Which type best describes you in a relationship?
In which column is your number higher? If your number is higher on the LEFT column, you’re an AVOIDER . Like a turtle, you pull inside yourself when you’re upset. If your number is higher on the RIGHT column, you’re a PURSUER. Like a hailstorm, you let it all out when you’re upset.
Often avoiders (or minimizers) are married to pursuers (or maximizers). This exacerbates the initial issue because now you’re dealing with not just the content of the argument but the process of how you each handle yourselves.
Read more about what you can do:
For either type of response, each person FIRST needs to self-soothe. Why? Because there is likely strong emotion underneath either style. (Yes, even for the avoider who appears disinterested or unaffected.) Self-soothing can include a) deep belly breathing while visualizing something calming, b) taking a walk with a podcast on (so you're not thinking about the argument and can cool down), or c) connecting to your spiritual beliefs.
SECOND FOR THE PURSUER: Learn to ask if now is a good time for your partner to talk. If you're about to deliver an important or emotional message, check first that the other person is able to listen at this time. If the other person is tired, hungry, or pre-occupied with another issue, they're not in a good headspace to truely listen. Say "I'd like to talk about X. Is not a good time?" and allow them to say no and give you an alternate time.
SECOND FOR THE AVOIDER: Practice having important and emotional conversations AND soothing youself if strong emotion arises. Those deep belly breaths or connecting to your higher power that I mentioned earlier can be a highly effective way to settle your own self during a discussion. Your growth is to learn to tolerate strong emotions and stay in the conversation.
As we often say: Long-term relationships call on us to grow a part of ourselves that we need to develop.
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Couples Therapy Center of NJ teaches clients tools to handle your reactions. It’s not that either way is bad or wrong unless that’s your only way of handling EVERY ISSUE. We give our clients an alternative to either of these reactions – a middle way that’s more effective and productive ESPECIALLY when tensions rise. As mature adults, we need a full range of tools at our disposal so we can apply the best one for that particular situation.