The real reason your girlfriend pulls away

 

Girlfriend Pulls Away

 

Source: Big Stock Photo

 

It sucks, doesn’t it?

That gut-wrenching feeling when your girlfriend pulls away.

 

You try everything you see in the movies to woo her back…

You show up on her doorstep with a bouquet of red roses

You write her a poem that would have melted Hannibal Lectors heart 

You hire The Righteous Brothers to sing Unchained Melody under her bedroom window

 

But, she greets these grand gestures with a tepid smile.

 

You’re left feeling confused, frantic, desperately dreaming of the magic of when you first met…

 

The sizzling texts, the stolen kisses, and good god the sex! As if you were the last two people left alive, and your soul purpose was to re-populate the planet.

 

Yet, your girlfriend means more to you than sexual chemistry. Because she’s the only one that understands you, the only one who makes you feel complete.

 

Sadly, you start to accept that the relationship is over.

 

Until

 

She suddenly bounces back into your life with a wink and a smile.

 

Few! You can relax! It was all in your mind, right?

That is… up until your girlfriend pulls away once again.

 

No doubt, your girlfriend pulling away is enough to drive you crazy.

But, have you ever wondered why the two of you become caught up in this cycle?

 

To understand the reason you and your girl play out this drama, we’ll need to go back to a time before the two of you even met. In fact, we’ll only be able to unravel this mystery if we go back to a time when you were both in diapers.

 

And, by diapers, I mean when you were both infants. I’m not referring to that weird sex game the two of you played once after having a few drinks 😉

 

Seriously, if you want to find out why your girlfriend pulls away, then continue reading because you’re about to discover the answer.

 

A Relationship Secret Discovered By Psychologists.

 

Psychologists know why your girlfriend pulls away

 

Source: Big Stock Photo

 

Let’s solve the mystery of why your girlfriend pulls away by firstly zooming out to take in the bigger picture.

 

And that will be achieved through briefly looking into the field of evolutionary psychology. Specifically, we’re interested in attachment theory.

 

I can almost hear you thinking.

 

“Evolutionary Psychology? Attachment Theory? That sounds like some heavy shit!”

 

But, stick with me here, as the basics are simple to grasp, and I’ll be providing lots of jargon-free examples.

 

Ready to get started?

 

The father of Attachment Theory, John Bowlby, preposed that your personality is shaped, during childhood, by the emotional bond you develop with your parental figures (Holmes, 1993). This means that as a child, you developed expectations, assumptions, and beliefs about others based upon your interactions with your parents. Psychologists refer to this process as your childhood attachment style.

 

Psychologists propose that your childhood attachment style falls into one of three categories; secure, anxious-avoidant, and anxious-ambivalent (Ainsworth, M. et al., 1978).

 

Let me walk you through each of these categories because distinguishing the difference between them will become clearer later on.

 

Secure attachment style:

Children who display indicators of a secure attachment style view their parents as a source of warmth, love, empathy, safety, and consistency.

 

For example:

Tears cascade down Rachels face as she clutches her grazed knee.

She’s three years old, and while running down the garden to play on the swings, she tripped and landed on a concrete path.

Kim, Rachel’s mother, comes rushing out of the house upon hearing her sobs, she takes in the scene and crouches down in front of Rachel.

Through a watery gaze, Rachel takes in Kim’s compassionate face.

Kim gently pulls her daughter’s hands away to look at her poor knee. She then takes Rachel indoors, to clean the graze, and provides a comforting hug.

Rachel, feeling soothed, loved and calmed by Kim, happily heads back outside to continue playing.

 

Rachel learns, from repeated interactions like this with her mother, to expect others to respond in a warm, understanding, and loving way.

 

Anxious-Ambivalent Attachment Style:

Children who display indicators of an anxious-ambivalent attachment style view their parents as inconsistent in their emotional responses; at times, they respond with overbearing warmth & understanding, and other times they react with coldness & anger.  

 

For example:

Gary limps down the garden path into the house, intending to find his mother, Sally. 

He’s worried about how Sally will react when she sees the large whole in his new jeans, and his bleeding knee, will she be comforting or withdrawn? 

Sally stands at the kitchen sink and peers down upon feeling a tug at her dresses hem. 

