From the Forums
[I] realized that I was the Distancer for most of our Marriage; he was the Pursuer …It has been hard to now resume distancing because that is what I feel like got us here in the first place. I would say that is my biggest struggle right now–how much should I connect with him and how much should I distance.

Often Pursuer and Distancer roles switch if the person leaving was previously the Pursuer; the MLCer usually is the Distancer during MLC. But that is not always the case. Clinging Boomerangs are perhaps the main exception, but other contact types may also take on the Pursuer role.
A Stander who was the natural Distancer may have an easier time adjusting to their MLCer leaving. Distancers appreciate personal alone time. Some may switch roles in the shock and panic that is the typical aftermath of Bomb Drop, but a Distancer may still recover from the loneliness factor faster.

Mixed Messages

  • Let your MLCer initiate contact and communication.
  • You need to maintain some level of contact so as not to hinder reconnection.
  • Do something different; do the opposite.

For some what to do seems clear, though immensely difficult: Limit Contact
When advised to do something different, change, do the opposite… and you were a Pursuer, limiting contact, not pursuing, giving space, distancing… are obvious opposites. But what if you were the Distancer? What if your spouse felt neglected by you? If you distance, will that be more of the same? What if your MLCer used your distancing behaviors as one of the excuses for leaving?
I was and am the Distancer in my marriage and I used to tie my brain in knots over this very issue. This is why Standing is a tightrope act. All of the advice is correct. If you have a Clinging Boomerang or other Pursuer, you won’t need to worry that there will be no contact between you because your MLCer will initiate the contacts. So that handles that. But how are you supposed to maintain a contact limitation in those circumstances? That does not mean No Contact, but some sort of limitation. And since you are supposed to maintain some level of contact, how do you accomplish that while at the same time limiting the level of contact?

Maintaining contact and limiting contact are not opposites. You first need to consider your level of strength and detachment. How long has it been since Bomb Drop?

Early Bomb Aftermath: 0-6 months

(Timelines are approximate and vary with each individual.)
Less is better.
In the beginning you may think that less contact will send you spiraling into more panic and anxiety and that may be true. But more contact may not have better results and may have worse results because dealing with a Monster Replayer may still send you into panic and anxiety. You need to build your strength and detachment so that you can handle contact. That is a priority over maintaining a level of contact for the purpose of a future reconnection.

Contact when you are in the reactive mode created by panic and anxiety will be negative and hinder reconnection.

The extremity of the contact limitations will be dependent on the living arrangements. No Contact will not be possible with an MLCer who lives at home; Dark or Dim are your options. With an MLCer who does not live at home the contact limitations can be stricter—even when you must maintain levels of contact for co-parenting. Go No Contact if you are unable to maintain composure when in contact. Limit communication methods to those that do not involve physical contact and perhaps eliminate live-voice contact as well. Use email and texting.

Detached: 3-18 months after Bomb Drop

Your detachment will increase and waver, but once you have got the hang of it a bit, you can adjust the contact to fit your strength as well as the situation. Contact will help you to test your detachment, thereby increasing it—one step back, two forward.

Is your MLCer in Mean Monster? Set a strict No Contact as a consequence and as a means for you to continue focusing on your increasing strength and detachment. With a Pursuer that does not mean there will be zero contact.

Is your MLCer flirting or trying to seduce you? That is another aspect of Monster. Be firm and say No. I know, that sort of message may feel positive and you want and need it. But the offer is not meant as spousal intimacy. You don’t have to limit contact to No Contact if you do not have a problem saying no to temptation. Be polite and let your MLCer know the boundaries. Intimacy is for a marital and committed relationship. When your MLCer tries to tell you he has changed his mind and is now committed, thank him and then ask how he plans to work with you to repair your broken relationship because he needs to do that before you will resume physical intimacy.

