Men, on the other hand, have been taught to suppress emotional responses and needs, and also to be problem solvers, which sets them up in the withdraw role.
If I appeal to you for emotional connection and you respond intellectually to a problem, rather than directly to me, on an attachment level, I will experience that as "no response."
This is one of the reasons that the research on social support uniformly states that people want "indirect" support, or, emotional confirmation and caring from their partners, rather than advice.
Often men say that they do not know how to respond on an emotional level. But they do!
Men do it when they feel safe, most often with their children. The tragedy here is that a man may be doing his best to answer his wife's concerns by offering advice and solutions, not understanding that what she is really seeking from him is emotional engagement.
His engagement is the solution for her.
The most destructive belief is the belief that a healthy, mature adult is not supposed to need emotional connection and so is not entitled to this kind of caring.
Clients tell me, "I just cannot just tell him that I am feeling small and need his arms around me. I am not a kid," or "I have never asked for that. I don't feel entitled. I shouldn't need that."
If we cannot name and accept our own attachment needs,
sending clear messages to others when those needs are"hot" is impossible.
Ambiguous messages are what keep us stuck.
As partners in a relationship we find that it is so much easier to say, "Why aren't you more talkative? Don't you have anything to say to me?" than to open up and ask that our need for loving connect be met which is vulnerable.
Often times partner admit, "When I feel irrelevant, I criticize back. He rolls his eyes, his tone then becomes contemptuous and I realize my responses don't matter to him. So I criticize him more and he retreats. We are off, and the destructive music plays on!"
Rather they could find an easy answer. Pausing and thinking about the pattern of the dance and
the music playing, "Wait a minute, what is happening here? We are getting caught up in a silly fight and
we are both getting hurt."
This is the first step in stopping the pattern of that destructive dance.
Recognize the music. Change the dance steps.