Transform Your Relationship Communication with EFT and Break the Demander and Withdrawer Cycle

It’s not uncommon for couples to get into a negative communication cycle. While this can take a number of forms, one of the most common is the Demand Withdraw Cycle where one partner pursues and the other retreats. The good news is that any negative cycle can be broken with understanding and reframing. This is where Emotional Focused Couples Therapy can help.

The first step to breaking the cycle is to recognize the existence of the pattern. It’s easy and common to label one person as the problem, but it’s more effective to understand that it’s the pattern – not the person – that’s causing the hurt.

When both partners recognize their own patterns of behaviour and understand the underlying cycle then the pattern begins to change to a more constructive way of relating. Engaging in open and honest communication, where both partners express their needs, fears, and desires, can foster understanding and bridge the emotional gap.

EFT encourages couples to understand and map their behaviours, emotions, self- perceptions, views of their partner, and their deepest needs. This may require the help of a trained therapist, but once couples understand this pattern, they can start to communicate more effectively and address the core issues driving the cycle.

Behind every demand and withdrawal, there’s a deeper, unmet need. Instead of focusing on the surface-level disagreements, EFT encourages partners to identify and express these underlying needs. For example, rather than arguing about who does more housework, a couple might discover that one partner needs to feel valued, while the other needs to feel understood.

By focusing on these fundamental needs, couples can create a safe space where both partners feel seen, heard, and loved.

EFT fosters an environment for open, soft, and gentle communication. This type of communication minimizes blame, criticism, and defensiveness. Instead, it encourages understanding, empathy, and connection.

Emotionally focused conversations might involve expressions like “I feel scared when I perceive you pulling away” or “I withdraw because I fear I might say something to upset you.” By expressing emotions and needs this way, partners can gain a better understanding of each other, which can reduce conflict and increase connection.

Once couples learn to identify their patterns and express their needs openly and vulnerably, they can begin to replace the demander-withdrawer cycle with a new, supportive cycle. This new cycle is about meeting each other’s needs in a loving, respectful, and understanding way. Instead of withdrawing or demanding, partners learn to turn towards each other, creating an atmosphere of trust and connection.

The Pursuer can learn to self-soothe and manage their anxiety, while the Withdrawer can practice expressing emotions and offering reassurance in a way that aligns with their need for autonomy.

Breaking free from the demander-withdrawer cycle can feel like an uphill battle. However, through Emotionally Focused Therapy, couples can gain a deeper understanding of the emotional dynamics driving their pattern and learn to communicate their needs effectively.

Remember, it’s not about who’s right or wrong. It’s about understanding and honouring each other’s emotions and needs. By doing so, you can replace the painful demander-withdrawer cycle with a more loving, supportive, and nurturing pattern of interaction.

If you are interested in exploring how the negative communication cycle is affecting your significant relationships or need help with your relationship call Lee Beaton on 0491638124 or via email at to arrange an appointment.

Lee has been trained and is qualified to use a variety of therapeutic modalities. Her approach has been heavily influenced by Gestalt and Buddhist Psychotherapy which is the restoration of choice through awareness. Lee integrates a number of somatic therapies (body based) and mind shifting techniques in her work with clients, including empty chair, Internal Family Systems (IFS), Emotional Focused Therapy (EFT) and guided imagery.

Lee will be working only on select dates after the 25th of December. January: 2-4, 13-17, then back to normal office hours from January 23rd.