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Laurie Sanders, Relationship Counselor

A person's "heart withers if it does not answer another heart." Pearl S. Buck

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March 15, 2012

Re-Interpreting People Who Withdraw

Since I've started learning about attachment, and how we get caught in conflicts with those we love, I have started perceiving people differently. I have had to sort of re-program my mind to re-interpret people's behavior. Before, I would have seen my son's turning away from me when I get mad at him (for doing something like leave his dirty dishes all over the counter) as his not caring about me (he must not care, since I'm the one who does most of the cooking, and uses the kitchen the most, and has told him how many times now? to clean up after himeself!). Now that I know that many people withdraw during a conflict, because they hope to protect the relationship from too much anger, I see my son completely differently. Now I see he cares so much that he turns away to protect us from one of us saying something hurtful, or from the pain of big conflicts, a pain which might last much longer than the memory of the dirty dishes. And I am seeing how my anger impacts those I love to respond in ways that leave me feeling disconnected from them. This is all very good. I want close connection but I can unconsciously push loved ones away, and when they turn away I now know they love me, and I can do something to repair the rift.