Mandy Kloppers

Push Pull relationships

You may be wondering what a ‘push pull’ relationship is and whether you have ever experienced one. It’s a common dynamic that emerges in many relationships and is a typical example of game playing. One partner gushes over the other, full of praise and keen interest (the pusher). The other person enjoys the attention and gets lulled into a false sense of security. They revel in the attention and feel special and valued. The pusher then seems to lose interest and pulls away causing the other partner to immediately wonder what they have done wrong.

This is classic push and pull relationship and leaves couples full of tension and instability. Of course some people thrive on this dynamic but the truth is that no one’s emotions can withstand this kind of emotional roller coaster indefinitely. Sooner or later. emotions become frayed and insecurities become insurmountable.

We all like a bit of a challenge in a relationship but the classic push pull manouvre can become emotionally exhausting. We think we are loved and accepted, and then the rug gets pulled and we begin to doubt our perceptions. What have I done? I thought they liked me but now I don’t understand why they have changed their attitude and behaviour towards me?

This situation can be very confusing for mentally healthy and balanced people. The constant second guessing is no fun. The perceived rejection causes the receiver of the push-pull behaviour to do their best to regain the love and attention they felt in the beginning. They pursue the ‘pusher’ thereby putting them back in charge of the relationship – the ball is now in the pusher’s court, so to speak. A powerless place to be for the unsuspecting person who is just looking for love.

The typical longevity of this type of relationship is about two years. Learn to recognise the dynamic and steer clear of it. Pushers are often afraid of commitment and put these emotional barriers in place to control the status of the relationship. Sadly, people who experienced a lack of love in childhood might be drawn to this familiar pattern of having to fight for love and become addicted to trying to get the pusher to change their ways, usually unsuccessfully. They fear abandonment and try harder to please the pusher which ironically forces the pusher away even further.

Recognising the pattern is the first step and if both people see they are trying to heal old wounds, they can start to heal and trust, breaking the pattern in the process.

Love should feel good, safe and wonderful not fearful, scary and hard work.

Mandy X