1 Vacillator Tension Builds
The Vacillator’s anxiety/tension builds up due to:
- Idealization, which leads to disappointment
- Preoccupation with relational closeness/distance; ruminating on desired outcomes and past hurts
- Feeling abandoned when others differ or separate
- Addressing problems with complaints rather than requests
- Arrivals/departures, or waiting for the spouse to engage
2 Controller Tension Builds
Controller builds up anxiety/tension due to:
- Being rigid, easily angered, and deregulated.
- Desire for compliance/control create predictability. Unpredictability is a reminder of childhood trauma.
- Anger being a defense against painful/vulnerable feelings.
- Desiring control, not connection.
- Having no empathy for self or others
3 Vacillator Vents Frustration
The Vacillator vents/protests/releases their tension. They assume their partner’s motives are to intentionally hurt them, and they match the Controllers anger with their own anger. This can devolve into a shouting match with the possibility of violence.
4 Controller Threatened
Crisis point. Feeling that their control is threatened, the Controller uses anger and intimidation to regain control.
5 Vacillator Returns Anger
The Vacillator matches the Controllers anger with their own. Any statements are black-and-white. They react with contempt and disgust.
The crisis ends in a standoff. There is no resolution, but tension may die down. This is simply the calm before the next storm.
This cycle starts all over again or destroys the relationship.