The On-again, Off again Relationship

Anyone who has been in a relationship with an on-again, off-again love knows how much frustration this can create for the person whose only goal has been to be there unconditionally and unwaveringly. It can be very hard on the self-esteem or leave a person wondering what is going on with their partner to make them behave this way. It also creates a situation where it is hard to get closure and move on. Confusion can occur when the mind starts wondering if a break-up really means things are over or if there is hope enough that one should hang in.

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The first thing people want to understand when dealing with a seductive withholder (SW) is: “Why do they back away when they just end up coming around again?” There can be different reasons depending upon the type of SW you are dealing with.

Seductive Withholders is a phrase coined by Susan Peabody, author of “Addiction to Unrequited Love”: Overcoming Obsession and Dependency in Relationships. According to Susan, seductive withholders are a form of love addiction that falls under a specific category of “ambivalent love addict.” These types of love addicts crave intimacy but fear it at the same time. They engage in various forms of behavior to avoid closeness in a relationship. Four types of ambivalent love addicts include: unrequited love addicts, romance addicts, saboteurs, and seductive withholders.

Seductive withholders are similar to saboteurs, except that while a saboteur will sabotage a relationship and never look back, the SWs will come back around in a way that creates an on-again, off-again pattern. In other words, SWs are individuals who swing back and forth between offering a relationship, love, affection, sex, or commitment and then withdrawing it.

According to Susan Peabody there are two different kinds of seductive withholders: narcissistic and fear-based. In my work as a psychic, I recognize two more kinds: the “fixer upper” and the “ex-in-the-picture.” So, how can you recognize each of these kinds of SW’s?

Narcissistic Seductive Withholders
If you think you are with a narcissistic SW then I have one suggestion: run away as fast as you can in the opposite direction! Sometimes these types of SW are very charming and come on fast and strong. They tend to be less in love with you as themselves and the high they get off of seducing women and playing with their emotions. You can recognize them because when they get bored or preoccupied, you might find that all of a sudden they seem less interested in you or drop from the picture. However, as soon as you have given up the chase and decide to move on, you might find they suddenly pop up acting like nothing happened and turning on their seductive charm again. Don’t be deceived by their motivation, however. Their intention is to see if they can seduce you again and again. They may be getting an emotional high off of toying with your emotions.

You can usually recognize them because they have some of the characteristics of people with Narcissistic Personality Disorder: e.g., lack of empathy for your needs and feelings; manipulativeness; dishonesty; sense of entitlement; fixation on ideal love, wealth, intelligence, or beauty; etc. Instead of waiting for them to change, learn what you can about being in a relationship with a narcissist so that you know what to expect.

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The fear-based SW has developed a pattern of approaching and retreating as a way to cope with fear of getting hurt or rejected. These SW’s are often very empathic and/or sensitive individuals who may feel too much or have been hurt by a bad divorce, betrayal, rejection, trauma, or something else that left them afraid to get truly close. You can tell the narcissist apart from the fear-based SW because the narcissist creates a false personal of confidence, entitlement, and security, where the fear-based SW seems less confident.

When the fear-based SW withdraws, it is not because they got bored, but because they got overwhelmed. While men who fall into this category may back away more quietly, women may be more vocal and dramatic (even though they will come back around later wanting to try again). Sometimes, fear-based SW reacts the way they do because they are in relationships with people they feel a lot of chemistry for but they know the person is not good for them. They need to be careful not to fall for other types of ambivalent love addicts who make them feel insecure.

The Fixer-Upper Seductive Withholders
The fixer-up SW attempts to use withdrawing from a relationship as a way to punish their partner or to get what they want in a relationship. Unless the SW is highly manipulative, backing away usually results from a build-up of frustration. Sometimes, the male fixer-upper might do this to get their partner to back off from confronting them about issues with the relationship. Some do not know how to deal with their partners emotions (jealousy, need for security, need to talk, etc.). They usually just need to be left alone for a while or to come out from hiding when they are ready.

For female fixer-uppers, the frustration may have to do with not feeling heard, validated, or knowing where they stand in terms of a commitment. Alternatively, they might be attempting to change or cope with a partner’s narcissistic, abusive, or unfaithful behavior. They might go into withdrawal mode hoping their partner will feel threatened by the withdrawal of affection, sex, or relationship enough to change or offer reassurance. You can usually tell these types because they want to know, “When will things change?”

Because many of these types of SWs haven’t dealt with their own codependent patterns, they usually end up in seducer mode again when they realize that their withdrawing tactics did not have an effect. They usually go back out of a need for love and approval or a fear of being alone.

The Ex-In-The-Picture Seductive Withholder
This type of SW is not to be confused with the romance addict, Casanova, or narcissistic SW who may seduce and withdraw from multiple women at the same time. Instead, this type of SW bounces back and forth between a current and past love relationship, unable to truly form a full bodied commitment with either. Sometimes, this is just a way to avoid commitment. Other times, the SW runs from one love interest to the other whenever there is an argument or difficulty. Still other times, this kind of SW has never been able to fully get over their ex or there are children involved.

Usually, this SW presents as confused. They may not really know what to do or who to choose. They seem to float or overly influenced by the opinions of family or others as to what to do. Other times, this type of SW may have been negatively affected by being in a relationship with an SW ex. The power that an SW can have over a love interest is quite powerful and addictive. It leaves the person who is seduced and abandoned lacking closure and always hoping that they can work a relationship out (to heal the damage to their self-esteem that arises out of being abandoned over and over by the same person).

What To Do If You Are With A Seductive Withholder

If you tend to attract SWs as partners, there might be a lesson for you to learn that involves more than just being patient and hoping that your partner can mature or come around. Sometimes being with an SW can leave a person feeling they are walking on eggshells. You may be afraid to do, confront, or say things in case this drives your SW away. But try to be open and honest anyways. Codependent individuals tend to be the types who will walk on eggshells or tolerate behavior that should not have to be tolerated. Not that you should not have compassion for your SW partner, but if they aren’t willing to work on the behavior, make sure you don’t get left doing all the work yourself; trying to hold things together. Learn about codependency so you can find ways to detach, distract yourself, and/or to keep healthy boundaries during your partners coming and goings.

If you want a psychic reading on your love relationship or love interest to see if any of this applies to your situation, feel free to call me for a reading.

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Have a question about your relationship? Need to make a decision whether it is worth your time to hang in or to seek closure? Need to know if there will be a reconnection? Mandy is an empathic love reader who specializes in the emotional psychodynamics within a relationship.

2 thoughts on “The On-again, Off again Relationship

  1. John

    Great article Mandy! I am the Codependent Love Addict and I seem to always find the Love Avoidant Seductive Withholders. I think it is my own low self esteem. At the beginning of the relationship when the Love Avoidant is in full Seduction mode and they are idolizing me I finally feel alive, like I am now a real person…..But then comes the avoiding and I fall from the heavens……and then when they come back around I am back on the high. I really need to work on my self esteem and happiness and stop blaming other people and start taking full responsibility for my own happiness. If someone has past wounds that causes them to be hot and cold then I will not be hooked by them or stick around trying to fix them, instead I will move on. Thank you again Mandy, always good reading your articles. Sounds like you have been there yourself.


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