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Story: Loading the Horse — 4 Comments

  1. I find the story to be quite provocative, and begging the question, “What can one specifically do to ‘bug’ a leaving/avoiding partner?” I think clingers feel safer kind of hunkering down with their partners in connection and communication, whereas avoiders feel safer alone out in the crazy world. Maybe keep reminding them just how crazy it is to go it alone? I don’t know if that works. I’ve seen some “horses” who seem to prefer dodging the arrows and gunshots of the Wild West to what may seem to them like prison in a horse stall (even if it’s not).

    • “Tis a puzzlement!” In the Story of Loading the horse, see how much of the situation was controlled by the horse trainer. In real life with an Avoider we don’t have much control. In that situation the Avoider seems to be seeking to have control in their life and not have to give up control to their partner – as they probably have in the past. So the issue becomes one of affirming the ability of the Avoider to feel in control of their needs for space. I often think of this when I sit in a restaurant either with my back to the wall (safety) or near the door (safety to escape). When I had an office, I arranged the client chairs and my desk so that the client could escape if they felt the urge.

      Your thoughts also reminded me of how powerful an obnoxious experience can be. I heard tell of an experiment where a rat was faced with terrible electric shocking. It was placed on a small pedestal over an electrified grid. When it jumped down, if faced the full shock and eventually (!) passed out. It was put up on the pedestal to awaken. When it did awaken and took in its situation, it quietly waited for death. It never tried again. Kinda a one shot learning experience. “Hmmmm. Horses preferring arrows and gunshots to a stable it perceives as a trap, which SOMEONE ELSE thinks is not a trap.”

      Not so puzzling, methinks.

  2. Oooh, I like this. This analogy of when we are trying to attract an avoider, or at least stop them moving away. So we jump through hoops, trying to persuade them of the value of the relationship and what a lovely time they will have with us (making the inside of the horse box more attractive). When actually the world outside the horse box has its own pitfalls and difficulties (bugging), and if we leave them alone (not completely) and respond with any movement forward (a tug for contact) warmly but incrementally, they begin to enter the relationship (the horse box).

    • Good one, Lorraine. Yes, and it was this horse experience that led me to take a stand against all that “No-contact” advice online. I kept remembering the vital role of that long horse line from the inside of the trailer to the horse’s halter far outside the trailer – far enough to not distress the horse. So in my paper on When to Fold ‘Em I incorporated the idea of a miminal contact – weekly or bi-weekly four sentences of tame message. (P.S. Good lesson. My finger is still bent at 75!)

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