Show Transcript for Episode 245: The Killjoy Cycle

Announcer 00:00
The following content is not suitable for children.

George Faller 00:01
Let’s talk about killjoy negative cycle that squashes the love life is so many millions of couples out there and how we can get them to name that and notice it and do it differently. Does that sound Laurie?

Laurie Watson 00:18
Sounds good? Welcome to foreplay radio couples in sex therapy. I’m Laurie Watson, your sex therapist.

George Faller 00:28
And I’m George Faller, a couples therapist

Laurie Watson 00:30
and we are passionate about talking about sex and helping you develop a way to talk to each other.

George Faller 00:36
Our mission is to help our audience develop a healthier relationship to sex that integrates the mind, the heart and the body.

Laurie Watson 00:45
Just as we began, please remember to check out Uber live it really calm is where you can get this great lubricant and help support foreplay radio.

George Faller 00:54
All right. typical pattern we’re going to see is therapists, you know, trying to get couples to start seeing a bigger picture, start to see the dynamics that caught it instead of just seeing their own kind of experience. So let’s call Mary and Joe, Mary and Mary and Joe. Good Catholic names. All right. We got Joe, who in this case is this sexual persona. That’s his way of connected. He thinks about it. It’s a healthy way of him feeling safe and connected. Sexual discrepancies are the most common thing we’re going to see over 80% of couples are going to find themselves in a dynamic where one wants more than one wants less. So this is par for the course if you’re signing up for a relationship, this is coming for you. Okay, so chosen a spot of why they get a little bit more. So he’s going to be asking, and here we go. That’s the pressure to marry. What’s Mary gonna say?

Laurie Watson 01:55
Mary’s gonna say all you want is sex.

George Faller 01:59
Well, I No, or some version? I don’t know. I don’t know. She feels the pressure we’re starting to understand and empathize with these pitchers. Right then that take it space just makes them feel safer. I don’t know not today because maybe tomorrow I’d rather have sex when I’m in a mood where it feels beautiful. Like it used to be like, I just want to wait. Right? But then what is that waiting Judah, Joe

Laurie Watson 02:21
tells them that he’s not desirable. He’s not very attractive that he doesn’t. He’s lost his Mojo. All kinds of things, bad things,

George Faller 02:29
right. And then Joe’s frustration and resentment vibe just grows. And even when he’s asking, he’s asking a way to say, Well, what about tonight honey?

Laurie Watson 02:38
tells me not getting any. Can I just say that?

George Faller 02:41
Yeah. Well, it’s it’s hard not to be frustrated. When you want something natural and healthy and your partner doesn’t seem to want it. And you try to say it the right way. wait for the right time. And the results just aren’t there so successfully. True. True. Right. So God Frustration by just grows, which does what Mary’s libido

Laurie Watson 03:05
kills it. Because all she feels is his anger and his pressure and that she’s failing. And she’s not a very good wife. She’s not a very good sexual partner.

George Faller 03:18
Then she finally says, You know what? It’s not worth it. Let’s just have sex even if I’m not in a mood for it. Oh, yeah,

Laurie Watson 03:23
that’s a good one. Okay, can we do it quick? Can we

George Faller 03:27
do it quick? Can we

Laurie Watson 03:28
get it over with

George Faller 03:29
right? Was that does watch a job.

Laurie Watson 03:32
Totally deflating.

George Faller 03:35
It’s still nice day you’ll take it over and often take it over nothing. It gives you a little release. Ah, but again, it’s not an ideal situation. And before you know you’re right back to this frustration resentful place. And then what is Mary feel like?

Laurie Watson 03:51
She feels like, no matter what I do doesn’t make him happy. You know, I gave him sex for crying out loud. And is he happy? No. So she gets set in her her own defensive posture like I can’t, I can’t do it. Right. So why try? I think she starts to feel helpless and gives up on trying.

George Faller 04:12
And that couple is stuck in a feedback loop. Yes, they are where Joe’s frustration feeds Mary’s avoidance and Mary’s avoidance feeds Joe’s frustration.

