Core Pattern: Vacillator + Pleaser

  • Core Patterns tend to manifest as predictable, cyclical behavior patterns. Below is the pattern common to relationships where partners have the Vacillator + Pleaser love styles, respectively.


    1 Vacillator Tension Builds

    The Vacillator’s anxiety/tension begin to build.

    Anxiety Triggers

    • Idealization leads to disappointment
    • Becomes preoccupied with relational closeness/distance and ruminates on desired outcomes and past hurts
    • Feels abandoned when others differ or separate
    • Address problems with complaints rather than requests
    • Departure of others triggers abandonment anxiety. Disappointed if reunions are not ideal.


    2 Vacillator Vents

    The Vacillator vents their frustration and anxiety, assuming their partner’s intent is to hurt them.


    3 Pleaser Responds

    The Pleaser panics/freezes. They may lie to avoid further conflict, or try to minimize the complaints or put a positive spin on them. The Pleaser believes that the Vacillator should be satisfied by their “niceness”.


    4 Vacillator Escalates

    The Vacillator feels dismissed & misunderstood. They want “real” not “nice”; truth, not lies. The Vacillator escalates, protesting angrily.


    5 Pleaser Attempts to Appease

    Anxious about Vacillator’s anger, the Pleaser scurries to do nice things to appease the Vacillator and stem the anger… but does so while avoiding the problem.


    6 Vacillator Escalates Further

    The Vacillator feels abandoned, which intensifies their feelings. Strong language might be used, they may threaten to leave or divorce. Internally, they begin to devalue their partner and, over time, may feel contempt and disgust for them.


    7 Pleaser is Dejected

    The Pleaser’s anxiety intensifies and they become frantic. They feel dejected, thinking “I can never do it right!”


    8 Vacillator Reflects

    Ultimately, the Vacillator’s anxiety is relieved through anger. They may express their displeasure by pouting or sulking. Privately, however, they will review the event and assign motives and intentions to the Avoider’s actions. Eventually, they may privately feel shame over their anger and/or words, and may feel unloveable.


    9 Pleaser Waits

    The Pleaser waits for the Vacillator to re-engage, and is relieved when they finally do. The Pleaser redoubles their efforts to please, in the hopes of avoiding another outburst.


    Eventually, this cycle starts all over again or destroys the relationship.

    Breaking the Cycle

    If you are ready to break this destructive cycle, consider taking a look at the following offerings.

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    Core Pattern: Vacillator + Pleaser (Audio Download)


    This  one hour download provides an in-depth look at Vacillator-Pleaser Core Pattern. It includes a downloadable PDF, which includes a circular diagram of this Core Pattern, explanations and all applicable interventions to exit this destructive dance.

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