Individual Counseling, Couples Counseling and Sex Therapy

Men and Arguing: Fascinating New Information

According to a recent study from the University of Southern California, men shut down emotionally when arguing with their significant other.  Any wife or long-term girlfriend will tell you they didn’t need a study to tell them this.  Or, as one of my colleagues succinctly puts it: “That’s from the DUH journal of counseling.”  But, what is newly discovered is that when men are under stress, the regions of the brain associated with understanding social cues become disengaged from other parts of the brain.  Thus, they withdraw.  Women, on the other hand, don’t seem to have this issue.  Women’s brains stay coordinated regardless of how much stress they are under.  At least with regard to reading emotions.  I’m not talking about lost car keys here.

This is why so often in the pursue/withdraw dynamic, the pursuer is usually the woman.  What happens is that the woman will want to discuss an issue, the man doesn’t appear to care (remember: they are having trouble reading social clues right now), so the woman begins to get frustrated and escalates her irritated behavior, which causes the man to withdraw more to avoid her anger, which causes her to yell louder, yeah, we can see where this is going.

Whereas this scientific explanation is not going to address this dysfunctional dynamic in your relationship, it may depersonalize it.  Ladies, it may not be that your man doesn’t think your concern is important, it could be that part of his brain has temporarily shut down. You may be able to put yourself in his shoes, but he can’t return the favor right now.

Of course, your issues may be deeper than this.  Take the Relationship quiz on my website (about halfway down on the right) to see if couples counseling may be beneficial.  If you think it might be, give me a call at (813) 404-9215.

Until next time,

Barbara LoFrisco, LMHC, LMFT, Dip.ABS

Source: Parade magazine, October 24, 2010, p. 13.

1 Comment

  1. Terry Saux

    Always enjoy your insights. Looking forward to your next one.

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