Laurie Watson 04:25
And I just want to put a tiny word in here for the female sexual pursuers. We know you’re out there, too. We’re going stereotypical today, but somebody just actually Ryan Raina just said to me, you know, you’re always talking about it from the male perspective. Why don’t you ever mention the female sexual pursuers? I’m like, Yeah, that’s right. We need to say that,

George Faller 04:43
right. So again, change the genders change the names, but they are the same they are. So that’s really what I want our listeners to do. If you notice your, your cycle, and it might changed at different points in your relationship. Right? What is common that there is a feedback loop? What can you like this couple Mary and Joe named it killjoy. That’s what it did for both. But there’s something really fun about naming it negative cycle, the merry go round Groundhog Day, whatever word you want to come up with. But the beautiful thing about doing that is it starts to externalize the problem. The problem isn’t Joe. The problem isn’t Mary. The problem is the dynamics that have kind of, they’ve kind of unconsciously just created in this just attempt to be with each other.

Laurie Watson 05:39
And what I like to reassure people is everybody goes through this cycle. I mean, it’s emotionally or sexually, most people, it’s both. We all go through the negative cycle. It’s part of growing up in a relationship. You know, how do we find NCR partners needs and concerns that stop The cycle. In the beginning, all we see is what they’re doing to us that it’s their problem that they’ve got to change. I can always see a path for people like how it could be different. The difficulty, I believe, is convincing each of them that it’s not just their partner that needs to change. It’s like they need to see it differently.

George Faller 06:21
That’s the whole key to a cycle. Both people have to take responsibility for their moves, and their moves aren’t wrong or bad. They make absolute sense. But you got to start to see that bigger picture. It’s like when you’re playing tennis and somebody hits the ball so fast, you just see the ball and you respond, right. But if you zoomed up to like a stadium view, you can see that every time the guy or the lady hits the ball, it goes in that corner, it’s really predictable, like that’s where you’re going to backhand it back to them and this process that moves so fast starts to slow down. Hmm. So the beauty of a cycle is it most of the time, you can Stop it or catch it as it’s happening. But afterwards, the next day an hour later, you can just say, Hey, we did it again. That’s what starts this repair process. Right, Joe and Mary can come back to each other and say, hey, did we did killjoy again, didn’t we? You were frustrated. I didn’t want to deal with it. Right. And we did our thing. And we know where that leads. That’s the thing with a negative cycle, both people lose, there is no winner here.

Laurie Watson 07:24
There is no winner. Both people get blocked and they get into disconnect, and they’re separate from each other. And that sad place. Exactly. There’s one

George Faller 07:35
sexy place. And it’s what makes change so difficult, because all one person has to do is their move. And the other one, even if they tried to do it differently, are going to get pulled right back into dynamics. So imagine Joe said, You’re right, I can’t be so frustrated. I gotta try differently. And Joe starts to joke around and starts to be playful and you know, and marriage is still doesn’t engage Joe is going to get pulled right back into the frustration. Or say Mary says, All right, you know what I got to try, I got to initiate, I got to do more. Mary kind of shows up saying hey, and she tries to initiate and Joe doesn’t know how to trust and he’s, he’s like, really? Why now?

Laurie Watson 08:15
I live finally. I love that one, especially when I finally get the sexual withdraw or to start to initiate and their partner’s like, you’re just doing it because the therapist suggested it. I’m like, Are you kidding? All that work down the drain? You know, it’s just another way that they block it. I’m like, No, no, no, you know, No, she doesn’t really want to do it or he doesn’t really want to do it. So

George Faller 08:37
every pursuer listening needs to kind of just take that moment. Put yourself aside and be your which one partner that wants to say, I don’t know that was the goal way. What is it like to actually initiate how risky is that? And what is it like what you do? And your partner can’t respond to it? What is that dude? You

09:00
terrible,

Laurie Watson 09:02
terrible. So you’re asking the then the pursuer who had just had their partner initiate to remember that to remember that Remember,

George Faller 09:12
it feels good felt sad said I didn’t how not try actually is a better option than not feeling it’s so hard for a pursuer to get like to withdraw, doesn’t want to try doesn’t want to engage but that’s a great feeling to carry with you to say, if you run the risk of that happening, no wonder why they’d write a play it safe and take space because that is so tried and true for them.

Laurie Watson 09:37
Here you’re saying what I’ve always felt for people is that sexual frequency, it just can’t be negotiated. Right? It can’t be you want it five times a week and I want it once so let’s do it two or three times a week. And you know, it’s, it’s not gonna work. It’s like we have to walk into each other’s hearts and feel something from them about what It’s like, what it’s like to have it, what it’s like to not have it, what it’s like to initiate what it’s like to risk all of that, that there’s a deeper place that we get to an understanding with each other. That really creates a bond. And then what I see in couples is it’s kind of magical. It doesn’t. They’re not negotiating anymore. They’re responding to each other about feelings. It’s like if their partner says, you know, you want to do it tonight, and they don’t, but they care so much about Mary cares so much about Joe. She’s like, Honey, I’m exhausted but I could hold you or you know, you could do you and I could hold you or something. I know you want to be connected to me. It’s like they see the longing and they respond to that.

