Which way to go?

Relationships have many elements to them: Trust. Respect. The usual kinds of love, affection, and intimacy. The list goes on.

They also ebb and flow, both when starting up and when in trouble. There are a number of patterns of behavior.

Some time ago, a good friend sent me this pattern that some couples follow:
“I follow you, and you flee me. I flee you, and you follow me.”

Does it describe a natural ebbing and flowing? Or does it represent a power struggle? I’m not sure.

The “I flee you, and you follow me” second half may depend on a power change between the two partners. This is not a certain thing. If “I flee you” is followed by “and you forget me” then…oops! An outcome like this would be possible if the second person only had the illusion of control.

The first half also has a possible hiccup. Perhaps “I follow you, and you flee me” occurs because the first person appears ‘needy’ or ‘desperate’. It’s not uncommon for someone to flee if they feel pursued too vigorously. It might explain why we try to be ‘cool’ when dating — to avoid giving off signals that may cause the other to flee. It also gives cause for pause…how often do couples split because of misperceptions like this?

I don’t have answers; I’ve been puzzling over this for a while. But I do wonder if the phenomenon is real. If so, is there a ‘smarter’ way that we can approach budding relationships or stay in relationships?


About Single Dad

I married young. Now, after more than 20 years of marriage, 3 wonderful daughters, and many ups and downs, my wife has decided the marriage is over. The "About Me" and "My Background" pages on my blog have more details.
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16 Responses to Which way to go?

  1. Caroline says:

    Ah – my LC writes a great deal on the subject – recommend a quick read through of his blog posts!

    It’s all to do with Relationship Education and how we all need it! I think he’s right!
    (There’s a link on my blog)!!

  2. mysterycoach says:

    Communication…very important. πŸ™‚

    • I completely agree that communication is very important. It’s the oil that keeps a relationship alive.

      But, and I apologize for disagreeing, it’s not the case here. This is more about who-likes-who-the-most and how that balance can change over time, specifically how it can twist and turn on relatively short notice. If there is an underlying pattern to it, the more both partners understand that pattern, the easier it might be to avoid going down the wrong path.

      • mysterycoach says:

        Oh my πŸ™‚ I never mind you disagreeing with me. We all have our perspectives on a situation. I hear what you’re saying about who likes who the most and how that balance can change. However it’s like “what changed it”… which also does require people to communicate as well how they’re feeling and why these feelings rise and ebb. Know what I mean?

        Sometimes πŸ™‚ It’s simple PMS … LOL (I’m being cheeky, I’m tired today… or it could be any different number of things where we don’t express to our partners what works for us and what doesn’t. Like a friend of mine, she would compliment me and there was always a “but” … you should do “this” instead or wouldn’t THIS be better…

        Over time I started to resent her compliments and it started to affect the relationship. Maybe not as relevant as I’d like it to be. I finally figured out she was taking away from me the same time she was lifting me up and asked her to stop. She has πŸ™‚ Problem solved.

        This goes to many other things as well. All about communication. Course, who we’re talking to would be helpful to be able to express what we need and would like as well, which also goes both ways. Am I making more sense ? I’m bushed… LOL πŸ™‚

  3. Lady E says:

    I do think most relationship follow this pattern, and the skill lies in keeping things balanced. As you said, a needy person is unattractive, and one of the parties withdrawing from a relationship is a sure way to kill it.

    What do you do to keep this balance then? Not sure, but I would hazard that as Mystery Coach outlined communication, openness and trust play a big part in it. As does fulfilling your partner’s needs in the way Caroline’s LC outlines: Women, make you men feel important and good, men, protect and reassure your women.

    But then again, what do I really know?
    Good luck

    • Re: “What do you do to keep this balance then?” Indeed, the hardest part. Beyond communication, I think understanding how the relationship might flow is important.

      Also, things change over time. What seems needy today might be considered affectionate tomorrow. What seems ‘playing it cool’ today might be aloof and distant tomorrow. Were relationships always this difficult?!

  4. TikkTok says:

    Ah, that’s the thrill of the chase. This goes nicely with “Be careful for what you wish for; you might just get it.” I think people like the feeling of being pursued. But what happens when that which is being pursued is caught? This is when the one doing the chasing now realizes maybe they didn’t want to catch the person they were chasing; they just wanted to see if they could catch the person.

    Juvenile. Does this happen in actual relationships? Probably not in established relationships.