Gary registers Sally’s fleeting expressions, her lips purse with irritation as she takes in his jeans, followed by her eyes softening with sympathy as she sees his tear-stained cheeks.

“Look at the state of you! Well, I guess we’d better clean you up,” she says, sharply.

Gary breathes a sigh of relief as Sally hasn’t blown up at him.

Silently, Sally cleans his knee and sends Gary off on his way.

 

Gary learns, from repeated interactions like this with his mother, to expect others to react unpredictably, will his need for comfort be accepted or rejected?

 

Anxious-Avoidant Attachment Style:

Children who display indicators of an anxious-avoidant attachment style view their parents as emotionally unavailable, distant, and cold.

 

For example:

Tina desperately tries to stifle her sobs as she clutches her grazed knee.

She is afraid of waking her father, Peter, because of his explosive temper.

Suddenly, the backdoor crashes open, and Tina sees Peter storming across the garden in her direction.

He towers above her and, through gritted teeth, demands to know what’s wrong.

Tina tentatively shows him her poor knee. 

Peter responds by dragging her into the house by the arm, where he roughly cleans the wound and warns Tina not to disturb him again. 

Tina rushes outside, wipes away her streaming tears, and withdraws that little bit further into herself.

 

Tina learns, from repeated interactions like this with her father, to only depend upon herself as she expects rejection if others come to close.

 

I know that’s a lot to take in. 

 

But, keep reading because your about to discover the relationship secret that Psychologists have known since the ’80s.

 

You see, attachment theory isn’t only limited to the study of children, and their interactions with parental figures. In the 1980s Attachment, Psychologists expanded the concept to include adults (Hazan, C. & Shaver, P, 1994).

 

Specifically, the Psychologists hypothesized that a link exists between how an adult’s attachment style developed during childhood, influenced their choice of, and interactions with romantic partners.

 

The scientists who conducted these studies with couples discovered that this link exists, which means, that your attachment style partly influences who you subconsciously choose as a partner, and how you interact with them.

 

And, this also means that your girlfriend’s attachment style partly influences why she subconsciously chose you as a partner, and how she interacts with you.

 

Okay, this brings us to the end of the bigger picture stuff, which means you now understand how Psychologists explain the role of Attachment Theory in partner selection.

 

This also means you’re now prepared to move onto the next section, where we’ll be zooming into the specific reason your girlfriend pulls away..

 

Avoid Falling Into A Common Relationship Trap.

 

Avoid a common relationship trap

 

Source: Big Stock Photo

 

Let’s jump into an exercise that will reveal your adult attachment style.

 

Why start there?

 

Because once you understand how your attachment style interacts with your partners, then you hold in your hands the power to start reconnecting with her in a healthy, calm, and potent way.

 

Sound good?

 

You’ll find descriptions for the three adult attachment styles in the following sections; secure, anxious-preoccupied, and anxious-dismissive. 

 

You must be thinking.

 

Why are we using different terms for us adults?

 

I know it’s confusing, and honestly? I would love to be able to give you the right answer. 🙁

 

Let’s get to it!

 

For the first part of this exercise, I’d like you to read through the three descriptions and the associated behavioral statements. And, consider which of the adult attachment styles most accurately depict how you interact with your girlfriend. 

 

(thank you to the guys over at Ever Green Psychotherapy Centre for inspiring these descriptions).

 

Ready?

 

Secure attachment style:

Description: You possess a positive view of self, and a positive view of others 

 

If you possess this attachment style, then you’ll recognize yourself in the following statements:

  • I am comfortable in a warm, loving, and emotionally close relationship.
  • I can depend upon my partner, and my partner can rely upon me.
  • I accept my partner’s need for separateness without feeling rejected or threatened.
  • I express my emotions in a grounded, open, and honest way. 

 

Anxious-Preoccupied Attachment Style:

Description: You possess a negative view of self, and a positive view of others

 

If you possess this attachment style, then you’ll recognize yourself in the following statements:

  • I always worry that my partner will reject or abandon me
  • I need constant reassurance from my partner 
  • I ruminate over unresolved issues from previous relationships and my family.
  • I avoid conflict and communicate my emotional needs in a passive-aggressive way.

 

Dismissive Avoidant Attachment Style:

Description: You possess a positive view of self and a negative view of others.