George Faller 10:44
Exactly. It’s great. And I don’t want to leave these pursue is feeling left out. To withdraws need to do the same thing if you’re a witch or or listen and I want you to put yourself aside and just get curious how many times does that pursuer wanna engage and initiate but does it tries not to put pressure just to feel what that does for the persona?

Laurie Watson 11:07
This is my very favorite thing you say, whenever I’ve listened to you any class anything that is so true for the pursuer, it’s like you don’t know how good I been. I haven’t pressured you I haven’t asked and all this time and now the one time I asked and you say I asked all the time, like you have no idea what I’m really thinking that

George Faller 11:29
what is it do when you’re holding that space and you want to engage and you’re trying to hold it back. And then your partner just walks away and says you’re not now not interested. Don’t want to engage, just to feel that protest inside of you that it feels so unfair, that you’ve tried so hard to say it right away for the right time. And yet it’s so easily kind of put aside by your partner. And you know, in your body just wants to kind of protest that

Laurie Watson 11:59
or worse. You Come up to them and touch them and they kind of stiffen so painful.

George Faller 12:05
So when we come back from break we’re gonna get into some concrete moves that both of them can do. Okay, unite against the killjoy

12:14
unite against killjoy.

12:16
Yes.

Laurie Watson 12:19
We are grateful to Uber lube for still sponsoring us. This is a fantastic lube. If you haven’t tried it yet please check it out at Uber lube calm with the coupon for play, which gives you 10% off I keep forgetting to tell people that they can support us and they can try this great lubrication which is really it’s made out of a high grade silicone and you know, I do all kinds of ratings on lubrications just in my work and silicone doesn’t get absorbed into the body so it it really provides smooth touch, smooth intercourse a great glide. It’s scent free, it is taste free so you can switch from four point To oral sex to intercourse with no problem.

George Faller 13:03
Well, if you’re using Uber lube to enhance or relax your body, then it’s just that much easier to open up your mind and expand your heart

Laurie Watson 13:10
and having something fun that makes sex even better. I would love for you to try Uber lube, support the foreplay podcast and save 10% off your order when you use the coupon code for play at Uber lube calm, done to Facebook Lives for our patrons, George and we try to do that once a quarter we try to send newsletters and give exclusive material. But it’s really we are grateful for people who believe in our mission to help couples keep it hot and help inform people and help them talk about sex. Help them get better at their sexual relationship.

George Faller 13:48
Right in partnering with us is it’s really an honor to know people that are joining us on this mission that this is a an effort to produce and for the listeners And it is to put aside time and we hope that’s valuable. But when when we join forces, it’s just a lot easier to get that message out there. So we so appreciate the support both financial and just to make those ratings and to spread the word, because our world really needs it.

Laurie Watson 14:18
And we get so many letters from people, not just patrons that are grateful for what we’re doing and say it’s changing their lives. And so if you want to help us change the world, we would appreciate that support. And certainly, this is something that our hearts are in and we’ve given a lot to and you can join with us. George, I love what you’re saying. The mercy that you have for the pursuers that is good about especially the how many times we think about it, think about sex or think about the desire for emotional connection and don’t bring it up. And then when we’re turned down or if we’re withdraw or We feel so much pressure and we’re so afraid that the cycle is going to start that we stiffen up and shut down and and this cycle the killjoy cycle between couples how each of them has a part. But we want to give people other moves that they can make so that they can reach connection and they can unite against the cycle the bad cycle.

George Faller 15:22
Yeah, I love Sue Johnson’s line where she says the negative cycle is rigidly maintained by each partners ways of managing disconnection while searching for closeness, right, both the pursuer, both the pursuer and withdraw, are trying to manage protect themselves from the disconnection from the hurt from the mistrust, right? So the withdraw needs to take space to pursue is trying to kind of push the envelope. Those are just survival moves that they’ve learned before they were with each other. Mm hmm. And yet in these moves, they’re also trying To search for closeness to trying to figure out how to do it differently. So we’re really trying to get them to see this bigger picture. Because that’s all survival does. It gives both partners tunnel vision. Right when you’re in tunnel vision, just know what the other person’s doing is not working and it’s hurting you. It’s really hard to see your pot, take ownership for your move and what it’s doing to create the very thing in your partner that you don’t like. Right so the worst thing for withdraw is criticism. Well, guess what? That’s the go to move of pursuer.

