Why a Wave and an Island find it hard to split up

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Fractious couples are often made up of one party who is ‘avoidant’ (hiding their intimacy needs) and one who is ‘anxious’ (nagging and pressuring counter productively for their intimacy needs to be met).

These couples go through cycles that run from cosiness to fury to sulk to blow up to cosiness. Why do these cycles happen and why are they so hard to break? What might be a better way forward?

“There is a certain sort of relationship that is alternately passionate, fiery and painfully unfulfilling – and that tends to puzzle both outsiders and its participants; a relationship between one person who is, as psychologists put it, anxiously attached and another who is avoidantly attached. There is, in such couplings, a constant game of push and pull. The anxiously attached party typically complains – more or less loudly – that their partner is not responsive enough: they accuse them of being emotionally distant, withholding, cold and perhaps physically uninterested too.

The avoidant lover, for their part, stays relatively quiet but in their more fed-up moments, complains that the anxious party is far too demanding, possibly ‘mad’ and, as they put it pejoratively, ‘needy’.

One person seems to want far too much, the other far too little.”

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