 

If you possess this attachment style, then you’ll recognize yourself in the following statements:

  • I keep my partner at arm’s length by being emotionally distant and rejecting 
  • I view intimacy as a loss of independence 
  • I am unable to depend upon my partner
  • I bottle up my emotions to the point where they explode.

 

So, out of the three adult attachment styles, which most accurately describes your predominant way of interacting with your girlfriend?

 

Let me guess

 

You’re confused because you see yourself possessing behaviors from all three descriptions.

 

But don’t worry, as that’s a typical response.

 

For example, I predominantly possess behaviors that align with the description for preoccupied avoidant. However, I also recognize characteristics that fit with-in the secure and dismissive-avoidant responses.

 

If you’re still unclear which description most accurately describes your predominant attachment style, then I suggest reading through the three again before moving onto part two of this exercise.

 

For the second part of this exercise, I’d like you to read through the three attachment style descriptions once again. 

 

However…

 

During this second read through, I’d like you to enter a place in your imagination where you read the descriptions as if you were your girlfriend. 

 

“You want me to do what?”

 

Yes, Yes, I know, that sounds like a crazy idea.

 

But, stay with me now, because here’s the bottom line.

 

If you’re unwilling to shift your perspective through exercises like this, then you most likely will lose her for good.

 

And, even if the two of you break up, then you’ll probably be doomed to encounter this problem in future relationships.

 

I’m sure you’ll agree that this outcome is something you want to avoid, right? 

 

All you have to do, to shift your perspective, is re-read the three adult descriptions as if you were your girl. Then, when you finish, come back here to discover if you’re falling into a common relationship trap.

 

So, Out of the three adult attachment styles, which most accurately describe your girlfriend’s predominant way of interacting with you?

 

Now, I’m going to make a bet with you.

 

I’m betting that you identified with the description for preoccupied anxious-avoidant, and you concluded from part two of the exercise that your girlfriend would most likely identify with a Dismissive anxious-avoidant attachment style.

 

And, if I’ve guessed correctly, then that’s not because I’m spying on you, although that would be the sort of thing a spy would say, right?.

 

… By the way, isn’t it about time you deleted your internet history? You filthy beast;-)

 

Here’s the thing…

 

Approximately 20% of the population fall into this common relationship trap. Whereby, a person who meets the description for preoccupied avoidant subconsciously chooses a partner who matches the characteristics for dismissive-avoidant, and visa versa (Collins, N.L. & Freeney, B.C. (2004)).

 

Let’s look at an example of this relationship dynamic in action, to clarify the reason this trap causes you a problem.

 

 Suppose that Gary and Tina, two of the children introduced earlier, meet as adults.

They’ve been dating for six months, and they both enjoy each other’s company. However, the couple becomes caught up in a vicious cycle.

 

The prospect of falling in love with Gary terrifies Tina.

Because she learned to expect, from interacting with her father, that if she allows the person she loves too close, then this will eventually lead to her feeling rejected.

 

So, Tina uses an avoidant attachment strategy to protect herself from expected rejection, which means, that she avoids rejection by pulling away (i.e., withdrawing into herself).

 

However, Gary has fallen in love with Tina, and the prospect of losing her terrifies him. 

Because he learned to expect, from interacting with his mother, that if significant people in his life withdraw, then this will eventually lead to him feeling rejected.

 

So, Gary uses an avoidant attachment strategy to protect himself from expected rejection, which means that he avoids rejection by trying to move emotionally closer.

 

Are you starting to see the reason this relationship trap causes Gary and Tina a problem?

 

Because, the more Gary and Tina try to avoid rejection, than the further they push each other away.

 

Eventually, this strain will become more than the couple can bare. And, when that happens, they will be confronted with three options.

 

Option 1:

Gary gives up on trying to receive a positive response from Tina, and he decides to break up.

 

Option 2:

Tina grows tired of Gary trying to move closer, and she decides to breakup 

 

What’s the downside here?

 

If either of them breaks up because of option 1 or 2, then the downside is they’ll be using an avoidant attachment strategy, which means that the real reason they broke-up remains unresolved—for instance, their fear of rejection, loss, separation, and abandonment.

 

Furthermore, this causes them a longer-term problem, which goes beyond their relationship. 

