(The shorthand for this in marital studies is WD/HW, or .) Theorists have proposed that the differences in how women and men are socialized may account for the skew—in this scenario, women seek out affiliation, are more expressive, and fear abandonment while men are more autonomous and afraid of engulfment in relationships.While this may be true in some cases, this socialization argument, explored in the late 1980s and 1990s, seems to echo the cultural tropes of the times, epitomized by the enormous success of John Gray’s Other research has investigated how power and the nature of the issue at the center of the conflict contribute to this particular pattern with its two polarized roles.To borrow from gardening, Demand/Withdraw is both tenacious and invasive.On a personal note, I can’t say that the pattern is what wrecked my relationship; I see it more as a symptom of other dysfunction. Shimkowski, "A Meta-Analytical Review of the Demand/Withdraw Pattern of Interaction and its Association with Individual, Relational, and Communicative Outcomes, Actually, this toxic pattern happens with lesbian couples as well.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.I bring up the issue of socialization in the piece but then there is other evidence that the gender of the person making the demands can be variable.I don't think there's a definitive answer since while the pattern is relatively simple and easy to identify, the variables can be very different. This article is timely and accurate to my own experience.
It’s not a familiar pattern in a healthy relationship but common in one that’s already distressed." As a therapist, I see this pattern crop up in relationships that are not inherently unhealthy but where wounds have forced individuals into anxious protective patterns, which may appear different depending on attachment style.
This was true both in conflict situations and in those that required the husband to support and take care of his spouse.
Similarly, avoidantly attached husbands who perceived discussions about solving problems in marriage as potentially destructive were much more likely to withdraw and disengage.
Securely attached people who are emotionally confident, accustomed to being both loved and valued, and who believe in their own worthiness tend not to engage in the pattern.
Alas, that is not true of the avoidantly attached—individuals who, by virtue of their childhood and life experiences, are uncomfortable with intimacy and are disinclined to pursue it—especially if they are men. Barry and Erika Lawrence found that avoidantly attached husbands withdrew in direct proportion to the amount of negative affect expressed by wives in demand situations.