Does your partner feel just outside of your grasp? Are you longing for a deeper physical and emotional connection? Pursuers and withdrawers have different needs and fears that need to be heard and understood… What do you long for?
Fulfilling each other’s needs and desires can bring you closer together, but you have to communicate and create the space for this to happen. Pursuers fear rejection and often feel like they’re being “too much.” They need to feel wanted and fought for. Withdrawers fear failure of “letting their partner down” which is why they are hesitant to engage. They need to feel acceptance and reassurance from their partner.
You have to meet each other halfway… Pursuers—create safety by expressing your longing for both sexual and emotional connection to your partner. Be attentive to their needs and give affirmation of their feelings. Withdrawers—you hold a lot of power and being willing to initiate can go a long way. Meet your partner with excitement and reciprocate a desire for deeper intimacy.
When the pursuers longings are finally met, it can be very healing for both partners. Enjoy the afterglow moment together!
The following content is not suitable for children.
George Faller 00:02
Laurie today we’re gonna talk about the power of longings, desires, dreams, aspirations, all this talk on fears and pain and darkness. Let’s talk about some good stuff. What do you think? Welcome to Foreplay radio, couples & sex therapy. I’m Laurie Watson, your sex therapist. And I’m George Faller, a couples therapist. And we are passionate about talking about sex and helping you develop a way to talk to each other. Our mission is to help our audience develop a healthier relationship to sex that integrates the mind, the heart, and the body. Longing, I want to accentuate just the the positive emotions that come with longings being met, desires being fulfilled, what are our wants and needs? Right, we can get so focused on the frustrations of not getting those needs met or feeling like we’re failing or disappointed. Like, what’s the opposite side of that coin? When actually who you are, is met and celebrated.
Laurie Watson 01:14
Right? So again, I want to I want to longing is is that fulfilled? Yeah. Okay, I love that.
George Faller 01:20
I think the more that we can get clear on what it looks like working, when the natural process is unfolding in its beautifully eloquent way. Like, our body communicates pretty clearly to us. And the more that we could hold on to the memory of these positive emotions, though, the easier it is to get back to that place. Mm hmm. So maybe we talk about the pursuer and the withdraw. We talk about? Certainly we talk a lot about their fears. Well, what about when those needs are met? underneath the fears? what some of the emotions? What does it look like? How do we get clear on actually what they’re looking for?
Laurie Watson 01:58
So the longing of say the sexual pursuer is for their partner to, I think, meet them in excitement. And maybe for the sexual withdrawal or to be good enough. You know, like that, like, what happens when they get the message is that when you proposition your partner, and their eyes light up, that to me, is everything.
George Faller 02:29
Nice? Well, let’s take each one and get more specific. Right? Well, you want to start with the personas?
Laurie Watson 02:35
Yeah, Yeah, I do. I do. I always do.
George Faller 02:39
What a shock. Let’s start with the pursue is good for the withdrawers. They take a little time to warm up to this topic and pursue is erasing right into it. So the beauty of emotions is they’re so wise and communicating information, right, embedded in our fears is also our needs. So what’s the fear of a persona to be not wanting to be rejected, to feel loved and to be abandoned to feel like it’s their fault? Because they’re too much, they’re unlovable? They’re broken, right? Oh, wait, I like that one. But I’m too much. Yeah, so let’s use too much, on too much. And because of that, that’s why people don’t want to be around me, we really listen to that, if we lean into what that emotion is saying, the longing is the opposite, what is the opposite of being too much, that I’m just enough that it’s welcomed, that they want that they want me to come toward them. So those those needs are going to be all around that, to be wanted to be accepted, to be seen, to be interested in, to be fought for, to be chosen to be believed in? Right? These are powerful to be fought for to find me to want me to knock down walls to do whatever it takes. Right? That’s the antidote to rejection and feeling not wanting? Absolutely. So let’s lead into those places. Like what happens when you are chosen when you’re fought, and for when you’re perfect for the other person? Like, what’s the emotion of that?
Laurie Watson 04:19
It just kind of feels like melty peace.