Does your MLCer want to be your friend or your tarnished knight who fixes things around the house? This is where the advice about maintaining a connection becomes practical; it’s also where your MLCer may become a Cake-Eater. But if you want to rebuild your marriage someday, that will never happen if you maintain a permanent No Contact. That seems obvious, right? This period may last a few years and be interspersed with No Contacts as you set boundaries against Cake-Eating and as the dynamics with alienator change and react to the situation.
During this time you are re-establishing a friendship and trust. No, your MLCer is not trustworthy. If there was an alienator in the beginning, there is still likely to be an alienator. You are establishing yourself as the safe zone and helping your MLCer to trust you. Your MLCer left to find comfort and safety. He may have felt you did or would judge him; that you were critical and you would deliberately try to make him feel guilty and ashamed. Whether that accurately describes you or not, it may be how your MLCer feels.
During this time you are setting up the firmness of your Stand because your MLCer doesn’t buy it. That makes sense. He left, he cheated, he blamed you for everything that is wrong, he spewed Monster yuck at you…it is normal to think that you will not want to reconcile. He doesn’t believe you. He tests you with more spew and the alienator relationship continues. It will take 1-3 years of your consistent Standing for him to believe in it. This is Paving the Way.
If you are too severe regarding contact limitations, your MLCer may interpret that as you being over him, not interested, angry, unemotional, uncaring… and thus it’s over. She may not want it to be over, but she is not yet at a point where the thought of losing you scares her into changing. It may scare her, but into a paralyzing rather than active fear.

Detached: 18+ months after Bomb

You re-established trust and now he may think he can do anything since you are a Stander and you won’t leave him. You will always take him back. Boy that cake is good!
Now is the time for strict No Contact. Before, he may not have feared losing you because he was trying to lose you. Now you are his place of safety, you are his comfort, his secret confidant—it may be a secret from you, and leaving you is his greatest regret. And yet he’s not ready to come home either. The alienator still has claws in the situation and he is not strong enough to make a decision one way or the other—even though he knows he does not want the alienator. Emotional Blackmail is not easy to escape.
Your MLCer needs to fear losing you because his fear will now motivate action rather than motivating a sense of hopelessness and poor-me anger. Use No Contact as a consequence for inappropriate spousal behavior.
Call me when you choose to be an appropriate husband/wife. But not until then.

Loosen the boundaries gradually only as conditions are met. Some boundaries may have attached timelines. After multiple moves home and away, I set up a boundary about living together that included a specific time period. We could not live together for a full year from the time Sweetheart left the last time. That would have been increased had he remained with the alienator for that entire year, but he left her within a couple of months. It did not matter what other conditions he met, how perfectly he behaved and what additional assurances he gave; that timeline was firm. I had too much experience with me caving and him leaving to keep doing it.

Related Main Site Series: Contact & Communication
For more information in Pursuit & Distance read The Solo Partner by Phil DeLuca
What have I not covered?
Thoughts, Comments, Ideas…?
Do you have anything to add?
What doesn’t make sense?


When Your MLCer is the Pursuer and You are the Distancer16 Comments

  1. Hi Rosie,

    This annoying comment system is being stingy with word count–and inconsistent too. So I am going to split this into a few replies. Probably at least 3 since last time it wouldn't even allow 180 words and I've written 408. I'm a bit fed-up with it.

    18 months? But your forum profile gives 2008 and in May 2010 you said Bomb Drop had been 2 years prior? Well, either way it has been a long haul hasn't it?
    Not all MLCers will waver or cycle regarding the divorce. But yours did return home once–mid affair of course. I know that was a long time ago in the crisis and he has that he has felt consistent since leaving again.
    I don't think that it makes a difference that he asked for a divorce immediately–Sweetheart did too. And he has not been consistent about it–an 8 month return does not show a consistent crisis.

