What Women Want From Their Man: He Needs to Listen
What do women want from their man? And why don’t we get it? One of the biggest questions we get in our therapy practice is this: “Why doesn’t he listen when I’m talking to him?”
Are you getting what you want from your man? Do these statements feel familiar?
He doesn’t listen to me.
He zones out.
I feel like I’m talking to a wall.
I may as well be alone.
Have you been frustrated by your guy’s “checking out” while you’re talking to him? Does the following story ring true for you?
Pam felt alone as the door slammed behind her husband.
This morning was no different than most. Another day. Different conversation. Same outcome. And Pam was left with the same sick feeling in the pit of her stomach.
Martin was hidden behind his cell phone, slurping his coffee. Pam tried desperately to get his attention. “Honey, Jimmy asked if you’re going to his game tonight. Of course I couldn’t answer him. I never know what to tell him.”
Pam waited patiently, the silence killing her. She felt invisible and unimportant. She couldn’t wait it out.
“I suppose you’ll be working late again. Are you still working on closing that big deal? The one your boss threw at you last week? You any closer to that promotion he’s promised for the last 6 months? I suppose a promotion will just make you more unavailable to us, huh?”
Martin rolled his eyes, still glued to his cell …….
“Martin, please listen to me! What am I supposed to tell Jimmy about his game? Martin…can you put your phone down for just a minute and pay attention? I’m not the only parent in this family. But why do I feel like it?”
Pam’s eyes had filled with tears as her words fell on her husband’s deaf ears…again. Her fear and frustration escalated with every passing second she was ignored.
Martin was frozen, looking at who knows what on his phone, hiding from his wife’s scornful glares and badgering rapid-fire questions. He felt the pressure of the promotion hanging in the balance. At the same time he remembered being 12 and hoping that his dad would show up to watch him play little league. He felt flooded and lost. He knew whatever he said would likely be the wrong thing and would elicit another round of inquisition. Martin felt himself slipping into that familiar dark hole, no longer sure what her question even was.
Engaging in conversation with her no longer felt like a safe possibility. Pam’s emotion overwhelmed him.
The more Pam pursued, the deeper Martin withdrew. Why doesn’t he listen?
Here we go again. Another day, another conversation. But same outcome!
He goes away and leaves me alone, having to deal with all the day-to-day decisions on my own. He doesn’t hear me. I feel like I’m talking to a wall. Obviously everything in his life is more important to him than I am.
Does he still love me?
Does this sound at all familiar? Have you felt Pam’s frustration and confusion?
When a couple is not securely attached, the way they connect with each other is fairly predictable. In an earlier post, Dr. Regier writes:
“In nearly every couple one person takes the position of pursuing connection by expressing emotion and trying to get to the bottom of the conflict. The other person takes the position of trying to not make the connection worse by holding back his emotional expression. Most of the time women are pursuers and men are withdrawers, however these roles can be reversed and can change in different relationships.”
Pam and Martin repeated this pursue/withdraw pattern over and over. Pam pursued her husband’s engagement and connection by expressing emotion. And the more she felt unheard, the harder she pursued and the more Martin withdrew, withholding his emotion and engagement.
If we are to be heard by our partner, it’s imperative we understand what’s going on in the pursue/withdraw cycle.
You are not alone in “feeling alone”, unheard or unloved.
Your relationship will be better, more fulfilling and your love stronger when you understand the foundations of connection.
How we communicate at the breakfast table is indicative of the strength of our relationship.
That’s a bold statement, I know. But there is a boat-load of research to support it. Some of that is found in our book: Emotional Connection: The Story & Science of Preventing Conflict & Creating Lifetime Love.
What’s keeping you from going after an incredible emotional connection with your partner?