Looking for Patterns Can Save Your Relationship – Part 3 “Freeze or Flee”

freeze of flee couple
“Freeze and Flee” is the last “Demon Dialogue” or pattern that Sue Johnson explains it in her book “Hold Me Tight: Seven Conversations for a Lifetime of Love.” This pattern is the most dangerous of all because couples stuck in this pattern show “deadly silence.” Nobody is no longer fighting and no one seems to be invested anymore.

However, the couple and I can both feel the tension in the room. Both of the partners are hurting, but they are working hard on suppressing their emotions—even though they “seep out of every pore.” They are in self-protection mode, acting as if they didn’t care, or as if they didn’t need anything and anyone.

What is important to remember about this pattern is that it evolved from Protest Polka to Freeze and Flee. In the Protest Polka pattern, the pursuing or critical partner who was trying to get the spouse’s attention gives up and becomes silent. The pursuing partners exhausted their resources and they start grieving their relationship, detaching, and then leaving. The withdrawing partners, on the other hand, are trying to avoid any “hot emotions,” and, therefore they flee into distracting activities or simply staying logical and cool, calm, and composed.

Couples in that stage can often be polite with each other, and they can even cooperate around pragmatic issues, but if this pattern is not stopped, their love relationship will end.

As with the other two patterns, couples in this one have to see how they locked themselves in this cycle before they can change it. As they start revealing more and more feelings to each other, they also are gaining more hope for their relationship.
They are talking again instead of staying silent.
They are learning that they both get hurt and scared, and they end up shutting each other out.
Finally, they are discovering that this is just a pattern that they got used to, and they are capable to create a new, safer, and more fulfilling one.
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