The "Rubber Band" theory in relationships--
Is it real?
If there's one dynamic that's a sticky issue
between two people who decide to be a couple, it's
One person feels the need to "retreat" every now
and then and the other person feels unloved and
abandoned when it happens.
Pretty simple to describe but not simple to deal
One of our long time subscribers to our
newsletters wrote to ask if we support the "rubber
band" theory in relationships in relationship
breakthrough coaching practice.
We hope we're talking about the same thing
because as we think about it, the first time we
heard about the "rubber-band" theory was when we
originally read John Gray's book "Men are from
Mars, Women are from Venus."
While we know that many people get a lot of
benefit from John Gray's gender difference
information, we think the issue is much broader and
deeper than just being about a differences between
men and women.
We have seen this dynamic too many times in both
genders to assign one set of behaviors to one and
another set to another.
In the past, we've called this dynamic the
Here's a description of what we've seen...
One person (either gender) pulls away for
whatever reason and the other person pushes in some
form or another because he or she feels a loss of
love and connection.
Why do some people feel the need to pull away at
- Overwhelm --the need to feel "in control"
when emotions get out of control.
- Habit--the way you learned to "resource"
yourself or make yourself feel better--maybe
from watching someone in your family do it that
- Protection--you may feel threatened in some
way and feel the need to withdraw and protect
So why do some people "push" when the partner
pulls away (even though they may not think they are
- Fear--you feel abandoned and fear that you
love will be taken away from you.
- Habit--you learned to "push" when you
weren't getting what you wanted.
- Protection--you learned to protect yourself
from losing what you have by reacting and
We could go on and on but the point is that we
are all different and react differently to
situations and to the triggers in our lives.
What can you do about it if you're in this kind
The woman sent us the question told us that she
and her boyfriend were working through it. He is
beginning to recognize when he pulls away and is
also trying to reassure her that he will be
She has shared with him how his pulling away
makes her feel and she "allows him to pull away"
but maybe "not at the level he thinks it should
We think the two of them are taking solid steps
toward understanding one another, allowing each
other to be who they are, and keeping their
connection-- even when it's tough.
Here are some more suggestions...
1. Notice your patterns and when you either
withdraw and pull away or feel abandoned and either
push against or withdraw.
Don't label it "right or wrong." Just notice
2. Go inside.
When you notice you are doing whatever it is you
are doing to separate from each other, instead of
trying to figure it out in your head, take your
attention to the feeling.
From the feeling, you may get a sense of what
For instance, if you withdraw, you may get a
strong sense that you feel out of control or
fearful for some reason and you need to be alone
for awhile--and it may or may not have anything to
do with your partner.
Or you may feel suffocated and it comes down to
a fear of commitment and a fear of opening deeply
If you feel abandoned, feel what you need--
maybe it's reassurance and maybe it's just to learn
to resource yourself in some way.
3. Keep the lines of communication open.
Like our newsletter subscriber, allow yourself
to open to listening and understanding how the
other person thinks and feels.
Even if you've been in a relationship with each
other for many years, there is still much to learn
if you truly listen.
Have the courage to say what you need--not from
blame but from your heart.
4. Resource yourself in new ways.
If you withdraw, as soon as you realize what
your needs are, ask for time alone if you need it
but reassuring your partner that you will be back
and that you do love them.
Also take a look at your stories about why you
need to withdraw. It might be a very real need but
it also might be a habit that you no longer are
willing to keep doing. You may want to learn how to
"stay" when it's tough.
If you are with a partner who withdraws, you can
begin to challenge the stories that are running in
your head--that are old, habitual ways of
These stories might be--"I'm not good enough" or
"They always leave." One way to deal with them is
to challenge them and choose a better outlook for
Whatever pattern you discover, allow the space
for something different to happen in your life
instead of playing and acting out old, worn out
tapes that no longer serve you.
Becoming conscious of what takes us away from
love and then taking steps toward more love is
But it doesn't have to be "hard."
It just takes a little courage and a willing,
& Otto Collins
Other Relationship Issues,
and Otto Collins are spiritual and life partners
who are committed to helping others create
outstanding relationships of all kinds. They
regularly write, speak and conduct workshops and
seminars on love, relationships and personal and
spiritual growth to audiences all across the USA.
They are the creators of the "Relationship Toolkit"
which has helped people in over a dozen countries
improve their relationships. It includes a video
Partnerships plus two
and Relationship Success
Relationship Quotes Worth a Million
Dollars! You can also
read more articles like these and subscribe to
their weekly newsletter on love and relationships
by visiting their web site at www.collinspartners.com
Their new E-book Should You Stay or Should You
Go? has just been released and is now available
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