First, I hope everyone has a happy and safe Fourth of July if you’re in the United States and celebrating.
I wanted to point out that if you recognize which love style best describes you, it likely shows up not only in your intimate relationships, but in every close relationship that you have (parents, friends, siblings). I can see my vacillator style show up in a lot of my interactions. I can idealize someone, either in a romantic relationship or a friendship, and then feel as though the relationship is ruined when/if they disappointment me in some way. I am constantly on the lookout for signs of being abandoned. That’s a strong statement, let me make it a bit more relatable: If a friend and I have a disagreement or I’m displeased by something they have or haven’t done, part of my brain goes on overdrive and starts to plan how I will disconnect from them if I need to or how it will be if they no longer want to be part of my life. Literally anything can set this off or trigger it. Now, I do want to say that most days I don’t sit and obsess about relationships/friendships and related disappointments, but once my brain gets started it is hard to get it to stop. This isn’t necessarily related to what people think of me, it’s more about my perseverating on what I will do when I feel the inevitable disconnect will happen. But the reality is, people disappoint each other all the time in relationships and friendships, what matters is how those disappointments are communicated and dealt with.
For example, some years ago, I communicated my displeasure with a friend at how she treated me when I was very sick on an international trip we took (she gave me attitude when I wanted to take a shower–thinking the humidity would make me feel better). She took no responsibility for it, didn’t apologize, and wanted to go along as if nothing happened. I wasn’t ok with that, and subsequently ended the friendship when she refused to talk about it. To me, it’s always been more important how someone communicates with you about the action or inaction that upsets you, rather than the actual act itself. I suppose you could argue that leaving friendships is part of my vacillator style, but in reality, I was much less stressed out after this friendship ended as I don’t enjoy when other people diminish what they’ve done to disappoint me. I don’t want friends that can’t own up to hurting me. Taking responsibility is needed in order for people to move on.
If you’re a vacillator and find yourself starved for connection and intensity, read How We Love (or check the website) and ask your friends/partners to communicate with you using the “comfort cycle.” Essentially this entails being attentive and asking what they can do to help. Seems simple, but communicating clearly and compassionately can be hard, especially when someone voices a displeasure–people can become defensive. The main key for vacillators to remember is that people are not mind readers. Do not expect them to just know what you want. If you want an apology, ask for one. If you want a hug, ask for one. If you need space, ASK! Part of the vacillators mindset often entails that if someone ‘really cared” they would know what to do. I fell into this category many times with friendships and intimate relationships. For example, my underlying belief is that if someone cares about me, they will want to spend time with me and initiate making plans (LIKE I DO). This seems simple enough, but the reality is that I am organized and sometimes people suck at making plans. That doesn’t always mean that they don’t care about you or don’t want to see you. So I have had to learn to ask for what I need: ask people to initiate plans with me, be on time, etc. Now, if someone doesn’t do what you request after you tell them it’s important to you—that’s a different story. But the point is to at least give them the chance.
I hope that made sense/is somewhat informative. I can also go more in depth about other personal examples at some point if that would be helpful.