The “Freedom/Closeness” Dilemma in relationships

Breaking Pointe

Breaking Pointe

My new guilty television pleasure is the program “Breaking Pointe,” a reality show about dancers in a ballet company in Salt Lake City.  They ran last year’s season on BBC America which is where I found it, and then this year’s season ran on the CW network.

One of the featured dancers, Allison, is involved in a classic push me/pull you relationship with Rex, another of the dancers.  In this kind of relationship one partner is pushing to be closer and the other one is distancing – pushing away.  However what often happens is that the roles switch and the formerly distancing partner becomes the one who wants to be closer.

In the Allison/Rex dynamic, Allison was involved with another man, Jonathan.  Then she and Rex had an affair and she broke up with Jonathan.  Rex still wanted to be with her and she pushed him away.  Then she realized Jonathan was a jerk and now she wants to be with Rex.  Now Rex is saying, not so fast – I’m not so sure I want this.

Howard Sasportas and Liz Greene coined the term the “freedom/closeness” dilemma to describe the conflict between the basic need to attach and feel safe with another human being and the need to differentiate the Self and become more comfortable as an autonomous individual.  This is a process that begins in infancy but it can become distorted and corrupted in certain family situations.  But really, those of us with this dynamic were born with a prospensity towards this conflict, and this is evident in our birthcharts.

Certain signs and planetary placements crave closeness and security, and others indicate a push for greater autonomy and freedom.  The water and earth signs tend to crave attachment and safety; the air and fire signs yearn for freedom and space.  Neptune, Venus and the Moon are connectors – Mars, Uranus and Jupiter are detachers.

Often in this kind of chart we see an individual who may be completely unaware of their need for space, who longs for connection but who habitually chooses unavailable partners.  Or they might be in long-term relationships in which intimacy is avoided as a means of finding space.  Most often we vacillate back and forth – in one relationship we are the pursuer and in the next we take the role of the pursued.   One individual with an intimacy/distance conflict will nearly always attract another with the same conflict until we understand and recognize that the conflict is actually in our own psyche.

We can see that clearly in the Allison and Rex dynamic.  Allison was unavailable, and Rex wanted to be with her.  Jonathan had moved away and then Allison wanted to be with him.  Then she realized Rex had always been there for her and Jonathan was a bit of a jerk, so she decided she loved Rex after all.  And now Rex says, “Not so fast, lady.  I’m not so sure I want this.”

Astrology’s magic lies in its ability to draw open the curtain and reveal the workings of the psyche.  Once we understand why we behave the way we do, making changes where necessary to lead a  happier and more productive life becomes easier and more rewarding.

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By | 2013-09-20T07:13:29+00:00 September 20th, 2013|Favorite posts, Relationships|16 Comments


  1. Claudia September 20, 2013 at 10:36 am

    Great insights! I watch that show too and I always thought of that relationship ‘how childish’… but I see it going on relationships around me even now (in my late 30’s). So I have a friend who this seems to ring true for me. She is Sun in Aires, Pisces Ascendant, Libra Moon and Virgo rules her 7th House. Would this indicate she has this dilemma in her nature?

    • Greg F September 20, 2013 at 12:00 pm

      That describes my girlfriend exactly, Claudia! Same Sun/Moon/Ascendant. She pursued me, disappeared for over a year, then showed up again this year. We’re still close friends, but she vanished again last month. I’ll probably see her again one day…

      • Lynn Hayes September 21, 2013 at 8:25 am

        You’ve talked about that relationship in the comments, Greg. It sounds like she also has a lot of fear from other things you’ve mentioned. Generally people with this situation attract each other, so you may also have an element of this conflict.

        • Greg F September 21, 2013 at 1:08 pm

          True. We both have abandonment issues with our parents. An interesting connection between us is asteroid Ariadne, exactly conjunct in our synastry chart. Ariadne was abandoned on an island by Theseus after leading him to the minotaur’s lair in the labyrinth. She was rescued by Dionysus afterward. My friend also suffers from PTSD and probably schizophrenia. Jupiter opposite Uranus, Mars opposite Pluto.