 

Because Gary will most likely subconsciously choose a new girlfriend who also has a dismissive-avoidant attachment style. Likewise, Tina will most likely subconsciously choose a new boyfriend who has a preoccupied attachment style.

 

They’ll fall into this relationship trap again, with new partners, unless one of them consciously chooses option 3. 

 

Fortunately, you’ll be learning about how to use option three in the following section.

 

5 Steps To Winning Her Back.

 

How to win your girlfriend back when she pulls away

 

Source: Unsplash

 

If like Gary, you’re frustrated when your girlfriend pulls away, then you’re ready for a new strategy, you’re prepared to change your mindset, you’re ready for option 3.

 

Option 3 offers you a simple yet profound solution. Here’s the basic principle.

 

So far, you’ve been trying to win your girlfriend over using an anxious-avoidant strategy, which you know doesn’t work. Therefore, the solution is to switch to a secure attachment strategy instead.

 

What does that mean?

 

You sit down with her and communicate in a grounded, open, and honest way.

 

I know what you’re thinking.

 

“That’s it? You mean I’ve read through this whole article, and your best advice is that I sit down and talk to my girlfriend? What do you think I’ve been trying to do for the last couple of weeks!”

 

Yes, I know this advice seems obvious. But, let me explain the difference. 

 

Recently, when you’ve sat down to talk, you’ve most likely been sub-communicating your fear of rejection. Consequently, your girlfriend pulls away even further.

 

So, the difference with option 3, using a secure attachment strategy, centers around your intentions and mindset.

 

Let’s look at an example of a secure attachment strategy, which consists of five straight-forward and actionable steps.

 

Step 1: Demonstrate Your Restraint When Your Girlfriend Pulls Away.

Currently, your girlfriend pulls away because she’s worried that she’s losing her independence, she’s feeling smothered, which leads to her withdrawing.

 

Therefore, you start by giving her space to breathe and time for reconnecting with herself. Meaning, you dial back on the number of times you reach out to contact her each day.

 

For example, if you’re currently texting, and calling her more than three times daily, then dial back down to one text every couple of days.

 

Naturally, this step will seem counter-intuitive to you because your fear of expected rejection will rear its ugly head. 

 

Nevertheless, you show her your strength by demonstrating your restraint, and that’s a critical part of winning her back, as you’ll discover in step 2.

 

Step 2: Re-ignite Her Desire For You 

You’ve shown her your restraint, and this means that you’ve given her imagination a chance to start wondering about you.

 

Here’s why that’s critical.

 

Have you heard expressions like ‘absence makes the heart grow fonder’? Or ‘give her the gift of missing you’?

 

These sayings refer to the psychological relationship between scarcity and desire. Meaning, a person’s desire increases in proportion to the scarcity of an available resource (which includes other people) (Cialdini, R. 1984).  

 

Here’s the point.

 

Through demonstrating you’re restraint, you become a scares resource that is less freely available. Which means your creating emotional and psychological space for her feelings of desire to re-ignite?

 

You’ll know when her desire is re-igniting when she takes the lead in initiating contact.

 

And, that will be your queue to suggest getting together for a talk, by sending her a simple message, something like:

 

“Hey, I’ve liked the two of us to get together for a talk. Are you free on (date-time)?”

 

Once she agrees, then it’s time to adopt the right mindset by setting a clear intention.

 

Step 3: Set Your Intentions.

You feel anxious overseeing her because you’re putting yourself under pressure not to fuck things up.

 

For this reason, you’ll set aside time before you meet to prepare your mindset by consciously setting clear intentions.

 

But how do you set a clear intention?

 

You set a clear intention by following this simple process:

  1. Write 1-5 behaviors that you intend to display during the talk.
  2. Find a comfortable position, and completely relax.
  3. Spend 5-15 minutes visualizing yourself, displaying the behaviors during the conversation.
  4. Open your eyes, and immediately re-read your intentions.
  5. Rinse and repeat until you’re clear in your mind how you intend to show up.

 

Here’s a list of example intentions for you to consider.

