Vacillator-Avoider Core Pattern

We are thrilled to announce that all of the new Attachment Core Pattern Therapy packages are now available. Recently we trademarked “Attachment Core Pattern Therapy” ™ and have written new material which greatly expands the “Duets” section from the book. Milan and Kay have produced sixty minute CDs explaining each of the Core Patterns and interventions for how to get out of them. Additionally, each CD includes an extensive PDF file with a diagram of the Core Pattern as well as a written description and interventions for change.

The new series includes:
• Attachment Core Pattern Therapy ™ Overview
• The Vacillator-Avoider Core Pattern
• The Avoider-Pleaser Core Pattern
• The Pleaser-Vacillator Core Pattern
• The Controller-Vacillator Core Pattern
• The Controller-Victim Core Pattern
• The Vacillator-Vacillator Core Pattern
• Less Common Patterns: Avoider-Avoider and Pleaser-Pleaser

For the next few weeks, we will be giving you a brief description and overview of each of these Core Patterns.

Vacillator-Avoider Core PatternAs the love styles collide, the Avoider feels constantly in “trouble” for disappointing their spouse. The passionate connection and the intense good feelings of the early relationship are replaced with the Vacillator’s passionate anger, hurt and disappointment as “real life” sets in. As the Vacillator devalues the relationship, the Avoider retreats and reverts to the independent lifestyle they adopted in their childhood home.
The Vacillator feels devastated when the “passionate connection” is lost. They feel angry, betrayed, and abandoned as they discover the Avoider’s lack of ability to connect. They do not understand that because the Avoider never experienced close emotional connections growing up, they cannot understand or value what the Vacillator wants. Initially, Vacillators are willing to work hard to get the Avoider to respond and engage. Over time, however, they become increasingly angry when the Avoider is incapable of providing the consistent, passionate connection they desire. Unlike the Pleaser, they voice their anger, further driving the Avoider into a mode of retreat.
The Vacillator goes through a pattern of protest, despair and detachment over and over when their idealized hopes and dreams don’t materialize. Over time they may give up and detach and appear to be a detached Avoider when in fact they are a Vacillator who has given up hope.

We hope you enjoy these and find hope that change is possible with God’s grace and hard work!



26 Responses to “Vacillator-Avoider Core Pattern”

My husband is an Avoider and, as I ( a Vacillator) see it, our biggest problem has always been his sexual addiction (fantasy and self-gratification.) He had this problem years before I knew him and we have been married close to 30 years. He finally told me after 15 yrs of marriage, although I always knew there was a problem, he would not discuss it. So of course I am devastated, angry, and stuck in the pattern you described. I don’t think we ever had a “passionate connection” because of his sexual addiction—he isn’t really very interested in me sexually. “Idealized hopes and dreams”? Is that what you call—expecting my husband to be faithful to me, to not lust after “every woman he sees”, to make love with me more than once or twice a month, to not imagine himself with other women while being intimate with me, to not lie to me, etc?! No, this is SIN and yes, detachment is an option for me. We are trying to keep our marriage together and heal by going to Celebrate Recovery. We are just starting and like it. We have been on a sexual fast for 2 1/2 months by mutual agreement and may resume intimacy this weekend. Although, I am afraid and do not trust him with my heart. If he chooses his sexual addiction over me again, however, I will probably become just his roommate in a separate bedroom. I pray to God that does not happen. I want a loving, fulfilling, God honoring marriage for both of us.

This is not what we mean by idealized hopes and dreams. Avoiders are prone to sexual addiction because there is such a LACK of nurturing connection and touch in their childhood home that when they discover sex and masturbation they feel alive. I am not excusing the behavior I am just pointing out how the avoider male can be set up by the lack of emotional nurturing and touch during childhood. Wondering if you can have any compassion for the injury under the sinful behavior? That being said, I am so sorry for your suffering. There is a tremendous amount of pain and detachment would be a normal response under these circumstances. Your husband has gotten relief through pornography because he did not learn to go to people. This will be very important in his healing. He will need to learn to go to you and talk about his stresses and struggles rather than turn to a non relational source of relief. Celebrate recovery is a GREAT start and I applaud you for being willing and going with him. I hope he can appreciate what a gift you are giving him by sticking with him and trying. I am praying for you both as I close. Blessings, Kay

