Anna knows she’s been successful in making Levin fall in love with her, as she’s been successful with every young man she’s come into contact with lately. The only man who does not seem swayed by her charms is Vronsky, who grows colder and colder to her. She is in a state of suspense: all she can do is wait to hear from Karenin.
Anna desperately tries to regain both her own self-esteem and to make Vronsky notice her by making all the men around her fall in love with her, but this does not work: the more and more attractive she becomes to the rest of the world, the more and more repulsive she becomes, like a magnet that works one way on everyone else but the other on Vronsky.
When Vronsky returns, Anna does not want to fight with him, but she inevitably enters into a quarrel about him staying at the club rather than coming home. She claims to be at the brink of disaster at any moment, which immediately makes Vronsky bow to her command, but Anna realizes that she can never use this weapon a second time, and that their relationship is defined not by love anymore but by strife.
Though Anna and Vronsky’s relationship has fallen into a toxic pattern of constant quarrels, and though Anna must act as though she is constantly on the edge of a nervous breakdown to keep Vronsky by her side, neither one of them can break the pattern, and they stay locked in this noxious spiral. Note the contrast between Anna and Vronsky and Levin and Kitty—where Levin and Kitty talk through their issues, Anna and Vronsky’s relationship is founded on silence and lies.