A significant feature of this communication issue in the relationship is when a man stops talking. Many men remain silent for too long and this greatly contributes towards the relationship suffering.
Silence happens in a variety of ways. Here’s a few:
These snippets all contain a form of silent withdrawal of men. It’s part of the choreography of an intimate relationship. It’s a kind of dance move!
Relationship experts describe how partners dance in relationships! These ‘dance moves’ take the shape of actions, behaviours, verbal and non-verbal expression.
Understanding your dance move of relating is an essential ingredient of improving your relationship.
The Pursue/Withdraw is one pattern of communication adopted by one or both partners.
Here’s what happens in terms of emotions and behaviours.
Pursuers tend to cling. Withdrawers push away.
Pursuers can be demanding or nagging. Withdrawers turn away.
Pursuers can attack. Withdrawers retreat.
Pursuers may be intrusive. Withdrawers put up barriers
Pursuers can be controlling. Withdrawers can surrender.
Pursers think they’re right. Withdrawers feel they’re wrong
Pursuers lead. Withdrawers follow.
Pursuers feel helpful. Withdrawers feel helpless.
|Pursuers will often feel:
||Withdrawers will often feel:
The Pursue/Withdraw interaction keeps relationships stuck and distressed. More importantly if this dynamic gets left unchecked emotions become heightened and intense.
Men and women can take the role of pursuer or withdrawer or even both at various times.
The male brain developed accordingly with little need or capacity for talking!
At a social and psychological level the withdrawing is a protective mechanism from fear of being hurt. It’s origins lie in the emotional environment of early childhood in families, schools and broader communities.
Boys and men have been taught not to talk about their feelings and quite literally some guys struggle to find an emotional language.
If we drill further into men’s expectations today, we can see how debilitating the withdrawing role becomes.
Warning! Some of this will sound illogical!
It’s that old chestnut that emotions are not manly and heaven forbid, if a man were to expose his feelings, he may be seen as a wuss.
The silence is an attempt to resolve the fear of being exposed as not being manly enough.
For some blokes talking out their unhappiness, stress, anxieties, dissatisfaction, or other negative feelings make them irritable. They feel frustrated or angry at having these feelings in the first place. Remember, men don’t do feelings!
Many guys have trouble with anger. They are fearful of disrespecting and hurting the person they love.
Silence is an attempt to protect them, and their partner from causing more damage. Yes, it’s not logical, it’s emotional!
Many guys hate failing and feeling inadequate. They often don’t have the speed of words to compete with their partner in a conflict. Men’s emotional processing capacity is often much slower than their partner.
Whilst being silent is a sign of a man’s need to process it is also a way to avoid the feelings of defeat.
Lot’s of guys pay so much attention to their partner’s happiness that when there is conflict or their partner is unhappy it affects their mood negatively.
Silence seems to shield men from openly feeling disapproval and disappointment in themselves (and from their partner) that they can’t please their partner.
Men can be silent when they’re angry, happy, fearful, or sad! It’s confusing for everyone.
Partners, mainly women, experience huge concern, confusion and anxiety when they experience the silence and withdrawal of their partner.
They are often left:
Silence in men is usually an attempt, if a clumsy one, to solve problems in their relationship.