My husband is an avoider that has struggled with pornography to different degrees since his early teens. I knew that it was part of his past when we got engaged – he was brave enough to tell me. We read “Love and Respect” by Emerson Eggerich (I highly recommend this book) and one part really stuck out to me. Something about being your spouse’s friend. If a friend came to you and shared their struggle with sin in this area you would be more likely to offer compassion, understanding, and support. Of course it’s so much harder with a spouse because it feels like a personal insult. A few years into marriage during a conflict my husband wrote me a letter confessing his struggle with porn during our marriage. When things got stressful for him at work and we were not getting along he fell back into his sin. I’m thankful that I read it in a letter so that I could consider my response. I came back to him in our room and burned the letter in a bowl and blew it out the window for him to see and told him, “I forgive you”. Instead of condemning him in his shame I pursued him with love and forgiveness and held him up. We prayed and made love. I so appreciate that he trusted me with his shame and since then he has shared with me immediately after falling or being tempted so that we can be reconciled again – only twice in the last year! You have to know that it’s NOT personal – this was his struggle long before he could reject you. He needs you to demonstrate the unconditional love and forgiveness of Jesus. Lean into Jesus and ask him to give you creative ideas on how to pursue your husbands heart in the darker scary places.

Wow, I feel like you just “read my (our) book”. I suppose vacillator’s need to remember when you are pointing a finger at someone else, you have four pointing back at you.

Just found out about this book and website last week. And I am the Vacillator and my wife is an Avoider. Been trying to get my wife to talk with me for over 6 months and I still get very little. Don’t know what to do anymore!!! My wanting to talk has pushed my wife to never want to talk to me and let me in. I try to give her the space she needs but she makes no effort to meet me half way.
Smh. This is truly painful.

Your description of the Vascillator-Avoider Role Pattern is spot-on regarding my wife and I. I’m the Vascillator and she’s the Avoider. I can hardly remember ever feeling so outcast and rejected as I feel now. I would love to be physically, emotionally, and spiritually intimate. But cuddle? Engage in foreplay? She would much rather read Agatha Christie until she’s ready to fall asleep, or avoid coming to bed altogether. Men have feelings and talk about them? I think the very idea scares her and she will quickly find something else to avoid this foreign practice. Examine our relationships with God and each other? She only wants to know whether or not there’s a commandment to be obeyed or a sin to be overcome. To her, there’s nothing else to talk about. If I try to point out there is a problem in our marriage, she’s quick to point out the only problem is with me and then garners support from her family-of-origin. To them, I’m the one that’s unnecessarily different. I used to second-guess my expectations thinking they were unrealistic. But now, I’m just realizing that my expectations with her and her family in particular are unrealistic. I have a few friends with whom I can be emotionally and spiritually intimate, and for this I am grateful. And I pray that God keeps me from temptation for physical intimacy outside of marriage. May He transform my sexual energy into spiritual energy. Lastly, I pray for the courage to change the things I can, knowing she is not one of them. I would love to send her the descriptive paragraph in this blog and discuss it. But I’m tired of being disappointed.

I am a Vacillator and my husband is an Avoider! We have been married 13 years. I feel so lonely and ignored! We have a 12 year old daughter. Whom we love very much. I dread the day she is gone and I am left here all by myself with a husband who lives in his own little world!!!

Some men who won’t read the book will watch the DVD of How we Love. It is broken into half hour segments so it’s presented in very small bites. Your growth may encourage his growth.

I am now listening to your book after leading a 9-week book club studying your book in 2014. My husband Michel whom I met a year ago presented himself as a pleaser. We got married on 5/14/2016 and 4 months later her served me with the divorce papers.

This short-lived marriage has been the most devastating experience in my life. I am a vacillator. He is no pleaser. He is a typical avoider. In our dating, during conflict he pursued me and that’s how we were able to reconcile every time.

During marriage, any conflict caused him to ignore me, avoid me, and what started as a day or a few-day avoiding pattern grew into months of avoiding now.

Interestingly, every single time he approached me for reconciliation, I forgave and accepted him, but any time I tried to approach him, he rejects me every time. He served me with the divorce papers on 9/25 and then came and asked to sleep in my bed and seduced me that night. But after that he started ignoring me again and again and reject my every effort to even talk.

I wish I realized earlier that he was an avoider. I am devastated from this divorce. And he refused counseling. I also invited him to your workshop but he also refused. Now we are having a divorce hearing next month and I am dead on the level of my soul thinking what we’ve done with our marriage.

He wrote me an EMAIL while I was at home… and he admitted he ignored me intentionally because of his ego just to prove his point (how much he doesn’t needs me)…. We both have severe childhood trauma. I’ve survived physical and sexual abuse, being born out of wedlock to an alcoholic family who taught severely and daily. His mom died when he was two and he never had a father either.

Thank you for all your teachings. Everyone needs to read / listed to your book AND apply it before it’s too late. I’m so sad my marriage didn’t survive this pattern that you say 1/3 of all your events attendees have….

