Distancer/Pursuer Relationship?
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Incompatibility is often the complaint that fuels frustration in a relationship.  Most relationships are not compatible.  Most start out as opposites that bring a sense of completeness over time.  On the front end of a relationship there is usually a sense that maybe we have made a mistake.  Maybe we should not be together.  You are not necessarily expected to be compatible.  A common pattern that reflects this is the distancer/pursuer relationship.  This has to do with how they each handle conflict.  One becomes distant or withdrawn during times of conflict and the other partner cannot let the matter go until it is resolved.  This feels like a formula for disaster but when you learn that doing the right thing is better than being right, you find compatibility.

Family upbringing has a lot to do with how you handle conflict.  In some families, the worst thing you can do if a disagreement occurs is to walk away.  You should stay there and hash it out until the matter is resolved.  In other families, the worst thing you can do if a disagreement occurs is to continue to argue.  You should part company until you have had time to cool off and think things through.  You then come back together as a couple and resolve the issue.  Interestingly enough, these two different type backgrounds usually come together in relationships.  So which one is right?  You can make a good case for either one because they both have merit to them.  Both have pluses and minuses.

Bill and Lisa have a pattern that reflects the distancer/pursuer relationship.  It goes like this.  An argument begins one morning in the kitchen before Bill goes to work.  He wants to have the matter resolved so he is not distracted by this while at work.  Lisa becomes anxious at Bill’s insistence that the matter be straightened out, so she leaves the room. 

Bill‘s response is “Oh no you don’t” and he pursues her to the next room. 

Each time, Bill tries to make his point or may even try to apologize but Lisa feels smothered by Bill’s pressure.  She goes from room to room with Bill hot on her trail.  She eventually says something mean or cold that causes Bill to either throw his hands up in aggravation or he retreats with a sad hopelessness.  A day or two passes and Lisa is now ready to face the issue.  She has had enough time to process her thoughts and feelings on the matter.  She approaches Bill, only to get a cold shoulder from him. 
He responds by pouting, “Oh no, you had your chance two days ago.” 

He now sulks in his righteous hurt until she apologizes enough to draw him back into the relationship.  The pattern will likely repeat as the next conflict or potential conflict arises.

Please get your friends and family on my mailing list because the next several issues will be life changing.  They need to read these messages.  If you are not sure you want to put them on my email list now, keep it in mind because you will want to after you read them.


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About Author

Mark Webb is the author of How To Be A Great Partner and founder of Partner Focused Relationships™. Sign up for Mark Webb’s “Relationship Strategies” Ezine ($100 Value). Just visit his website at or

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