In a relationship, having your partner withdraw at an emotional level can bring confusion, pain, and frustration.
At some point, every woman has experienced this. We are left feeling bewildered by why and how this happens. Typically, we look at our selves and wonder “What did I do?
The answer to put your mind at ease is nothing (most likely). It has more to do with the confusion of emotional intensity than with any particular person. There are particular situations and scenarios that can cause men to withdraw.
It is very important to note that just because a man withdraws does not mean he is withdrawing from you. It does take men more time to integrate and understand emotions. Understanding emotions is not something that happens to men spontaneously in the midst of a heated discussion. Men require space and time to figure out what is happening, both within themselves and with their partner.
Men have been discouraged from feeling emotional. they have been mocked, attacked, and belittled when showing an emotional side. “The biggest harm that is not recognized or appreciated for the depth of the damage that it causes at the emotional level to a man is that men are expected to be tough, to protect, and kill to defend their family. Violence, and the expectation of violence mandates an absence of emotional sensitivity.” (Keith Artisan)
A man faces a conundrum when being emotionally vulnerable. It is rare enough to find a man who wants to delve within and unleash heir emotion. It does not mean that he is going to be masterful at it. For men to be comfortable in their own skin and accept their feeling nature takes a growth curve. Have some compassion and be understanding. Men are raised to step up and be protective and watch out for their own. It is hard to do that and wear their heart on their sleeve.
A woman has a lifetime of experience navigating the highs and lows of feeling emotions. Women grow up with emotional states and are accepted as sensitive, feeling beings. Women are able to observe, feel, recognize and better communicate feelings than men. Women are also adept at observing and recognizing the emotional states in other people. And when a woman finds a man who loves her, at some level, she feels a great deal of hope because she has found an emotional match, somebody who understands them.
Women will share all their heart and feelings, and not understand how this can impact a man. And when a man does not respond as she needs, the feelings of being hurt or misunderstood arise. How those feelings are expressed matter a great deal.
The best men want an intimate connection with women. But often do not know how to do that.
Men do not fall short in the emotional realm because they are emotionally immature. They are emotionally inexperienced. Men face expectations and pressure about emotions that are confusing and contradictory. And when they find a partner where there is a mutual love it brings to life a living fire that has been suppressed for a lifetime. It is like a baby learning to walk. They will fall down, make mistakes, and they are blind as to how to listen and communicate emotions.
Men experience a learning curve when connecting to their sensitive side. And just as any beginner, they will make mistakes. Sometimes the mistakes are colossal and sometimes laughable. Men need an emotional example, how to live with and operate with emotions in a healthy way. They also need to be accepted as they are, beginners with a sincere intention. Remember that for most men, mastery over emotions means suppressing them, hiding feelings behind a mask, or just turning off emotions entirely. It takes time to even identify the subtle emotions. They are figuring out how to function themselves and the people around them.
Any teacher knows that mocking a beginner or putting them down, criticizing them or their approach, will stunt the learning curve, if not completely stop it. It becomes the man’s partner to guide them into the world of feeling emotions. When she expresses anger, puts down her man, belittles or mocks him, a man feels attacked (as anyone would). When she demands him to be sensitive, a man feels not good enough.
When a man faces a women’s wrath he will respond in the ways he has been taught to feel emotions since early childhood; with anger. Anger is one of the few emotions accepted in men because it is a necessary emotion to be a soldier. Anger is a natural defensive response for men. And once they become angry with their partner, there is a host of problems that arise afterward. Guilt, shame, inadequacy, failure, and fear. These emotions that are attached to anger are inevitable when fury shows its face, especially when they know that their loved one has been hurt as a result of their anger.
It takes time for a man to feel comfortable feeling emotions. After all, such a man is challenging what has been deeply ingrained in an entire society. A man’s natural response, when hurt or confused, is to withdraw. And whether this a physical space, mental space, or even silence, the “man cave” is an essential healing tool for the manly mind. The cave allows integration of the experience, introspection to see what is happening within, and understanding to know how to better respond in the future.
SET THE EXAMPLE
Women set the example and emotional tone that allows their partner to feel safe. When a man faces a woman who is emotionally stable, it allows him to understand his own emotions. The depth of understanding that the woman has with herself and her own emotional nature will give him the security to express and unveil his own strengths. The woman who is emotionally secure brings a presence of emotional security to the relationship. A well-meaning man will appreciate this and do his best, and grow faster and reveal the depths of his spirit with increasing strength and confidence.
Granted, the ideal is that a man can figure out his emotional state and come in his own emotional maturity through his own self-generated willpower. Yet the reality is that teachers, guides, mentors, and coaches accelerate this process and help a person navigate the confusing and mysterious world of emotions. As the man learns his emotional state, he is also facing the additional challenges from his friends, family, etc.
The woman who is insecure with her own emotions will see a man who withdraws as a threat and denigrates him and goes on the attack. This is the antithesis of supportive behavior. She may not realize that he is a man who is brave to face his own should and bare his spirit with vulnerable trust. When a man does not respond as she needs and demands at the emotional level, lashing out will only cause harm. Gentle understanding and compassionate acceptance brings healing and deepens the relationship. One of the best qualities women have is the ability to nurture.
Nurturing is not aggressive. And with a man, directing aggression at him will generate a similar response. He will either fight or take flight. The flight or fight response is deeply ingrained into every human being. In essence, attacking a man who is opening his heart will trigger a survival level instinct. Once that level awakens in the relationship, the dynamics change and may never come to back to equilibrium.
Nurturing is not forceful, instead, it is accepting and allows for a natural growth curve. Be patient. A man who is learning to embrace his deeper truths will need time to fully develop into his potential.
Appreciate the men who take the time to stand up against society to discover, feel, live and bring out their sensitive side. It takes a strong heart to face down societal expectations and programmed beliefs. Give him gratitude, thank him for being available.