Every couple has a core pattern. The question is this…”Will you each own your love style and seek to grow?” Dating is a great time to test out someones willingness to grow. If they refuse that’s not a good sign. Any two people in a married relationship will need to put time and effort into growing. Things get harder after marriage not easier because we let down more and we see one another’s best and worst traits. In dating, it’s mostly the best. So this is a great chance to read the book together and do the workbook. Order your core pattern (CD and PDF is on the CD) and read it together and follow the steps described to exit the core pattern. Blessings, kay

I need to decide on what exactly to buy but there is no doubt that this dance describes my wife and I. She is the vascillator while I am the pleaser/avoider. It is so encouraging to know that I am not crazy but sad to realize how difficult it is to overcome some of this. We have been married 17 years. She will be filing for divorce once the mandatory year of separation is complete. She has no desire for reconciliation and has moved on with her life. I am a recovering addict to pornography. I first found it when I was 9 and have been hooked ever since. I learned that it made me feel more “alive” than anything else and it was an easy escape from the difficulties of life. I was open and honest with her about this prior to our marriage but after 17 years of this being between us I can appreciate why she no longer feels she can work through this. The infidelity of the addiction to porn has been too destructive. Her stand has saved my life as I have been in therapy for anxiety, a specialized program for sexual addictions, prayer sessions with my pastor, diet changes, exercise changes, development of stronger relationships with other healthy men and stronger accountability through relationship with other men. Since everything broke loose and we started the separation, I have been living sober. It has been the longest 8 months of living free that I have ever experienced. I did not think it was possible but God’s grace has been amazing. Instead of trying to stop the behavior I have been working on pressing through the shame, accepting forgiveness, forgiving myself, accepting God’s immense love for me, etc. It is nice to see how it would be possible to experience reconciliation if we were to participate in learning through this program. There is no doubt that this is spot on for our relationship. Thanks for reading.

So sad for your pain but so happy for your growth. God will use your personal growth in every relationship you have. Taking ownership of your part is what it’s all about. Thanks for sharing your story. Blessings k

Every word is true. Perfect description of the relationship I am in.

I have told myself a thousand times…”enough is enough”.

Lies, deception, lack of empathy….

The goal is to identify the brokenness and with a correct diagnosis you can grow and change!! It’s possible to change and the workbook can help you if you are willing to do it together. Blessings, kay

My boyfriend (actually he can’t bring himself to be “boyfriend” yet) is a major avoider. I’m a major vacillator. It’s definitely creating some issues. He is fine to read his chapter and learn, but he stops there because he doesn’t identify with the history of the avoider. He says his family is way too emotional and that they were too nurturing and so he decided as a child that someone had to be the strong one and not so emotional. How can I reach him? Is there a possibility that over nurturing parents create an avoider? He is to the extreme of the pendulum. And I am to the extreme for my side too, so I’m dealing with a lot of anger and anxiety.

Good insights. He is reacting to an overly emotional family. I wonder why he needed to be strong? How emotional? Yelling? Anger? Violence? Just good to know more details about what he means by “too emotional”. Maybe he was missed while everyone else was emotional? You can be any of the love styles and not have the most common family traits that produce that style. The important thing is to change to become a more secure connector, no matter what the family dynamics growing up. Apologies are necessary when you are mean, cutting or harsh with your anger. The bible say…”be angry but don’t sin.” If you are always chasing him and apologizing to make peace that will cause resentment at some point. See what happens if you just wait it out. Hope this helps, Kay

Also, I’m finding myself wanting to apologize a lot for situations that aren’t my fault to ease the anxiety I feel in the tension between us. Is that normal for a vacillator? How do I convince myself that an apology isn’t appropriate and that it’s really probably self serving.

Anxiety is an unpleasant feeling. Go back in time and explore when you first felt anxious in relationships growing up. I doubt this started with your husband. How did you handle the anxiety as a kid? How were apologies handled in your family? What are you afraid will happen if your don’t apologize and ease the tension? I would download the journaling worksheet (go to freebies) and go through that exercise. Could you tell your husband you are feeling anxious? Or tell him if this reminds you of a childhood experience?