    Ground rules are a necessity, imo. There is nothing wrong with laying out there as far as expectations. If you are pursuing me and I haven’t told you that I appreciate taps every now and then during the week, how will you know? Maybe the last girl you were interested in felt “smothered” if you contacted her at all; maybe she was overwhelmed if you contacted her more than once a week.

    But me? I can’t expect “you” to meet my expectations if I don’t tell you what those are. I can’t read minds, and I don’t expect you to.

    I think open communication and putting it out there can speed things up and weed folks out. If you are interested in marriage, why are you wasting time with someone who is not?

    ‘Course, I am totally out of practice on the dating scene, and God willing, there will never be a need to go back to it. I just am not a fan of games *at all.* πŸ˜€

    • The “thrill of the chase” concept may also be quite relevant to Men Who Vanish. What does the barking dog do when it catches up to the car?

      I think that pursuing and smothering and needy and contact all factor into this. Sometimes I wonder how anybody ends up in a successful relationship when there is so much going on behind the scenes! With friends willing to offer their opinion, blogs to use to discuss and analyze, many modes of communication, work and family commitments, personal traumas from everyone’s past … aaarrghh! How do we do it at all? We can’t just jump in without thinking or without feelings. But we can’t hold off forever either. Decisions, decisions….

      • I think that a lot of the answer lies in the fact that it’s one of the many intangibles that either line up well for a couple or don’t. Like a lot of things — how often a person wants/needs sex, how much reassurance a person want/needs, how much “together time” a person wants/needs — I think these things can only be negotiated to a certain extent… I think the best relationships are the ones where most of those things just line up naturally and you’re left with that feeling that you really “fit” together.

  5. backonmyown says:

    Lots of food for thought here. One thing I know from experience–when the balance of power shifts heavily to one side or the other, there’s trouble. The definition of power can be a number of things: money, sex, time, etc.

    • Power is definitely a factor too. Shifts for a period of time shouldn’t be a long-term problem, but they can be. Someone loses their job and their confidence. A new baby. A loved one passes on. It’s no surprise that some of these stresses are triggers for deeper problems.

  6. Lost in France says:

    You have to be able to react to how the balance of power is in a relationship. If you have got used to be being the leader and being followed faithfully by your partner. It is difficult when you turn around and realise that they have decided to go off in their own direction.

    • When my runaway wife started work again after 18 years, I was ready and primed for difficulties that we would need to talk through. I expected there to be changes in the relationship because I would need to pick up more of the work in the house and she would have different demands on her time.

      Surprisingly that seemed to work out OK. At least, until she left… πŸ™‚

  7. I know you havent had a chance to get to know me or my personality yet. Do not take anything personal that I say. The only way I know how to talk is to say what I feel.

    Personally, I do not believe in playing games. I dont like chasing or being chased. I believe that people should be honest. If you like a person, you should tell them. If you dont, you need to let them know in the most gentlest way. No games played. I believe honestly is the best policy. I believe we are equals, there should not be a leader. Sure, one may be stronger in one thing than the other, but it equals out. We all have different strengths. Kind of like the man takes care of some stuff like the car, maintenance of the home. Yet the woman takes care of the house keeping, laundry etc…I dont think a man should control a woman nor a woman control a man. We should be equal and blend. Like gears, to make things run smoothly. I think it has a lot to do with respect. Am I making sense??

    Now my oldest who is 17…her and her boyfriend play the ‘flee, follow me’ game ALL the time. It absolutely drives me nuts. But they are immature also. They dont know. I think it excites them. I find no excitement in wondering if after I have pushed someone away, will they come back to me. I personally do not like the heart ache, upset stomach, empty, scared feeling that is associated with it. I think it is a waste of energy and time.

    I would much more enjoy the secure, happy feeling. πŸ™‚

    P.S. If you ever notice that I have left an ‘f’ out somewhere in my comments, it is because the ‘f’ key on my laptop does not work. I have to paste it in and sometimes I miss it. πŸ™‚

  8. Hi Amy,

    First, welcome! Please feel free to comment in any way you want. I am very happy to have an honest opinion, whether it’s in agreement with or in contrast to anything I’ve said.

    My girls are between 13 and 19, so they seem to be in a similar age range to yours. It’s my middle daughter that I have to watch more carefully with relationships even though, so far, she’s been careful and each has been almost a year long. For her age, that’s not too bad at all.

    Regarding the “F” key, I will definitely edit and correct your if you uck up some typing.. πŸ™‚

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