Vacillator-Pleaser 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 Vacillator-Pleaser 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. – See more at:

Vacillator-Pleaser Core Pattern

As the imprints collide, the Pleaser cannot keep up with the idealized expectation of the Vacillator. As they make mistakes, and feel irritability from the Vacillator, their anxiety returns and they become concerned with avoiding conflict. Initially, they try harder to make it work, wanting to again feel the Vacillator’s pleasure and praise. Vacillators confront and Pleasers attempt to avoid confrontation which sets up a chase scene.

The Vacillator becomes disillusioned when the initial passion begins to wane. They want their spouse to understand and want them, not just please them. The Pleaser’s anxious scurrying around makes them feel placated, rather than known and valued. This isn’t what they expected and over time the Pleaser’s efforts become annoying. The Vacillator becomes more agitated and upset, and they don’t realize Pleasers don’t know how to connect in a reciprocal way because they don’t know how to receive. Since Pleasers did not learn to have soul words growing up, and no one was asking about their heart, they cannot relate on this level.

The Pleaser tries to fix any negative emotions by doing nice things, so their spouse is happy. Moving towards the difficult feelings of others (or their own), makes them anxious because they don’t know what to do. Since the Vacillator doesn’t understand these deeper dynamics, they feel more and more unloved, and more and more disillusioned and angry.

The Pleaser keeps trying. After all, they have been pleasing for their whole life. Over time, resentment begins to build but Pleasers rarely express anger openly so it may be expressed in passive ways. They feel they are walking on eggshells and while their efforts may make the Vacillator happy for a while, it won’t be peaceful for long. If the pattern continues long enough, the Pleaser’s resentment may build to the point that they give up trying or leave their spouse. If the couple remains in this pattern for years, their marriage is often filled with bitterness and resentment.



12 Responses to “Vacillator-Pleaser Core Pattern”

Wow! This just described my marriage. My husband is frequently trying to do things for me around the house to please me and I just want to connect deeply with him. When I finally get him to sit and connect, I see anxiety and bewilderment in his face. Now I know why! I’ve always thought of myself as a deep person, capable of intense emotional connection and now I see that I am compensating for what I experienced as a child. My feelings were never a priority. So enlightening!! I have some work to do!

Recently my pastor out our church recommnded I read How We Love. It was the biggest eye-opener in my life. Since I have been with my wife (together for 10 years) I have experienced her moving out of our home many, many times. I have been the problem, not happy, not fulfilled, or I let my wife down. All of these things have been used to describe me or our relationship. I was told that we could possibly be a vacillator/pleaser couple. I am so shocked to learn so much about us and see how we fit the pattern. I look back on what my wife has told me about her child hood and what she has been like through her adult years I am now a firm believer she is a vacillator. I am a pleaser. I have no idea how to get my wife and love of my life to work with me to deal with our problem.

Change and grow yourself! This is the best way to help you spouse see that change is possible. Go through the pleaser growth goals in the back of How WE love (workbook section) and ask her to pick one growth goal for you that would be most helpful to her. Then make an effort to really work on this goal. You can do the workbook with out with out her. Blessings, kay

My husband and I just took your test and we want to read your book. I’m a overwhelming vacillator and he’s a victim/pleaser. Have you ever come across this in a couple? I didn’t see vacillator/victim in your core pattern list so I’m thinking maybe it uncommon? 🙂 this is all so helpful and intriguing! There’s so much insight! I had begun to see this shortly after our marraige, epecially with my husband that his past directly affected out marraige. Just recently i am realizing that mine does too. It was a huge step for us to take the quiz after listening to the focus on the family broadcast! I looked at all the profiles and read the article about the difference between the victim and the pleaser!!! What do you do when both of those love styles are prevalent in one person?!

Instead of askin if you had come a cross this before (since I’m sure you probably have!) I should have asked if there were any more blogs about this or any insight you could give me? I’m ex tied about getting the book. But mostly excited about working together with my husband on our relationship!

Hi Tessie, The pleaser and victim are similar in that they both have trouble with boundaries and let others dominate them. The difference is the pleaser puts a lot of effort into trying to please and fix problems by being nice and caretaking. Under stress the pleaser will become anxious and try harder. The victim comes from a more chaotic home where there was fright without solutions. The victim learned to tolerate the intolerable as a kid and often continues to do so as an adult since they have no experience of love and comfort. Victims often marry controllers and the pattern of Controller Victim continues in the next generation. The victim has a history of abuse and often dissociates (a process of numbing and distancing from trauma as it occurs) and both the controller and victim are often addicts because there is so much pain to medicate. I would focus on the vacillator/pleaser core pattern. It will address many of your issues. If your husband suffered trauma in his childhood he may need some professional help to grieve the terrible experiences of his childhood. People from chaotic homes often are completely cut off from their grief. Now as to the workbook….GO SLOW. It’s meant to take a year or more. It’s deep work and cannot be rushed. You are overturning a childhood history of learning to react in a certain way. That’s why we say your marriage problems didn’t start in your marriage, they started in your childhood! Blessing, and keep up the good work of growing.

HI Kay my wife and I went to your class at Journey church and we got a lot of insight
in to our selves thanks Kay and Milan . Do you and Milan take on clients and do you take insurance ?

Milan and I don’t have room but we have 7 therapist in our office, Relationship 180 in Mission Viejo. All of our staff are trained in attachment and the approach we taught on Saturday. The phone number is 94 830 2846. Liz is our administrator who will call you back. thanks for coming to the workshop. Blessings, Kay

Hello! I lean towards Vacillator and my husband is leaning towards Pleaser. He keeps telling me I am an insecure connector and I am the problem and that I have to learn to fix my ways (all this is related to one recent incident). I asked him politely to stop telling my my problems and he refused. He said living with a Vacillator is like living with an alcoholic. He said he has to out the problem and my destructive behavior. He said my behavior will lead to our 2 children having horrible marital relationships.

Is this ok for him to talk to me like this? Is it really helpful for him to tell me I am such an insecure connector and that all the fault likes with me, the Vacillator?

Thank you.

Each person has a step in creating the core pattern. The combo is the problem and the core pattern it creates. Vacillators defend against the pain of disappointment with anger and the pleaser freezes and tries to fix without addressing their own fear and anxiety. Your husband needs to learn how to share his thoughts in a loving, restorative way. If there is something you can own in terms of your behavior or words in the “incident” then try to own it. Bottom line is we can only change ourselves. There are childhood wounds driving your style and until he can see those he won’t have any compassion for why you struggle. Pleasers have a hard time owning their anxiety because they are so accustom to anxiety they don’t notice it it themselves. Please do the workbook together. It can change everything! Blessings, kay

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