In relationships, we typically see “minimizer” and a “maximizer” roles or behaviors. Minimizers are compared to turtles, ducking into their shell when they sense trouble or conflict. Maximizers… well, they’ve been compared to hailstorms. Or Tigger in an angry mood. Very overwhelming to a minimizer, indeed. Maximizers are the ones who insist that you come out of that shell and talk about it right now; it usually sounds like “why won’t you ever TALK to me”? And when a maximizer says that, the minimizer say something like “I don’t know” and installs bolts and locks on the shell closure because that is the only safe place and it needs to stay safe, which, in turn, drives the maximizer nuts.
So the more the maximizer maximizes, the more the minimizer minimizes and the more the minimizer minimizes the more the maximizer maximizes! How minimizers and maximers find each other is still a great mystery to me, but it happens with uncanny predictability.
The *growth edge* in all of this, M&M’s, is once you figure out and own this defensive behavior, try doing less of it. So minimizers, your job is to show up more and be willing to talk about your feelings. Maximizers, your job is to… well, be quiet and calm and listen more. And oddly enough, when you’re quiet and calm and listening, your partner will open up, but only if it’s safe. So no pouncing! This is all best accomplished in the structure of the Imago Dialogue which restores the safety and connection you once felt.