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.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.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.But, gee, I wish I’d understood it better at the time. In our work with couples, we see it all the time - one partner pursues, the other withdraws.We have a framework for this we call PAP & PEP (stands for Primal Abandonment Panic, and Primal Engulfment Panic.) More info on it is here: I do think it is interesting that it seems that in heterosexual relationships, women are in the demanding/pursuing role, and men in the withdrawing role.
Similarly, avoidantly attached husbands who perceived discussions about solving problems in marriage as potentially destructive were much more likely to withdraw and disengage.(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.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.