Laurie Watson 16:33
That’s that’s their go to criticism and anger,

George Faller 16:36
right? The worst thing for pursuer is withdrawal distance. Science wars are excellent. They’re masters at that move. You start taking ownership for your move, though it makes absolute sense is really really terrible. It could be traumatic for your partner. And usually when I tell couples this the first time they look at you with like deer in the headlights say, oh, that that are we wrong for each other? Like, are we just do this? It’s just like, there’s no hope no, you can learn to replace that negative cycle with a positive cycle.

Laurie Watson 17:11
That’s so true. I talked to a individual therapist this week with one of my couples, I am in contact with the individual therapist and I’m in contact with the withdraw hours. Individual therapist, and he was like, do you not know how scathing she is to him? Are you not addressing that in therapy? And, you know, I think from either perspective, it looks so bad, but I think oftentimes, especially in therapy, the pursuer is exasperated, and they’re angry. They’re criticizing, you know, it in the beginning looks obvious what they’re doing to create the problem and I think the withdrawing side, it doesn’t look obvious the silence the quiet the logical response, the calm, which can be infuriating to their patients. Or just look so especially to a therapist maybe not trained in the cycle, you know, can look like, you know, this person, the reasonable person, they don’t see how the silence is maddening how the withdraw is hurting and wounding

George Faller 18:16
is accuracy that it’s just, it’s a limited view, guy, there is truth that a person’s experience that you know, the other partner is too critical, or the other partner is not engaging. If you just listen to that side of the story, you’re going to get pulled it to them believe that is the whole story. But I think we’re we’re trying to offer something bigger than that. So, to me there are two parts of really uniting against the cycle what is understanding a good reason for your moves, so the pursuer has to understand that criticism. The Witcher art needs to understand their affordance and again, for all our listeners, it’s not so simple. We all do some of both, but we’re just trying to kind of get us make this simpler. The next step, which is really how you know, a couple of us united against the cycle, is can they really see their partner’s behaviors differently? So if I’ll know what you are, and you’re the pursuer, let’s roleplay that my job is to get you is to start saying something. Laurie, I used to think you’re kind of pursued to talk about sex to want to have sex was telling me I was doing it wrong all the time. And that’s how I would then want to take space. But now starting to understand that you’re, you’re pursuing is, is your hope that things are going to change. It’s your fight for the relationship. It’s your, it’s your logging to have more in a relationship. So I’m really starting to kind of understand your move a little bit better.

Laurie Watson 19:50
That’s good. That feels good. You know, I used to think that when you would say no and shut down that I guess myself I wasn’t good enough for you wasn’t attractive enough that, you know, if I had been like Betsy Sue in your, you know, old days high school days, you’d have wanted it because she told me you guys did it all the time. And so I would just, I would start to feel bad. And I know that there’s a lot of reasons that you don’t want to now I know you’re really stressed out. And as sometimes you worry about your erections and it’s like, that kills you. If I’m spontaneous and you worry about that, I know there’s a lot of reasons I know sometimes you worry about how it goes for me and and then I’m just gonna get mad, you know, so I, I get why you withdraw and you know why you don’t necessarily talk about it because you don’t want to have a big fight with me.

George Faller 20:49
No one feels good. It’s not that I don’t care. Right. It’s that I just don’t want to get it wrong and going away. guarantees I don’t get her off.

Laurie Watson 21:01
And it’s not that I, I want to tell you you’re not doing enough. Actually, I want more of you. I mean, it’s it’s not like you’re failing me it’s I just feel so hungry to be with you. Right?

George Faller 21:17
Or you could see how easy we fall into this loop.

Laurie Watson 21:20
Yes. Did you see how the pursuer just like wanted to start criticizing? So easy,

George Faller 21:28
right? And that’s the thing, you’re never gonna make this cycle disappear. It always comes back. The whole idea is when it comes back and you notice it and have a conversation. They get you back on track. That’s why naming it rarely listen to please name your cycle. Don’t just sit back and say all right, if this makes sense, we have something like it. No, you need to actually name it. Take a minute or two just to find a special word something that reminds you you know

Laurie Watson 22:00
This is a great, great thing. I like this idea.

