For Replayers the alienator and a high-level of in-fatuation drive the energy up. Most other MLCers want that; it’s more fun to be up than down. But some fail at Replay. They may try; they try to party, try to have an affair, but maybe they don’t find a willing alienator, they don’t hit in-fatuation, or other factors prevent their energy from increasing or cause it to decrease instead. But most MLCers will attempt Replay and thus in the early days after bomb drop the spouse may observe Replay behaviors that last up to 6 months and then crash or decline gradually, but steadily into a low-level depressive funk. This does not mean the MLCer is leaving Escape & Avoid!

Wallowers display more overt depression, though some may still mask their depression and seethe with rage just beneath the surface and for others they may be high-energy in everything but their relationships, they may start or maintain athletics and frenzied workaholism. Instead of getting space with geographic distance, they withdraw inward which enables them to disconnect emotionally. The avoid affection or any meaningful emotional communication—even while living at home. Athletics and work may be alternative means of escape.

As with so many things, this is still a continuum, where some are very high, some are medium, some are in the middle and some are very low. But as far as classifying the type of Escape & Avoid, an MLCer cannot be mixed. MLCers cycle; their behavior is already mixed. Replayers will have blue periods and Wallowers will have highs or attempts at highs.

Some of his replay antics seem to be high energy in spurts, like buying on impulse, partying for short periods—two or three days running and then nothing.
Replay means do-over, but it’s not only Replayers who are seeking a do-over. Both types may be obsessed with their past. Replayers are more active, they live the dream, whereas Wallowers may fantasize and live the dream through social media or other less active and direct outlets. That doesn’t mean they don’t party and booze it up, but they do it less than Replayers.

He said he’s staying; he realizes he can’t give up everything, but he still doesn’t feel anything for me. He feels stuck. He can’t abandon his family and he feels that he can’t break his vows. He wants to stay in the marriage without working for it.
This sort of verbalization is common for MLCers, but Wallowers are the most inactive—they follow through and do not ever leave or until a few years after bomb drop. Many feel bound by duty and some will put timelines on their remaining time at home; they will leave when the youngest graduates or when they or their spouse completes an education that is in process.

Living Arrangements
He moved out but comes over nearly every day and will sleep at home for weeks or even months at a time with no interruption, but then he cycles back to missing a few days here and there. The longest we did not see each other in four years was 11 days.
Wallowers are more likely to continue living at home than other MLCers. Those who do move out may wait a few years or instead they move in with family—usually their parents—or they live alone. It is common for Replayers to live with the alienator; this is more rare for a Wallower. Many live-in Wallowers will move to a separate room or the basement if available and they may have little to no interaction with the anyone in the household.

The Fantasy Alienator
Though an alienator is usually another person alienating the MLCer emotionally and sexually, it can be something else entirely. One of the villain’s in an LBSs MLC story is the alienator, but that villain of a story can be the iceberg that hits the ship, a storm, political movement, disease, career or a fantasy person or life. Wallowers may have a variety fantasy alienators.

  • Media Personality
  • TV, Book or Movie Character
  • Facebook Friend or Acquaintance
    This might be someone who is not reciprocating or only reciprocating platonically; the person might be a friend or even love-interest from the past.
    This person may be geographically unavailable.
  • Crush
    Someone from work, church, the circle of friends, neighborhood…who may or may not realize the MLCer’s interests, but does not reciprocate romantic interest.

Attributes of Low-Energy MLCers

  • Fantasy Affair
  • Emotional Affair
  • Workaholic
    Work may become an alienator
  • Overt Depression
  • Less Monster
  • Crisis may seem milder
  • Suppressed anger and rage
  • Move out of the marriage bedroom

Less likely than High Energy MLCers to…

  • Have a physical affair
  • (If a physical affair) Have an Affair Down
  • (If a physical affair) Have in-fatuation addiction or an emotionally-bonded affair
  • Leave home soon after bomb drop
    Many will eventually leave, but not for a few years.
  • Be a Clinging Boomerang
    Clinging Boomerangs maintain an emotional attachment and connection to their spouse, Wallowers withdraw emotionally.

Comments

Low-Energy: Wallow, Life’s Pity Party19 Comments

  1. This article is excellent and I approve of it, the new term for Low Energy works very well.
    Great work as usual.

    Rebecca I would say the best way is very patiently.
    Get on living your life, and let them live theirs.
    They do seem to follow their own script and RCR has described it very well.

