I know it’s been a while since I had written about the vacillator. Although I haven’t been writing about the vacillator, my stats show how this topic is the most popular visit at my blog. Since it is a popular topic, I thought my readers would benefit from me revisiting this topic every once in a while.
I have been meaning to write about the controller-vacillator relationship for a while. What encouraged me to take some time to write about it was a conversation I had with a client. Without sharing about the client’s situation for obvious reasons (to protect confidentiality), I do want to say it is an interesting dynamic. Before writing about the dynamic, it would be helpful to get to know the controller imprint (to read about the vacillator imprint, click here).
According to Yerkovich & Yerkovich (2008), the controller imprint is the result of serious problems in a child’s home. It may be the person was raised in a chaotic environment; disregarded as a child or the parent(s)/caregiver(s) saw the child too overwhelming to deal with (Yerkovich & Yerkovich, 2008). According to Yerkovich & Yerkovich (2008), the parent(s)/caregiver(s) may have struggled with mental illnesses, numerous addictions, or are absent all together. As a result, the child sees relationships as dangerous and destructing instead of safe and nurturing (Yerkovich & Yerkovich, 2008).
The child may express outrage or withdraws from the parent(s)/caregiver(s) (Yerkovich & Yerkovich, 2008). The parent(s)/caregiver(s) responds to this child with abuse or neglect and, instead of aiding to child to relieve the child’s stress, the parent(s)/caregiver(s) is a source of stress for the child (Yerkovich & Yerkovich, 2008). The child reacts to the behavior of the parent(s)/caregiver with confusion which leads to anxiety, anger, and fear and, to reduce anxiety, the child becomes a controller and the victim (i.e. parent/caregiver to a significant other) fearfully yields to keep peace (Yerkovich & Yerkovich, 2008).
When a vacillator-vacillator, controller-vacillator, or controller-controller couple meets, “there is often an immediate strong and passionate connection” (Yerkovich & Yerkovich, 2008, p. 183). Although the chemistry seems to be just right and there is intense good feelings to relief past pain, the relationship is only good as long as the idealization phase last (Yerkovich & Yerkovich, 2008). Once this phase is over, “it goes downhill with the same intensity” and it is like a “wild roller-coaster ride” with “intense fights followed by passionate reunions” (Yerkovich & Yerkovich, 2008, p. 183).
Why Intense Fights
Those that grew up in homes that were intense and/or full of anxiety, sees this as normal (Yerkovich & Yerkovich, 2008). Living in such chaos is a breathing ground for the lack of able to connect on a healthy level as well as physical and mental disabilities (i.e. learning difficulties, learning disabilities, unbalance brain chemistry) [Yerkovich & Yerkovich, 2008]. When such children become adults, they may have a real need for intensity. For example, they may feel agitated whenever it is peaceful and, therefore, creates chaos by provoking others into angry, intense, or seductive interchanges (Yerkovich & Yerkovich, 2008). Why is this? Since they have become familiar with the adrenaline rush, see this as normal, creating chaos allows them to feel this familiar rush once again (Yerkovich & Yerkovich, 2008).
The need to connect with others is what makes us human. Unfortunately, when one sees chaos as normal, this distorts the belief in the ideal process of how to connect. According to Yerkovich & Yerkovich (2008), Those that grew up in an environment of chaos learn that when two people are fighting, they are connecting. And, for some individuals, this is the only kind of connection they have ever known (Yerkovich & Yerkovich, 2008).
The Weapon of Ignoring
When the controller ignores their significant other for a long period of time (which, according to Dr. Wright , is a type of nonverbal abuse), this can trigger the following in the vacillator (Yerkovich & Yerkovich, 2008):
- Tries to read the mood of the significant other
- Left to wait for connection; governed by the significant other’s mood than the vacillator’s need
- Confused and hypervigilant in trying to predict and control the relationship
- Angry and anxious at having to wait
If the controller continues to use the weapon of ignoring the vacillator for a long period of time (due to economic hardship, desperation, depression, insecurity, jealousy, fear of abandonment, emotional immaturity, and/or poor anger management skills [Dr. Wright, 2015]), the vacillator may start to look somewhere else for an intense and consistent connection (Yerkovich & Yerkovich, 2008).
I could write more on the controller-vacillator relationship but I will stop here because this entry is getting too long. To learn more about the different love style imprints and/or relationships, please consider either reading the book How We Love by Milan and Kay Yerkovich or visit the website that is noted underneath the references below. Whatever you do, please know that there is hope. There is room for understanding and growth. Sometimes, the growth can be together (in a relationship) or it needs to be done separately (i.e. the other person doesn’t want to grow or becomes too violent that one has to separate from that individual). If you are in a crisis situation (i.e. domestic violence), please reach out for help (ex: Domestic Violence Support).
Yerkovich, M. & Yerkovich, K (2008). How we love. Colorado Springs, CO: Waterbrook Press.
Dr. H. Jean Wright (2015). Find strength in your struggle. Place of publication not identified: XULON Press.