    My recent post When Your MLCer is the Pursuer and You are the Distancer

    • Cont’d
      I know, he's felt consistent since leaving again. But the alienator's husband said she is dominating your husband–he's heard her doing it through the phone. You don't know what is going on–though we can make an assumption that it is not pleasant.
      What do you say when he emails you and reiterates 'we are getting divorced?' Validate it as a feeling without restating your Stand.
      'Yes I know we are getting divorced; it's been happening for awhile now.
      I only wish you could have a better future than what you are creating. But that is your choice.'
      Okay, I added a bit extra–sometimes I just feel I must!

      So does it sound hopeless?
      No. But I'm an optimist, no situation is hopeless to me. Remember, he's a Vanisher and right now he's a Vanisher with a controlling alienator, so he's not getting opportunities for Liminal space.
      My recent post When Your MLCer is the Pursuer and You are the Distancer

      • Cont’d
        Maybe their relationship needs the legal statuses of their marriages to change for it to advance to the next stages of control and manipulation.
        Are you still in touch with the alienator's husband? Maintain that contact if he is willing–though keep it light and infrequent. But he's going to have some contact due to his daughters and may be able to relay information to you–such as the tension levels. I don't think you should initate contact with your MLCer–at least not for several months once the divorce is finalized. Get your information from other sources and let the relationship go where it is supposed to go. It started as infidelity–strike against. She is controlling–strike against. She brings kids into the mix, blended family–strike against. But it needs to sink without your interference.

        My recent post When Your MLCer is the Pursuer and You are the Distancer

  2. Gotcha RCR! I had trouble posting too. I had to delete a lot of stuff! I guess I'm mixed up – two bomb drops: 1st: June 08. Came home Feb.09 to Sept 09 then left again. Has been asking for a divorce but was giving me time to "adjust"…Then sent me a court order this past winter which I convinced him to withdraw on the agreement to sign a settlement. Got the settlement agreement and DISagreed with a few points and now he says court order again. I am ready to sign because (complicated but let's just say financially imperative).. He has given me until May 15th or he will sue me in court again for the divorce. I agree 100% about the ow's husband.

  3. cont. Found out that his daughter has just been diagnosed with chronic disease (more tension – good) but of course I feel sorry for the girl. My H is a "fixer" so maybe this adds to his attachment? She needs him and that counts? Why? I and my sons needed him too! also found out through him that they are looking at houses together…..and that was a blow. H refuses to say anything about his relationship with her to me – in love, just someone to fill the space – whatever. I get nothing at all about his personal life from him. He doesn't talk about her with our children either since he invited them somewhere and then said he was bringing her and was rebuffed by them. I guess the settlement agreement will be signed – the divorce could come in a few months after that unless a miracle occurs. I am going dark to him as soon as I let him know I will sign and I will say something similar to what you suggest. Now here is an interesting circumstance – maybe you could comment? (cont)

  4. Even before MLC, my h's personality was such that it was nearly impossible for him to admit a mistake. I'm not only one who has commented on that. I could probably count on one hand the I'm sorries that I have heard. He also is a grudge-holder.
    I believe when he came home he had an extremely hard time facing people because it was as if he were saying" I made a mistake!" I even remember commenting to him once that I honestly didn't care what he told people if he ever felt the need to explain why he came back – tried to make it easier for him (mistake?) But he knew that I felt it was a wrong choice but that I was happy that he recognized that and that we could work together to make things better than before. I said we both had made mistakes in our marriage and this opened both of our eyes….. didn't matter though. (cont on more time!)

  5. Living in another state now is probably easy – none of his new friends (except for the alienator) ever even laid eyes on me! Do you have any experience with personalities like this or any suggestions that could put a positive twist on this? Anything Ishould or shouldn't say?

    • "Do you have any experience with personalities like this or any suggestions that could put a positive twist on this?"

      You mean with MLCer's being stubborn? Um, yeah, that's pretty much the norm. All LBSs think there MLC is more stubborn the the other MLCers and that those other LBSs just don't get it when they say he's stubborn because she really means it. Most don't want to admit their mistakes and that is a barrier they must overcome to return. Not all are that way, but most are. Sweetheart was always a good apologizer–sometimes too good because he holds blame.