          • Lynn Hayes September 22, 2013 at 6:45 am

            So one of you plays the rescuer (Dionysus) and one plays the abandoned one (Ariadne). Do you alternate, or is it always you doing the rescuing? When we are wounded we gravitate towards other wounded ones because of the potential for understanding and compassion, but that is only helpful if both are working towards healing. Otherwise we can get stuck in the mythologies and unable to return to the real world in any kind of healthy way.

          • Greg F September 22, 2013 at 7:11 am

            I’m definitely the Dionysian one. Our Chiron’s are sextile each other, too, so it has been healing for me, but my friend won’t let go of her pain-body. I’ve been careful not to let it become a co-dependent relationship, though. I’m more the island she washes up on ever so often. 🙂

      • Claudia September 21, 2013 at 8:37 am

        Yes! My friend and I get very close, then she disappears for long stretches. When she comes back there was always some dramatic story.

    • Lynn Hayes September 21, 2013 at 8:24 am

      Claudia, I’m afraid that’s not really enough information to evaluate and by itself doesn’t indicate this kind of issue. Depending on when she was born and depending on the degree of her ascendant she might have Uranus in Sagittarius squaring the ascendant which would be the freedom component conflicting with the Pisces/Libra which craves connection. We would have to consider the whole chart to truly identify what’s going on there.

  2. Claudia September 21, 2013 at 8:39 am

    I’m not an expert on reading birth charts but Uranus in Sag would make sense. She’s always taking unexpected trips to foreign lands, cannot sit still.

  3. Leah September 21, 2013 at 12:05 pm

    Unfortunately, this is me. I long for a healthy relationship with an available man but must unconsiously do things to mess it up. I’m in my mid 40’s and have yet to find a really great/healthy long term relationship. It’s rather sad because I do all the work to stay attractive, successful, interesting… How do I re-wire myself?

    • Lynn Hayes September 22, 2013 at 6:43 am

      Understanding the underlying dynamics can help us with that rewiring process. An astrology reading can help to identify those dynamics most easily, but observing your behavior and feelings while you’re in a relationship can help.

  4. Greg F September 22, 2013 at 7:19 am

    Happy Equinox, Lynn! Thanks for your insightful articles and for caring!

  5. Greg F September 23, 2013 at 10:05 pm

    May I add as a coda to this very interesting article — Libra is an archetype to this dilemma. As a Sun/Moon Libra, I seek a soul mate, a Yin to my Yang, yet as a cardinal air sign there’s a a hesitance to avoid commitment so that I am not impeded by the responsibility of a relationship . My Aries/Libra girlfriend and I both want to live our lives as free individuals, yet we enjoy each other’s company immensely, on a soulmate level. I believe we have resolved this in this dawning Aquarian age. Unconditional love, yet total respect for each other’s life path.

    I was married for 17 years in a a traditional relationship, yet when I wasn’t able to be the breadwinner due to major illness, my wife deserted me. My friend and I don’t have the encumbrance of a formal marriage, yet she is more trustworthy in our open relationship than my previous ex. Despite her wanderings, this has been a good pairing overall.

  6. Becca Helen September 26, 2013 at 7:27 pm

    Anything to say about Saturday’s (sept. 28) Venus and Mars square? Venus is in Scorpio, and Mars in Leo. Seems like a big deal to me, and we have a very big family wedding that day. I’m searching my favorite astro sites in search of info.

    • Lynn Hayes September 29, 2013 at 10:55 am

      Hi Becca, I don’t generally talk about the fast moving transits like this because they come and go in a day or so. Venus/Mars squares are generally pretty benign unless they are in aspect to a more powerful planet, which in this case they are not.

  7. Carolyn H. September 29, 2013 at 3:59 am

    Good article. This reminds me of the “dance” between Love Addict and Love Avoidant that I learned about while reading self-help books, going to therapy, and going to meetings for Sex and Love Addicts Anonymous meetings back in 2009. It was a crazy time and I’m glad I finally consciously realized what was going on. It’s good to see how astrology connects to the dance, here in your article.

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