George Faller 04:25
Laurie Watson 04:27
I I’m thinking recently, I was anxious about something. And my husband knew I was anxious. And, you know, there’s been lots of times in our relationship where he’ll say, you know, I’m tired of your anxiety or your anxiety is limiting or, you know, communicate that either explicitly or implicitly. You know, in this time, he like, came and got me he knew I was suffering and he came over and he put his arms around me and he does something sometimes where you like won’t let me go even when I’m done. Like the hug, you know, he just like won’t let me go. And it was so deeply reassuring. It was that sense of him being aware of who I was, even though we weren’t really in the same room coming to get me seeking me out, holding me, you know, trying to squeeze the anxiety out of me kind of definitely being fought for moment.
George Faller 05:25
Nice and look at the positive signals your body sent. I love that melty piece. Right. There’s a relaxation. There’s there’s a letting go. There’s a breathing, there’s a lightness, there’s a calmness. There’s a settling, there’s a grounding, there’s a contentment, there’s a happiness, this such clear signals of needs being met. Right? This is what we’re trying to help our listeners put words to when we find this. Couples often can find this in the afterglow, these positive feelings, right? It’s just signals of needs being met. You mean? Yes. Yes.
Laurie Watson 06:04
Yeah. We’re both of their needs are met. And they’re in that melty place.
George Faller 06:10
Yeah. And the more we can invite pursue, as they get clear on this is what they’re looking for. They’re looking to be fought for, to be chosen to really be get signs that they’re wanted, because that’s the opposite. That’s the antidote to healing to those rejection triggers. The peace is still here with Laurie pieces of bodies. It’s still, even if power that memory of Derek’s kind of hug and I’ll let you go, we carry that’s the beauty of attachment. We carry these memories with us forever. Our body keeps score and it always knows. That’s so true.
Laurie Watson 06:49
I think that afterglow moment for the sexual pursuer, right when they have connected and their partner has been with them. And there is this deep sexual connection. And their partner, it’s it’s past the initiation debate, and their partner is relaxed and and has enjoyed it. And they’ve enjoyed it. And there’s like who this great moment of that was so worth it. I mean, that’s another melty moment. Yeah, that feels so good. So that longing mat, that sexual longing is matte, and they feel really at one at peace.
George Faller 07:37
It’s also really empowering for the majority to hear this. That’s why the their initiation is so important. Not just for the afterglow, but before right, the initiate sex is trying to hit this goal for the pursuer like this is the safest, they’re probably gonna feel right when their partner chooses them and tells them they’re perfect and just enough like it allows their body to go to this ultimate place. And then withdrawal gets to be the one that takes them there. That’s the power withdraws often feel like they’re not going to get it right. They don’t recognize the power that they hold. They actually have a key that can open up the store, their ability to fight for their partner to choose them and to kind of initiate this is so healing for the pursuer. Hmm,
Laurie Watson 08:20
absolutely. So. So the longing mat is when the withdrawer or initiate sexually with them. says I want to be with you. I want you
George Faller 08:31
to now I want you now. That’s the total opposite of maybe tomorrow.
Laurie Watson 08:38
I got a headache.
George Faller 08:40
Well, let’s come back and talk about what what are the longest are these drawers?
Laurie Watson 08:44
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George Faller 10:02
Yeah, well, I again, it’s best to start with the fear because the fear is going to inform us of the longing. Okay? Right, the fear or the withdrawal, or is often the sense that they’re going to fail, they’re going to come up short, they’re going to disappoint, they’re going to let down. That’s the fear that drives the going away. So if we allow ourselves to just sit in that place, when we have failed when we’ve let people down, what does a heart need? That’s why we also want to encourage people to give us physical markers, like get curious in your body. Where do you feel rejected? Yeah, where do you feel like you’re failing? Do you feel that in your stomach? Do you feel that in your, you know, chest it hard to breathe? Do you feel it in your head, like, the more that we can name the fear, we can also listen to what happens, the longer it’s going to come from that place where they what comfort Do we need, and then the shift towards positive reproof, that something has changed. So if I if I’m a withdraw, and I feel like a failure, you know, the opposite of of, of failing is getting a message from my partner that I’m accepted, that I’m appreciated, that I’m seeing, right that I’m wanting it that my partner believes in me that even if I do fail, it’s okay. I mean, there’s so much more than me than just this moment of not getting it right. So being accepted and loved and wanted even in the failure is often the confident that reassurance reassurance is a big one, for what’s yours.
