Dating relationships and the demandwithdraw pattern of communication
Of all the troubling relational patterns, Demand/Withdraw is truly worthy of Haz Mat status.
Some individuals are far more likely to find themselves in this kind of conflict than others.
(The marital literature calls these “intergenerational transmission effects.”)Regardless of one’s original intention—let’s assume it was to have a quiet, reasonable, and civilized talk about a relationship—escalation is built into the DM/W pattern, and the pattern itself effectively straps each member of the couple into a reserved seat on an ever-spinning merry-go-round. As they hypothesized, it was “marital topics”—such as intimacy, communication, commitment, habits and personality—that triggered the demand-withdraw pattern and .) That said, the presence of the pattern in the couples’ interactions lowered their overall ability to resolve conflict constructively.
Withdrawal is likely to spark an increase in demand—a voice that grows louder with every moment of frustration at not being heard which eventually devolves into what marital expert John Gottman calls “kitchen-sinking,” a catalogue of every flaw your spouse possesses and a litany of every transgression and misstep—which, in turn, provokes greater withdrawal and so on. The pattern does, it would appear, poison the well. Recognizing the pattern is the first step toward extricating you and your partner from it, but it’s been noted that most couples will need a therapist’s help to try to change it once it’s been established.
There’s evidence that it’s more common if a spouse is depressed.
As to conflict, if one person wants change and the other is perfectly happy with the status quo—whether that’s the division of labor in the household, the level of intimacy and sharing, the frequency of sex or anything else—the person seeking change will make the demands.It’s not a familiar pattern in a healthy relationship, but common in one that’s already distressed.It seems to be separate from other negative behaviors, such as screaming and yelling, although it often appears with them.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.
Again, although I agree with several points, some of the wording in this article feels pathologizing and shaming - from my perspective.