  • I will express myself openly and honestly.
  • I will remain grounded by focusing upon my breath, and feeling the weight of my body in the chair 
  • I will express my truth from a place of vulnerability 
  • I will regard my partner without judgment 

 

Equally, here’s a list of example intentions which focus upon behaviors to avoid:

  • I won’t demand answers from my girlfriend 
  • I won’t engage with my girlfriend to fix things 
  • I won’t use what my girlfriend says as a way of blaming or shaming her 

 

NOTE: In the examples above, you’ll notice that I didn’t say focus your intentions upon how your girlfriend reacts or on the specific outcome from the two of you coming together. Because these elements are outside of your control.

 

Step 4: Coming Together 

Finally, You’re sitting down together, and you become keenly aware that your stomach is churning with anxiety.

 

Yet, you’ve built a strong foundation in the previous step, which means you’re showing-up with her in a far more grounded, open, and honest way. 

 

So, How the heck do you start this conversation off?

 

You begin by being the one who opens up first.

 

Why is that important?

 

Because, by being the one to open up first, you express your vulnerability. As a result, your girlfriend will feel more comfortable sharing herself with you.

 

You could begin opening up with her by saying something like:

 

“I’ve noticed the distance between the two of us lately, and I’m afraid I’m losing you.”

 

If you notice your anxiety beginning to rise during the conversation, then take a calming breath and remember your intentions.

 

Step 5: Three Possible Outcomes 

You and your girlfriend have had this heart-to-heart conversation.

 

Now what?

 

You face three possible outcomes. Consider each of these before you meet so that you’re clear about how you’ll respond.

 

Outcome 1:

The orchestra swells, you gaze deeply into each other’s eyes, you lean towards each other for a passionate kiss, the end credits roll, and everyone lives happily ever after.

 

Outcome 2:

You negotiate the boundaries and terms of your relationship.

 

For instance, you agree to only see each other twice a week for three months, etc.

 

Outcome 3:

You agree that the relationship has run its course, and you both decide to break up.

 

Now, I know that breaking up isn’t your preferred option. But consider this.

 

If you execute steps 1 to 5, then you’ll be powerfully changed fundamentally.

 

Here’s why.

 

You’ve boldly faced your deep-rooted fear of rejection, you’ve looked into the eyes of dread, and fiercely proclaimed, “No more!”

 

Furthermore, you end the relationship with your self-respect intact, ready to meet and find someone who’s an excellent fit for you.

 

Do you think you could live with that? Knowing you’d come out of this as a wiser, stronger, and more desirable man?

 

Besides, if your relationship does come to an end, then don’t despair, because I’ve got you covered. Check out my article which includes six powerful ways to get over a breakup.

 

Become The Man Who Your Girl Can’t Be Without.

 

Expecting good things to happen in the futureSource: Big Stock Photo

 

You’ve been living in fear.

 

Fearing your relationship won’t work out.

Fearing those moments when your girlfriend pulls away.

Fearing that you’ll end up alone, in a dark, cold, empty room.

 

But, living in fear is a choice.

 

And, your time for choosing is right now..

 

Do you want to live with fear? Or, Do you want to become the man your girl has always dreamed about?

 

You can picture that man, right?

 

He’s the man who connects with her in a strong, calm, and potent way.

 

What if, you decided to become that man?

 

Imagine what that would be like for a moment…

 

Your girl’s face lighting up with joy when her man walks into the room. Because she knows, deep down in her soul, that she’s finally found the man who she can depend upon, the man who remains calm when the shit hits the fan, the man who fills her with throbbing sexual desire.

 

Believe it or not, you’ve already started becoming that man because you’ve read through to the end of this post. And, if you want to see your progress skyrocket, then you’ll start by facing your fears and going back to execute step 1.

 

 

References 

  • Ainsworth, M.D.S., Blehar, M. C., Waters, E., & Wall, S. (1978). Patterns of attachment: A psychological study of the strange situation. Hillsdale, NJ: Earlbaum.
  • Cialdini, R. B. (1984). Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion
  • Collins, N.L. & Freeney, B.C. (2004). An Attachment Theory Perspective on Closeness and Intimacy. In D.J. Mashek & A. Aron (Eds.), Handbook of Closeness, and Intimacy, pp. 163–188. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.
  • Hazan, C. & Shaver, P. “Attachment as an organizational framework for research on a close relationship.” Psychological Inquiry. 5 1-22, 1994.
  • Holmes J (1993) John Bowlby & Attachment Theory. Makers of modern psychotherapy. London: Routledge
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