Pleaser & Vacillator – Similarities & Differences

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For a few weeks we are going to do a series on similarities and differences between the different styles. We are asked certain questions again and again when we teach How We Love workshops. Here are the most common questions to help clarify your love style.

Are you a pleaser or a vacillator?
Pleasers are similar to vacillators in one way. They both like proximity and try to please to make others happy. However, their motives differ. Pleasers are nice to avoid conflict and rejection. Vacillators are nice to gain attention and be noticed. Many times at our conferences someone will come up and say, “I think I am a pleaser, but I’m not sure. I always ask this question, “Do you get mad?” If the answer is, “No, I don’t get angry,” then I can be pretty sure they are a pleaser. Pleasers don’t get angry as it might cause conflict and pleasers are terrified of fighting because they don’t like anyone to be angry with them. Pleasers believe anger isn’t “nice” and pleasers like harmony. In fact learning to feel and express anger is a growth goal for pleasers.
If the answer is, “Yes I get mad,” then my next guess is this…”I think you may be a vacillator.” Vacillators try to please to make some sort of connection happen. If their efforts do not produce the desired effect then vacillators get mad whereas pleasers will just try harder. The vacillator’s anger may be direct and loud or it may be a sudden dark mood that sends a clear message of displeasure. Vacillators protest, (anger) then feel despair, (this will never change) then detach. Protest, despair, detachment. Eventually vacillators re-engage (without resolution) and the pattern repeats. After many years the vacillators may permanently detach and give up trying. At this point they may say,” I think I’m an avoider”.
Avoiders don’t have a pattern of protest, despair, and detachment. They have never expressed disappointment over a lack of connection. Are you a detached vacillator? Then anger has probably diminished as you have given up on the relationship. I see a danger at this point for the vacillator’s anger to turn into a root of bitterness. While this bitterness may feel justified bitterness takes a toll on body, mind and spirit. In fact the bible says it damages not only you but others around you. Read Hebrews 12: 14-17.