#2- When he/she says “I don’t know what I’m feeling/thinking” he/she really doesn’t know. Its true. When we feel nervous or anxious, almost all of us go into either a fight mode or a flight mode. When a Withdrawer senses his/her Pursuer getting upset or frustrated in anyway, their bodies will rapidly go into flight mode. In this survival mode, Withdrawers find their minds going completely blank, and their ability to self-reflect and talk about that self-reflection is extremely limited. They are not simply withholding their experience, they really don’t know.
#3- Not being able to open up, talk, and get closer makes Withdrawers feel ashamed. Oftentimes, Withdrawers are actually very sensitive to trying to make their partners happy and would like to be able to talk about their internal experiences. Because they can’t self-reflect in those intense moments, they often feel ashamed and feel like they are letting their partner down. This can be very painful for Withdrawers.
#4- Withdrawers would rather do nothing than make a mistake. We usually learn about the Fight/Flight responses, but we don’t usually learn that Freeze is part of that same survival system. Withdrawers are so sensitive to upsetting their partner, and so sensitive to not disappointing their partners, that they would rather do nothing at all than make a mistake. At times Withdrawers might even feel paralyzed by their insecure feelings. If your partner doesn’t get you gifts, doesn’t like to plan dates, and tends to freeze up during serious relationship conversations, it may be that he/she cares so much about your approval that they are scared to take the risk of buying/planning/saying something you don’t like.
#5- Withdrawers need breaks and/or time-out’s in conversations. We Pursuers want to get to the bottom of a conversation and like to talk until it feels like there is some resolution. Unfortunately, Withdrawers can easily get overwhelmed and over-stimulated in intense conversations. Once a Withdrawer is over-stimulated or they go into that Fight/Flight/Freeze mode, they usually cannot continue the conversation. Taking breaks or time-outs can make a huge difference in how these conversations go.
#6- If pursued for too long or too aggressively, a Withdrawer will eventually snap at you. Pursuers and Withdrawers are simply responding to their survival mechanism. We Pursuers feel compelled to pursue (fight), and Withdrawers are compelled to withdraw (flight/freeze). However, when a Pursuer pursues too far or too aggressively to the point that the withdrawing strategy isn’t working, and the Withdrawer feels attacked, a Withdrawer will snap. This might look like a low-blow insult, saying they give-up on the relationship, or other extreme behaviors. If this is happening regularly in your relationship, or these snaps become violent, you need to seek help.