      What I do recommend is that you post on your thread. That way you will get more readers, more feedback and you won't have to keep splitting up your responses.
      My recent post Stop Calling Her a Mistress!

  6. we r divorced now for 3wks. He is very friendly and have very nice normal conversations as if we are just best friends. He phones my daughter who was his worst enemy and wants to visit on Sunday again to show his new car. He promised to buy me a new base set as my mattress is not too comfy anymore. He feels rejected if he calls and my daughter cannot always take his calls as she has a demanding joc which take a lot of her time. I may not have my husband at home, but i am the one that is being spoilt all the time. I am not too sure if this is just a guilty conscience or whether God is changing his mindset. My husband knows that i am a stander, and that makes him very comfortable, he is in the bad position at work that alienator is his manager,

    • where wuld you say is he at this stage he spends most of his time at the local pub and yet he would buy new cars on her name as he is over extended with the two bond accounts on his name he is very derogatory to her ethnic group and he does not like her 28yr daughter the 17yr old just had a neonate and that makes him criticise their race even more yet he is stil with her and told me 3wks ago that his preferances changed, if you prefer a woman of another ethnic group should you not accept their culture and friends. I am confused witi these two.

      • He is still in Escape & Avoid–as a high-energy Replayer.
        This not really liking or respecting the alienator is not uncommon. But he feels she is what he is worthy of right now.

        • he took my daughter and i for a spin in his new car then took us for breafast. He then spent some time with us and left at 14h00 to go and watch the rugby match at a pub close to them. Almost certain that ow
          would be there as well becoz according to my daughter they go there regularly on weekends. He did not arrive empty handed, and we were spoilt again, he is bringing his other vehicle in on tuesday for a service and asked me to fetch him as he wants to spend time with his dogs,

  7. my mlcer came 2 visit 2day. He is a no nonsense quick tempered man. I noticed that he has been attacked from behind and has head injuries. Why would he allow someone to abuse him like that. Jobs r rare and he can only work for metro where she is a line manager, but stil i do not vnderstand why he stays in the relationship. My heart is bleeding for my man. He hates his job but has to do it for an income. I wish i could tel him to walk out of the noxious relationship and come home. I make him feel very at home when he visits and ask him 2 do the things he used to when he was head of the family. Today i had a fire going and asked him to braai the sausage, which he did while i was preparing the rolls, when wil this nightmare end, how lons is she going 2 manipulate him, God look down and save him out of this horrendous situatiö

  8. Pingback: No Contact: Clearing Up the Confusion - Love AnyWay

  9. Hello,
    I've been in it for six months. Within the last month I have had some revelations that have sent me spiraling. Oct. Eight saw a meet up profile which included along with other interests, dating 30-50, dating /relationships…
    Next was coming upon a receipt dated October 17 from a major department store near to where he is living, where he purchased two chemises, one pantsuit, and a faux fur jacket. This was time stamped 9:37 p.m.
    After that I came upon a multiple pack of sample Viagra.

    I am the distancer in the prev. Relationship/marriage. When I came upon the receipt and Viagra, it was during the last few days of us actually connecting some. Alone together not discussing anything heavy, just enjoying time together. I'm spiraling now and cannot detach. He will be around more due to the hunting season, do I confront or let it go? It is getting close to the holiday season and I'm at a loss of what to do. It IS tearing me apart. He also touch and goes…we've been together 33 years.
    Also where may I get specifics on HOW to detach, not what detachment is? thanks

  10. It is six years and still with alienator. Very limited contact with us. Name of alienator tattooed on his arm. He is contend with his new lifestyle free of family encumbrances. If I discuss any problem with him, he tells me that it is our problems to sort out he is no longer here etc. There is no change. This is what he wants. If in six years he could not come to his senses ! Then there is not much hope.

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