I just took the quiz and I’m the vascilator, and my husband is the avoider. What is the best resource as we want to do the workbook and change? There looks like there are several options of things to buy, but what would help the most? Thanks. -BethAnn

First read the book or watch the DVD’s of the six hour workshop if you are not readers. Then do the workbook together over 12 to 18 months. If you try to go too fast the avoider will become overwhelmed and want to give up. Go slow and don’t give up. The other helpful product would be the CD on the Vacillator/Avoider Core Pattern. It comes with a PDF that will help you understand steps to exit the core pattern. Read in the workbook, How to help the Avoider (at the end of the workbook chapter for avoiders) and have your husband read how to help the vacillator (at the end of the workbook chapter for the vacillators.) Acknowledge when you are in the core pattern, take a time out and have a do-over. Use the Guide for Listener and Feeling word list (look under freebies) and practice going around the comfort circle. This Listener Guide is a framework that will help you each become better listeners.
Blessings, kay

Is it common for only women to be vacillators? I’m a vacillator and my wife is an Avoider and recently she asked for a divorced after being married 2 in half years. From what I’ve seen, vacillators typically run when their emotional needs are not met, I on the other hand didn’t run but started accepting that my wife and I would not be so intimate as our first year together. I didn’t know the different love styles until I started reading this book and truly opened my eyes and certainly feel a sense of relief from my end knowing I can go back to my roots and grieving properly to become a better man. I guess the reason for my comment here is to maybe get a bit more advice as to what approaches I could take to communicate better with my wife since she decided to give it another try but “not inlove with me” I don’t want to over crowd her and or sleep in the same bed. I want to give her space but I wonder if there’s anything I could maybe do with my unique situation. If it is unique? We do plan on taking marriage classes but I’m in fear that she may have already checked out since I sucked her dry from all the love she gave me and feel so selfish from it. She couldn’t communicate to me what was going on but still feel like I ducked everything out of her to where she had nothing left to give.

Your combination, male vacillator, female avoider is just as common as if the genders are reversed. I’m going to guess it was your anger and complaining that drove her away. You are wise to go slow. Make an effort understand the childhood wounds underneath her Avoider traits. Will she do the workbook with you? If so, go at a slow pace so she isn’t overwhelmed. You could start by asking her to read the vacillator chapter and tell you how your love style has hurt her. Ownership is disarming. Remember, your behavior and expectations came out of your own wounds. I love your heart and your willingness to want to change. That’s the most important trait needed in a good marriage…the willingness to examine yourself and grow. Keep up the good work!!

Having a background in psychology, I find attachment theory very interesting. I am currently seeing an attachment trauma therapist. My husband and I have been married almost 8 years. He is an avoider, I am a major vacillator. It is very difficult to discern whether my vacillator tendencies are a result of my betrayal trauma/ptsd caused by his porn addiction, or if my tendencies are a result of seeking that “consistent connection” typical of my love style. I idealize romantic relationships with significant others, but I don’t idealize any other relationships. I experienced very secure attachment growing up, and was an only child until age five. My mom battled cancer when I turned 9, and she died when I was 12. While I believe those tumultuous years played a role in developing my vacillatious attachment style, I think that betrayal trauma contorts the attachments of even the most secure people. Years of deceit and infidelity will cause any securely attached person to become insecurely attached. I’ve always readily owned my part in conflict, and have desperately done whatever was needed to resolve my own issues. Admittedly, I can always improve the ways I relate to and communicate with my husband. Frankly, I’m just tired of fighting for our marriage and being told I’m the one who needs to change. Although we’ve both matured tremendously through our experiences, it seems our marital problems are worse than ever.

I’m the vacillator, my wife is the avoider. Been married almost 15 years. She is incredibly talented, smart, stable, and has an inexplicable knack for being good at darn near anything she puts her mind too (even on the first try), and almost always perfects it in a short period of time. Her love language is acts of service. I’m a physical touch/words of affirmation guy. Anyone who is around me would consider me confident, strong, passionate, compassionate and humorous. But the only person I really want to please is my wife. I struggle with her wanting to be passionate with me, and prioritize me to the degree she is with everything else. I am jealous of her dedication to all noble areas of her life and feel I get the scraps. This isn’t necessarily true, as my expectations I am realizing are likely too high, but it is certainly how I feel. She is so naturally perfect (I mean that in an affectionate way, not condescending) and she strives for perfection. I am not a perfectionist by any measure, so struggling to do acts of service for her, to love her in her language, doesn’t work often because I can’t seem to match the level of perfection she desires. It causes me to not want to try anymore (vacillate). Our marriage is strong and truly healthy for the most part. I want it stronger and I want to do my part. I’ll readily admit that when I took the quiz and saw that I had high (negative) scores in Vacillator, Avoider, and Pleaser, and she only had Avoider (everything else was a healthy green bar for her), it felt like one more blow of where she is perfect and the fault is with me once again. How do I begin to assess correctly if my expectations for her love and affection (she willingly has sex often but it’s to accommodate me, not because she actually desires me) is too high or if there is any issue she needs to work through? It’s obviously a both/and, rather than an either/or, and I can’t change her, but I need to be able to assess when I am doing what I should in a healthy manner vs when I am not.

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