Most pursuers live with an inner experience of compelling inner need towards their partner. Commonly, in their pursuing they seek emotional response and rapport. Not uncommonly, they are partnered with someone who is not connected-up with their need for empathic response from their partner. These individuals can, in fact, be very attached, but have difficulty speaking from their heart to their partner. It is this difference that is at the core of the marriage-of-opposites.
This is the simplest picture, but things can be more complicated than this. Some pursuers have “burned out” with disappointment in their partner’s response to them and have become closed to their own longing to reach for the other. These shut-down pursuers can become detached and withdrawn from their less emotionally wired partner. Sometimes, at first glance at the beginning of therapy, a couple can look like a detached-detached marriage, and only after time does it become obvious that one is, in fact, a pursuer underneath the shutdown.
Likewise, emotional avoiders generally not in touch with their own vulnerability, can become overwhelmed with vulnerability when things in real outer world have gone awry… leaving them feeling painfully anxious about failure in their outer world. For avoiders, the experience of the anxiety is typically more about the fear of not being on top of things in their real life, in contrast to pursuers whose anxiety is generally about the presence or absence of heartfelt contact with their partner. What avoiders do seek from their partner, however, and it is typically highly important to them… is a sense that their partner deeply appreciates them for what they have done and accomplished.