Laurie Watson 11:37
So, what Give me an example? Like how, how would you reassure the partner who is emotionally avoidant? How do you say that to them? Let me see if I can try, let me see if I can. Okay, so. So I know, this has been a tough season, you’ve been, you know, the kids have been just going crazy. There’s been so many activities, and you’ve been so busy. And I know that, you know, we haven’t had that much time together, I just want you to know, I, I see all that you’re doing for our family. And you do a lot, you work hard. And I’m so grateful that you are my co parent and the way you take care of the kids and you know our lives. And it’s just, I really see your effort. And even though we haven’t had that time together, I know you’re working just as hard as I am. I know that we’re pulling in the same direction. I want you to know that I you know, I see it every day and what you’re doing love that about you and appreciate that about you.
George Faller 12:55
But I’m not really getting to the longing. I don’t know the longing. Is it it? Let’s just sit let’s just try to get clear. I mean, I love what you’re doing. You’re highlighting you’re appreciating what I’m trying to do my wife. Yeah, right. And but what happens inevitably when we do fail, and we do let our partner down? Right? So again, if you think about your kids, like as a parent, how would you respond when they do fail? Right? They don’t get the grade they’re supposed to get? They don’t, you know, they they make a mistake, they make a bad choice. Like what do you think they need in those places? Yeah, I think they need to be seen as good and that there’s, they’re good because they belong to me. We’re together, we’re connected. We’re in relationship. I, I see their stellar parts.
Laurie Watson 13:46
George Faller 13:49
Yeah, I think that’s so important that when we’ve failed, we, most of us start to believe we don’t deserve love in these places. That’s why we want to hide them. Because we don’t want people to see these places inside of us and kind of confirm my fear. So it seems like the only option is to is to self soothe it. Right But but the long it is to be loved even when you fail. That there’s more of you than than just the performance, that that your partner is still going to choose you and still want you even though you’ve come up short. That’s the real reassurance for the withdrawer, that says, You know, I love you Even when you fail. And these could be I mean, these can be really risky things to ask for. Because when you believe you do deserve punishment, and isolation, it’s hard to believe somebody would want to love you they get being loved when they get it right. They don’t know how to get received love when actually failing and getting it wrong. So that’s the longing. The longing is would you still choose me even though I fail Do you still want me? Would you still believe me? Would you still fight for me?
Laurie Watson 15:04
I think you’re talking, though, specifically about when our withdrawing partner has failed us not just failed in general, but fail to meet our needs is isn’t that what you’re saying? In our child is different? Because in our child has, we don’t depend on them?
George Faller 15:26
It’s just a good starting point for what’s the longing for a child? What are they needing when they fail? Sometimes it’s easier for us to see that because yes, it’s more complicated when your failure hurts your partner, it’s harder for the partner to see it. But to gain some distance, like if my kid fails, my instinct is to kind of go up and say, it’s okay. You know, we’ll do it again, we’ll figure out what we need to do. But I still think you’re also if it doesn’t change us, we’re still good, we’re still safe. Like that. That message that that physical embraces given is like you need my love the most. So I’m coming closer to you, I don’t want you to face this alone. I want your nervous system to experience some success, some connection in this place, and not face it alone. And yet, what’s happening for so many withdrawers is because they don’t have words for the longings for what they want. They choose just to hide it. And to not make it worse, they’re looking to not make things worse, they’re not looking to make things better, and they’re avoidance get hidden, they don’t even have words for that long. And so you’re not alone. And when you’re like, I don’t even know what or what your elite needs, they don’t even know what they need. They don’t ever put words to it, because they’re always going to hide it. But if there wasn’t any time, there’s a fear, there’s always a logging, I hear that I want to be accepted, as I am. loved for who I am. Yeah, without the performance, without even with performing in a way that makes you happy. It’s like I have reasons and blocks inside me that haven’t been able to do that. And I still, I still want you to hang on to me. Yeah, that it’s okay. Like it, the failure isn’t all of me. You can see my effort, you can see my goodness, you can see my value, you can see my humanity, you can see my love. Like that stuff doesn’t get lost in these moments. Because for withdrawals, it gets lost, it’s hard for them to see their own value when they fail. We get so occluded by their terrible sense of self judgement.
