They would like the men they love to listen to their feelings, or talk about their own, or both. They would like to do with men what they can often do with their friends: sit down face to face and open up their lives, diving into a warm and enveloping atmosphere of honest talk.
Their hopes, fears, fantasies prohibitions, angers--with the best of friends, it all comes out. And having immersed themselves to each other's lives, they both feel better.
When women try to do this with men, they are often greeted by a kind of stubborn resistance. Not only is he too preoccupied to hear her dilemmas very well--he may give her some well meaning advice, but little else--but when she asks about his feelings, he balks. Why is he so resistant?
Does he really believe that the best way to deal with his problems is to try to forget about them, or to think about them while he works at his work bench or at his computer?
Women who encounter this resistance to verbal intimacy in men are usually puzzled at first, then hurt, and finally enraged. Along the way, their almost helplessness exacerbates the problem.
As soon as they see the problems their partners are having dealing with their feelings, many women try to teach their ideas about communication. "It's simple," they say in many different ways, "all you have to do is sit down, face each other, and say what you feel." They believe they set the stage properly, and assume with a little encouragement, their partners will respond.
When their partners balk, many women try a little harder. They explain in more detail, they apply more pressure. "Surely if I can do this, he can too." Scheming to create ideal conditions, then plan their words carefully they may even leave books on communication in conspicuous places.
When a man's wife begins a systemic campaign to teach him about his feeling, he smells a trap! The words she uses, the stance she takes, the pressure she applies--all identify her to his unconscious mind as a member of the older generation. He may not be able to give words to his fears, but alarm bells sound, they signal mother! And so he resists.
The forces that cast men and women in these tragically antagonistic roles are not produced entirely by social norms. While it is true that from an early age males in our culture are discouraged from revealing their vulnerability, and that females are encouraged to be emotionally open and disclosing, certain dynamics of the childhood family also contribute powerfully to these dilemmas.
The pursuer, the woman described above, is enthusiastic about emotional closeness, and talks about wanting emotional closeness. This woman is forever strategizing to achieve this goal. In addition to desiring closeness she also fears rejection.
Because her efforts have been met with disappointment her anxious,. irritable approach to her partner partly engenders the very approach she fears. Not all pursuers are women.
Many partners have had traumatic rejection experiences with one or both of their parents. Over involvement with their mother, some people have unrealistic expectations of their marriage. A great many partners have had emotional deficiencies with their fathers, and bring these emotional needs to their marriage.
The Fragile Bond ~ Napier