"...emotional tug of war..." ~ You, Me, Life, Dreams ~
This is something that comes up particularly when we get into the abuser pattern in relationships. This pattern can come up in some of the most unsuspecting places; and even in people that we wouldn't openly think of as abusers or being in that pattern, mostly because they themselves may have sustained a great amount of abuse earlier in life.
The abuser is in need of control; and this is often out of insecurity. Interestingly, we often find those that have been adopted in this pattern playing an emotional tug of war as adults. This usually is arising out of a fear of being hurt, abandoned, and unworthy of being loved. Yes, where we have fears of being hurt; it is easy to run emotionally hot and cold, and thus place us in the abuser pattern without even being aware of it.
When this aspect is present and these fears are at play in a relationship; we find that there are usually subconscious programs that tell the person to hurt before they get hurt. This creates conflict with the conscious parts of the mind that want to know a loving relationship. Now they are in their own ping pong game, bouncing back and forth between loving and being strong into their relationship and pulling away into an abyss of emotional withdrawal and distance.
For the partner that is trying to be with this person there can be a great amount of frustration since they never know when they will have closeness or isolation. A big part of being with someone in this pattern (should you choose to see this through), is to realize that the pulling away is not personal but fears that are being triggered. It takes great patience and compassion, and lots of communication to bridge this swinging pattern into a balance.
The partner must be strong enough to communicate and help the person in this pattern become aware of what is going on, as well as create a space of safety for them to express their emotions in healthy ways. Now, I am not condoning remaining in an abusive relationship. However, it is important to identify some of the means behind the pattern; since the person in this aspect of the pattern may sincerely want to work through things and build the loving relationship desired.