Laurie Watson 17:33
Kind of that uber critical voice that beats them up, they, they need somebody to kind of reach down in that hole and say, Hey, I, you’re good. You’re your mind you, you’re still important to me. You know, I definitely see that in patients sometimes when they have this scathing part of them that comes up and obliterates any goodness that they feel about themselves. Yeah, it’s great. Laurie, if you think about those moments, when you receive the message that we are good. Even if you fail, we are okay. It’s not changing how much I want you when they experience being loved. When they don’t believe they deserve love. The body can’t help but shift towards a positive effect.
George Faller 18:27
And I guess that’s that’s our target.
Laurie Watson 18:31
So as a pursuing partner, we have to see that the withdrawing partner goes through a lot of self evaluation that oftentimes is negative and can’t reach for it can’t reach for the reassurance. So it’s just knowing that it becomes our role in love to kind of hold onto that and remember that and offer it, offer it up.
George Faller 18:58
Yes. Well, let’s come back. And now we’re starting to name those positive emotions that are a sign of success for the withdrawal in these places.
Laurie Watson 19:09
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Laurie Watson 21:12
George I’m really learning a lot. This is been a good episode for me hearing it in a new way. Really great. Well, I’m just the longing, the lack of the withdrawal or being able to articulate their longing about what might be going on inside. Yes. And when they need it the most from the pursuer when they need that reach and hand you know, to pull them out to offer them love to say it. Just kind of I think as a pursuer, you you have to assume that they’re withdraw doesn’t mean that nothing is going on in there that they don’t have longings that the longing is about belonging and reassurance and goodness,
George Faller 22:01
it’s one of the saddest things when I work with with drawers is when I asked them what they want. They almost universally say less fighting. Right? What they want is less negative. They can’t even put words to the positive words they’re looking for, because that’s not really an option for them. Yeah,
Laurie Watson 22:17
or I don’t know,
George Faller 22:18
I don’t know what I want, right? And any of us, we all know what it’s like to fail. We all know if we sit in that place, our body will send us signals on what could help. And when we could ask for that the world becomes a safer place. So when you get these withdrawals to say, you know, I feel like I’m failing. And in these places, I always hide this because I can’t imagine somebody would want to see this part of me. Right you and what would help me in this place is just to know that it’s going to be okay, if I fail, it’s going to be okay. It’s not going to change how you feel about me. Right? And when you get that pursuer to say yes. I mean, I didn’t know of course, I love you. I think you’re amazing. I choose you even when you fail, I mean that love fest that usually comes for that withdraw is so healing. And how do we know we go back to the body, that place of like nauseousness in our stomach where they feel like they’re failing and their partner is embracing them. You see that transformation, that shift towards positive effect. They feel lighter, they feel calmer, they’re still lines.
Laurie Watson 23:22
Yeah. And doesn’t feel tense and tight anymore.
George Faller 23:26
I loved your word, the, the melty piece, right? It’s what it’s like, like, we’re a baby again, we’re being loved, we’re safe, we’re chosen. And it’s like, the oxytocin gets released that our nervous system just finds the signals of connection, right? We’re part of something again, just think how transformative that is. They’re always alone with us and now their body experiences not being alone with failure of actually experiencing acceptance and love in these places. How can we now feel happier and more open and more curious, we talked about polyvagal theory, our brain goes into this more ventral complex, the green light opens up this is the good stuff of relationships.
