Dating relationships and the demand withdraw pattern of communication
You’d also have seen my partner, his arms folded across his chest, silent and unresponsive, a dismissive look on his face.
In its own unhappy-making way, this pattern of interaction is as classic as a Little Black Dress, and it has a moniker and an acronym: Demand/Withdraw or DM/W.
A lot of times couples will talk about money, kids, sex—whatever the conflict area is. ” Maybe my partner needs to know that his or her opinion is important to me, even if I disagree with it. Maybe my partner needs to know that I’m not going to get critical like I have in the past.
But underneath it’s, “I need to know that you value my opinion,” or “I need to know that you value and respect me.” Slow down and think, “Okay, what do I want here? Maybe my partner needs to know that I’m not going to go away like I have been for years.
It isn’t a new pattern, of course—the so-called “nagging” wife shows up in folklore all over the world, in many varied (and misogynistic) forms—but research shows that DM/W is a powerful predictor of marital dissatisfaction and divorce.
This book explains the basics of attachment theory and lays out very specific conversations that couples can have that help them identify their pattern, learn about the emotional raw spots that help drive the pattern, learn how to revist rocky moments, learn how to reach for each other and connect in non-threatening ways, and forgive injuries in ways that will lead to fundamental changes in the relationship.My last (failed) relationship, it turns out, is a psychological cliché, which is disheartening but at least it gives me plenty of company.