A “freeze and flee” pattern in your relationship is when you both run away from each other. You probably don’t fight a lot, which may seem great, but the thing is, you don’t really connect at all. This can be the result of a “protest polka” in which the protester has given up and has also turned away, or can be because you both tend to avoid conflict. Chances are, if this is your pattern, there is a great deal of distance in your relationship, and it is now more important to connect with each other than ever.
Many couples wind up in therapy with a “freeze and flee” pattern because they start to get really scared that things are really ending between them. Their relationship is icy cold and they don’t know how to connect with each other. It’s important to be able to be emotionally vulnerable with your partner, but in those couples with “freeze and flee” patterns, there is no such thing as vulnerability. Both parties are protecting themselves and keeping their emotions locked away.
A “freeze and flee” relationship fails to get your needs met. You need to be able to safely turn to someone who you know will respond to you and be there for you. It is crucial that you learn to stop this pattern and start slowly turning toward one another in order to salvage your relationship. The first step is really being able to identify this pattern. Know that you deserve better, and try to talk to your partner about it. Once you start turning toward each other more, gradually, respectfully and slowly, you will be on your way to an improved connection.
This can be easier said than done, so don’t be afraid to seek out help if you need to.
Each relationship has its own unique twist
Most relationships in trouble, however, fall into one of the 3 above patterns.
Do you see your pattern in any of the above types of cycles?
Even though it can be hard to take control of the cycle, I hope that it’s reassuring that your problems may not be about being with the wrong person as you may fear. If one of these destructive patterns has claimed your relationship, it’s your job to team up with your partner against this cycle so that you can connect with each other again.
It’s my hope that this brief introduction to these classic, common patterns can help you both be more aware of your dynamic, so that you can work together to change it for the better.
Cheers to your best relationship,