  2. I also think this article is excellent,when I read about other MLCers having affairs,spending,drinking mine does none of those things,he had his sports car,changed his appearence, drunk lots before bomb drop and moved out immediately but does nothing now he has gone. He is totally disconnected emotionally,shows no affection,if there is emotion in any communications he completely ignores it. He has moved in with his mother and brother,but hardly ever interacts with them. He would mention a woman at work a lot,I don't believe she is interested in him so I guess that is his fantasy affair. Work is definitely an escape he works 15 hours a sometimes 7 days a week so he does not have time to think. He is obsessed with his past in terms of his not so happy childhood,his father died 2 years ago I think he is now back there looking for the acceptance he never had when he was younger from his mother before anything happens to her. I was slightly confused about him not showing the common replay behaviours,but reading this I guess he is a wallower emotionally withdrawn,no tears no anger nothing,the only thing he is doing is pushing to sort finances and get divorced. This has helped me to understand better thanks.

  3. Lynne you just described my husband as well. he is having an EA with an old girlfriend but she lives in Ireland. He has been getting angrier now, 9 monthes after bomb drop.

  4. This could not be more descriptive of my H. He was definitely low energy since BD 1/09. He didn't actually leave until 4/11. He has had a fantasy of an eclectic OW….one that represents several areas of his desires. There does seem to be a "buddy" that he has kept in only an athletic circle. He is a major workaholic, volunteering for every possible extra task and trains for many athletic events.

  5. This article described my w to a t. My concern is about the part of leaving after a couple of years. Do most eventually leave? Is the process longer or shorter than a high energy mlcer? As much as it described my spouse, it left me with just as many questions.

    • Do most eventually leave?
      Some will–think of Still\’s MLCer; but will many or even most…I don\’t know. Will most female Wallowers stay home without leaving and males eventually leave–or vice versa? I don\’t know. I do think that there are more female Wallowers than male–or maybe women are a bit more likely to be Wallowers. But we might not see that on the forum since there are more female LBSs at the forum.

      Is the process longer or shorter than a high energy MLCer?
      Though each situation is unique, I do think that in general it probably takes longer for Wallowers. I did add a piece about this…but I see it\’s not in this article, it\’s part of the series, but followed the sections on the specific types since it talks about all of Escape & Avoid. I will update the main site in the next few days—along with the article at the Store.

      …it left me with just as many questions.
      Yeah, I bet! With overt depression it\’s harder to see the directionality–for both the LBS and MLCer since the depression itself–rather than the adrenaline rush of avoidance–may be masking what the core person wants.
      Replayers may anger us and try to incite us, but they also communicate a lot of information. Their behavior may be so over-the-top absurd that it actually seem hopeful—since they are clearly insane (in our view). They are running so hard and fast that it seems a crash will be inevitable. They cycle and so sometimes we see more confusion regarding affection and we can see their fears.
      More action (higher energy) corresponds with more communication—or at least communication we can have more skill at interpreting.

      • Hi RCR, in our chat a few months ago you suggested my spouse was a low energy wallower. I agree. her affairs are all private now, she even came with the family on a holiday at xmas. i wanted to know if she is still in replay while she is on dating sites? i assume yes. she seems to be angry underneath the calm facade. she snaps from time to time. We are spending a lot more time together but its not on the basis that we are working on anything or that she seems interested in working that way. Its almost like an observer who occasionally expresses her distaste in what she sees. so i gather she is nowhere near coming out of the tunnel? what if she continues in these fantasy worlds indefinitely? We have an opportunity to sell some land that she could use to buy a house for herself but she says she doesnt want to sell. the price seems irrelevant. she doesnt seem keen to fully separate. I am wondering if i present her with signed divorce papers whether she will not sign them and hence reveal that she really doesnt want to do this? will this be pushing her unfairly or nudging her more quickly to where she will probably go over a long time?
        I feel she is holding me at arms length while she searches for a man and is thinking that if she doesnt find someone she will come back to me.
        your thoughts?

  6. "Still" here. This is most definitely my situation. H left after 2 years and 3 months of saying he would. He has been gone a little over a year. He seems solid in his decision, with no communicated regrets. The time before he left was more painful than after he moved. I was a complete non-entity in the home. I was wallpaper that cooked and cleaned. He stopped speaking to me, unless it was absolutely necessary. For him, I think he had to leave. He believes he saved himself…for now.

  7. This also describes my H to a T, right down to when he said he is staying because he could not break his vows, leave his family, especially our daughter. Bomb drop in June 2010, still a home. EA on and off for two years with geographically unavailable OW (6000 miles away) but obsessive, always calling and texting, some degree of reciprocation but OW also says she can't be with him due to religious beliefs, etc. but won't let go.