George Faller 22:03
Oh, me and my wife would have the same fight every year in California. So we would just call it California. And as we were traveling there, we knew it was coming for us. But there was something we did to California. Let’s talk about it now. Right? It made a big difference. It knows future trips. Right. So what is what might be a name of a cycle with you, your husband? Gosh,

Laurie Watson 22:25
I gotta think about that. George, I have not. I have not named our cycle.

22:29
drowning, drowning,

George Faller 22:32
your husband’s swim. I just tried a couple weeks. Well, sure. But the whole idea is when you make it personable, when it’s an image when it’s something vivid and real clear color, like you hold on to that it’s so much easier for your brain to access that, you know, when times a tiny bit

Laurie Watson 22:53
of humor in it, right and it’s outside of us. It’s our third part. I think That’s what’s powerful too, is to think this is something that grabs us. It’s not It’s not my heart, you know, I want to be connected with my partner. It’s not their heart, they want to be connected to me they want to please me all that. But this thing is kind of monstrous thing comes in the way and gets in the way of us and grabs the sexes down the drain drowns us try that. I’ll try it.

George Faller 23:24
And what’s so beautiful about the simplicity of the cycle is if you see what’s wrong, right, which was here the message they’re failing and pressure, their pursuers feeling rejection and a sense that you know, they’re not wanted and they protect themselves with that anger. It tells us what both people need. Right? So if I’m a pursuer, I know my withdraws feeling a sense of failure, and that’s why they go away. How do I give them a sense of success? in these conversations in these encounters? How do I empower them if they feel pressure? How do I help them be more Curious and open. The flip side out if I’m withdraw, I understand how do I help my partner feel chosen and wanted and desired. Right? How important is my initiation for doing that? If space is the trigger, how do I show them a different move from that space? Now we’re starting to talk about those positive cycles, getting that withdraw to initiate more, getting that pursuer to come across at a more curious open way.

Laurie Watson 24:28
Right, withdraw or has to come forward in nurture,

George Faller 24:33
care, step into the space and and the pursuer asked to stay calm and believe, you know, have a little faith right that their partner does want to be close or any irony is how do you learn that is through the mistakes and I miss it too much. It’s like they try they build a little bit of positive momentum. And here comes the negative cycle again. That’s not a sign that They couple can’t do it. These setbacks are opportunities to say hey, we did it again. We so we got the practice drive against the practice cow sounds like fun. Sounds like fun every year. But each time the hope is you get better and better. It’s a it is so hot. I’m over Troy is so hard for me if I’m not intentional to resist the urge to just say, I don’t know, move away. But I am starting to get that every time I do that, although it feels safe in a moment. I know in the long term, it just creates more distance for us, and it really sends you to a bad place. And I’m sorry, I did it again. Huh, what do you think that would be like to hear? I feel

Laurie Watson 25:39
really good. Oh, please return a favor. I’m sorry. I’m sorry that I push you but I make you not feel safe. And I know you know that. I do that and I get really critical. And I get all ramped up and all that energy just you know pushes you back I’m sorry to do that to you because I want to be somebody that you feel safe with you, you can come to.

George Faller 26:09
It’s nice. You know, when you can give your partner permission. I don’t like your move, but it makes sense. If you’re not feeling so safe, I get why you get angry. I get why you go away when a partner can say that. That’s what the repair process looks like. We did it again. We fell into the California, we started driving again. We did killjoy, again, whatever the name is, it’s just a bid to come back together and repair. And again, as the only difference between the best couples and couples that don’t make it is that ability to notice distance and available repair it.

Laurie Watson 26:45
We all get into the cycle. We all do the thing that is going to push our partner away. It’s getting back together. That’s important.

George Faller 26:54
If it wasn’t for the negative cycle, there’d be no makeup sex. So we need it.

Laurie Watson 27:01
Thanks for listening to foreplay radio.

George Faller 27:03
Keep it hot everyone. Makeup sucks. Yeah.

Laurie Watson 27:08
And PS please tune in to our Patreon page so that you can catch the next exclusive episode and our next Facebook Live.

George Faller 27:17
We appreciate you joining us to spread this really important message.

Announcer 27:20
calling your questions to the four play question voicemail, dial 833 my four play that’s a three three, the number four play, and we’ll use the questions for our mailbag episodes. All content is for entertainment purposes only and should not be considered as a substitute for therapy by a licensed clinician or as medical advice from a doctor.

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