Laurie Watson 24:09
I think, you know, especially when I see the need of the sexual withdraw or it almost becomes fearful as a sexual pursuer to offer that like if I offer you that, then you’re gonna think it’s all okay. But what you just said, I think is so important for me to hear for our listeners to hear is that something changes in the brain where there’s more space, there’s more freedom, and potentially more ability to come toward because they they sexual with doors talk about so often the need for that safety, for their brain is not on alert. It’s very hard to be aroused when your brain is on any kind of alert yellow to red, forget about it. And so what you’re saying is when you offer let’s say in this case, the sexual withdraw Like, I know you’re working hard on this in the urine therapy for chronic odd. We’re talking about sex every week. And I know this has been a place of conflict for us. And I appreciate so much that you keep coming. And I know you’ve been saying you’re working on your eroticism. And I appreciate that so much. And you know what? Yeah, it hasn’t worked between us, but it’s okay, we’re gonna work it out. We’re gonna figure this out together. I know, I have a part two. And I want, I want you to know, I see how hard you’re working at this, that makes their brain go green.
George Faller 25:34
Yeah, I love your word freedom. That’s really that the antidote to the pressure of a withdrawal is that freedom, I don’t have to guess their bodies should communicate, right? If they’re being loved when they’re failing. There’s less pressure to have to get it right. So that feeling of freedom, that that signal of curiosity, playfulness, these are just positive emotions, that give us that evidence of the shift. So it’s a lot easier for withdrawal. And this is also so empowering for the pursuer because they get to be the person that heals the witch or they get the person the most powerful person that could. That’s the closest we get to unconditional love. Right, that says, even when you fail, I choose you. Right, that feels pretty amazing for the person. And given that that power is so strong, they get to be the one person on this planet that sees this place that normally no one sees a naked, bring in healing, that causes a positive shift. So usually, their positive emotions are pretty amazed to
Laurie Watson 26:39
Yeah, it’s a cycle. There’s a push in a pole. And so when you go toward the withdraw with grace, and love, and affirmation have seen their struggle in let’s say, the sexual relationship. seen the difficulty? Yeah, be stinking hard to initiate sex when you don’t feel any desire in your body? No, I get that. Giving that grace opens up something where it’s like they more naturally want to come towards you. And I mean, we don’t want to do that. And with that expectation, it’s like, we can always tell if a gift comes without strings, right. And that’s what you’re talking about. giving our partner the affirmation that they need the love that they need, just because we love them just because they belong to us just because we have seen their pain and we’ve set aside the way it hurts us. And we’ve said, Okay, this is this is what hurts you and I am going to love you in it. And that kind of gift opens up a relationship that is more reciprocal,
George Faller 27:51
and there’s so much value in giving a gift in that gratitude. I love how you’re describing that in that moment when the pursuer is able to keep their focus on the withdraw and recognize oh my goodness, I didn’t know these logins were there. Right And now that I see them, I get a chance to meet those longings, I get to give my partner a dose of safety they’ve probably never had before. Right and when they do your relationship changes, that’s a positive cycle. Right that both people feel they get caught up in the in the those powerful positive emotions of just joy and calmness and appreciation and safety. I mean, that’s, that’s why we’re in this right. This is love. This is loving action right here, baby.
Laurie Watson 28:39
Yeah, loving action. That is beautiful. Even as we’re talking about it, I almost feel like close to tears. Just that sense of this is my hope, what people could do for each other. To me, it’s a relationship changer. And it’s a world changer.
George Faller 28:58
That’s right. I love I love your emotion now, right? That’s just hope. hopes. Another one we should say we’re hoping to rekindle that like as people are listening in, like tap into that you deserve that in your partner deserves that. to want to feel safe and chose it and desired. And like, even if we get it wrong, we’re still wanted. I mean, this is it. This is this is love at its best.
Laurie Watson 29:22
This is what it can be. And this is Yeah. And it would feel so good. And it does feel so good when it happens.
George Faller 29:30
And to remember these good moments, even when you’re feeling down to remember Wait a second. We know what this is like we’ve we’ve met at this place. That Island is still within us. Yeah, this might be a raging storm that’s happening right now. But somewhere deep down, there’s this calm a place that knows better. That wants this beautiful thing.
Laurie Watson 29:50
I love what we’re talking about and George, I’ve learned some really good things today. You’ve been a gift to me. Thank you.
George Faller 29:57
You’re welcome. You have been a gift to me and I love that we’re able to just open up space to play and kind of just wander and learn from each other. Yeah. Thanks for listening. Keep it hot and positive.
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