Friendship: The Cat and Mouse Chase

Friendship: The Cat and Mouse Chase

Ever watched a cat chase a mouse? Got the image in your mind? Now imagine two friends playing a cat and mouse game. Here’s why – I chased Kathy like a cat in hot pursuit of a mouse until she decided to be my friend. Really! She would scamper across the room like a little mouse going back into her hole when I would get too close. Then when I would see her little head pop out I’d try to stop her from going back into her hole. Squeaking and trembling, she finally gave in and decided to be my friend.

When Kathy and I first began our friendship I was the “pursuer” and she was the “distancer”. I pursued her for a friendship; I initiated most of the connections and I did everything I knew to secure a friendship with her. She, being the distancer, would run from me, hide at times, and complain I was smothering her because she was afraid of a close friendship.

I was drawn to Kathy for reasons beyond my understanding. I wanted a closely connected friendship with her because I knew she was good stuff and I wanted her as a friend. Little known fact: I go after what I want!! Had she not been so difficult to catch, I wouldn’t have been as persistent. I do love a challenge and that she was!

Kathy: Yes I was difficult! I was not familiar with all that was coming at me. I felt stressed and anxious at times not knowing how to “behave” in a friendship this close. If she hadn’t hung on for the fight, I would have been left hanging without her friendship. However, the very thing that made me afraid was what I really longed for – a closely connected friend. Thank goodness, she didn’t quit.

Linda: Not giving up on Kathy was the very thing she needed even though it appeared she hated it so much. She ran because she didn’t feel safe enough to connect. But she would never feel safe until she allowed herself to be in a relationship where connecting was necessary. She put off all kinds of signals that screamed: “Leave me alone, I’ll be your friend, but not as close as you want me to be.” Yet deep down inside that was the very thing she craved. Little by little she came out of her hole and distanced herself less and less. Eventually she allowed me to become her closest friend.

Adults can do some crazy things because they didn’t get all of their emotional needs met as a child. In order to get their needs met they may do the exact opposite of what they really want. Check out the following example of the “pursuer” and the “distancer”:

Pursuer: “If I don’t grab you as you go by, I will be lost.”

Their conscious wish: “Don’t leave.”

Their unconscious wish: The ability to enjoy space.

Distancer: “If I explore intimacy with you I will be absorbed.”

Their conscious wish is: “Give me space!”

Their unconscious wish is: To connect consistently.

If these dynamics sound familiar to you and your friend, hang on. Let the cat and mouse chase continue. Eventually the chase will work to your advantage if you let it and both of you will have your unconscious needs met. Today, we are much healthier. Kathy no longer needs to distance herself from me because she has received what she really wanted all along – to connect consistently. And I no longer have to pursue her like I did because she is not going anywhere. I know she will always be my friend. This cat got the mouse!

Friend Coaching Tip: Stay in the chase and let it grow you.


~ by thefriendshipdoctors on July 8, 2010.

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