    The "stuck" dialogue always comes up, but when I try to suggest separation he always vacillates, tries to throw it back to me, says its my decision, or that he can't leave because I will be bitter, or fight the D, or what not.

  8. Continuation of above: My H has admitted to witholding emotions because he is afraid I will just expect more and hope. He feels miserable that he is hurting me, but cannot stop doing so. Can he be helped by MC or IC? I am so tired of this, I love my H but feel so miserable and actually have been thinking of telling him that we have till our D graduates from HS then we go our separate ways, just to get hi out of the stuck mode. I also just want his obsession with the OW to stop as I feel all his emotions are directed at her.

  9. Pingback: Too Young for a Midlife Crisis? - Love AnyWay

  10. Omg reading about my mid life Wallower just frightened me! He communicates, tells me sometimes how he’s feeling and kisses me every time he leaves. It’s been almost 2 years & now I’m reading it could B longer or most likely he will leave? He is a workaholic but seems very honest. Probably has a fantasy relationship still sleeps in our garage every night but pays bills & acts as if he’s ok. I Was ok thing of his progress from two years ago. Now afraid he will just up & leave.

    • Wow! I definitely think my H falls in the Wallower description. It seems very close. Trying to figure out what to expect from here. I'm like Connie…Do they just procrastinate on leaving and finally making a decision or do they more likely not leave or stay in the marriage ???

  11. I have a question. I definitely have a wallower. Like others who have commented on this artcle, this describes my MLCer perfectly. So my question is, what is the best way to handle them? Mine has been threatening to leave for the last 8 months but still has not. Sometimes I should just tell him to leave but up to this point I have taken the stance that it needs to be 100% his decision. Can I help move this along faster by asking him to leave?

  12. I have a clinging wallower. Had emotional affair for 3 months, then consumated with OW only 2x. Then in about 3 months, it was completely over and done with. That was 3 years ago. Besides a few short term (2 days through 2 weeks) retreats to his parents house in another state, he has lived at home cycling and depressed the entire time. At one point he even rented an apartment a few blocks away from our house for 6 months, but never even furnished it or used it. He has filed 3x in monster, but never served me papers. Twice he let them run out, once he disconinued them at my request. He does travel a lot for work, which I believe has allowed him MLC space as well as providing an Escape and Avoid treadmill for not dealing with his life. Even when traveling, he consisitently calls, emails, or texts at least once a day, sometimes more and closes every conversation with I love you.

    Well, 4 month ago he decided to leave abruptly and move to his parents vacation home in another state. Some relief on my part, as he was so all over the place. I have tried to follow and read all there is on MLC to help me with fairly good results (thanks RCR). Focusing on myself is main goal, right now. Since he left, he has still contacted me pretty much every day, although still extremely depressed. He came back for two weeks to take care of me during and after a scheduled surgery. (Was extremely emotional and took care of me like an angel.) AT the vacation house, sometimes his parents visit and stay with him for a week at a time. They are a bit clueless to everything and fall for his MLC rationality.

    He wanted to come home to visit for our anniversary at the 3 month mark, for a week. The visit went fairly well. He even agreed to go with me to my counselor (her idea) who I had started seeing to help me focuson myself. She wanted to meet him to see how it could help me, not be a marriage counseling session. Anyway, he was very open, said he felt good afterwards. Told counselor he felt like the idea of staying in marriage on a scale of one to ten- was a seven. I was surprised it was so high, as I have been on the downswing of preparing myself for the worst.

    Anyway, basically goes back to his vacation house, tells me it doesn't feel right to be apart and he is going to come home soon. I press him for an idea of "around when," so I can plan ahead. Mistake 1. I also press him to get rid of the lawyer. Mistake 2. And I press him to go see his own counselor. Mistake 3. Two days before the "supposed date," he emails me tells me its over, blah blah blah, and that he is sending me a letter from his lawyer requesting mediation, but not filing becuase it doesnt seem right. I called him and said obviously he is triggering from pressure and requested we both take a time out to regroup. He agrees, whatever that means. As far as I know the letter is still on its way, although legally it means nothing. Meanwhile during the call, he tells me I should be positive that he answered the phone. Wow.

    Note: my MLC couldn't handle the pressure of even committing to committing. Just another touch and go.

    This story, is just to point out to those at the beggining of MLC, just how slow this process is. I realize everyday, as someone going through it for 2 1/2 years after the initial affair ended – it's so easy to get ahead of ourselves with hope, and it really is about having patience of a saint and trying to have a sense of humor doesn't hurt.

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