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Man Cave - Legit Coping Mechanism or Excuse to be a Jerk?

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  • Man Cave - Legit Coping Mechanism or Excuse to be a Jerk?

    Hi!

    So I've been with my man partner for going on 3 years and we regularly cycle through these withdraw/pursuit patterns that are frankly exhausting to me, as the anxious pursuer. I am trying VERY hard to respect his need for space and to not panic every time he withdraws a bit due to stress or whatever. In the past, if he was stressed out, he would simply ignore my calls/texts or WORSE pick up the phone and hang up on me...if I pushed too hard he'd go right into "well maybe i'm not the right guy for you" nonsense. Then a week later he'd act like nothing ever happened and I am the crazy one for being hurt by his rude behavior to me when I had literally done nothing to him. Over time, he has learned to just tell me he's stressed and needs some alone time and I really do try to respect it. So, in general, YAY PROGRESS.

    HOWEVER, this pattern is still very emotionally taxing for me. I've been reading all that Mars/Venus stuff about how men need to retreat to their man caves and how a Good Woman simply hangs out with her girlfriends and does her nails a million times and Tries Not to Take It Personally. But like...really? I would like to have a rational conversation with him that goes something like this.

    ME: I notice you seem a little stressed. Everything ok?
    HIM: I'm just stressed out.
    ME: Sorry you are under stress, please let me know if you'd like to talk about it.
    HIM: Cool, thanks, I will.
    ME: Do you need some alone time?
    HIM: Yeah. I love you I just need time to myself.
    ME: Ok. I'm here for you, love you, bye.
    HIM: Thanks, Love you, bye.

    But what I routinely get is:
    ME: I notice you seem a little stressed. Everything ok?
    HIM: I'm just stressed out.
    ME: Sorry you are under stress, please let me know if you'd like to talk about it.
    HIM: Why would you ask me that.
    ME: Sorry what?
    HIM: If you can tell I'm stressed why would you ask me to talk about it.
    ME: I'm just trying to be supportive...
    HIM: hangs up.

    !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! !!!!!!!

    So I say my little Good Woman mantra "it's not about you it's not about you it's not about you" but my heart is screaming WHAT THE ACTUAL ************ is this?? And then i'm left with thinking alright he's in his cave, he'll come out when he wants to....but it's VERY hard for me to resist texting him/calling him whatever. Especially since we have talked every day for 3 years EXCEPT when we are having an actual fight. I know talking to him when he's grumpy is not productive, and although my post sounds kind of sarcastic and angry, I really do love this guy and I really want to support him when he's stressed....all I want to do is cook him a big meal and give him a back massage and just do all that lovely girlfriend stuff. But it's hard to get over my own annoyance at how he's treating me to ride out his stress and be pleasant and receptive when he bounces back.

    So my question for the group is...how do you deal with the withdraw/pursue cycle (I hear it is relatively common) without loosing your mind and resorting to black/white thinking (every time he's rude to me there is a part of my brain that tells me "HE DOESN'T LOVE YOU ANYMORE JUMP SHIP", but I realize that may be a personal problem related to my anxiety and try to keep that part of my brain locked down).

    Right...back to the question. How do you cope with withdraw/pursue?

    THAAAAANKS.

  • #2
    Maybe his words a long time ago were indicative, that he isn't the right guy for you?

    He needs something that stresses you to give him, time and space. You want to show your love and support in the way he LEAST needs it-with touching and other kind gestures.

    It can feel very smothering to him, and you feel rejected. Neither of you are having your needs/wants met here. Doesn't mean that it can't be improved, it just takes some work on both your parts. Have you been able to have a meaningful discussion with him about this?

    Are you living together? How is the relationship in other areas, when he isn't stressed?
    How often is he stressed out, and what sorts of things are stressors?

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    • #3
      HI Stella. I reviewed your post from last year: https://www.womens-health.com/boards...is-to-tolerate . Your man partner is a bit rough around the edges. Maybe counseling would help him understand how he comes across to you. As for a man cave, it seems to be the way many if not most guys deal with stress and anxiety. Withdraw, sort things out and come back to the outside world. Very different than how most women deal with the same situations.
      I have but one lamp by which my feet are guided, and that is the lamp of experience.
      ...
      Shall we gather strength by irresolution and inaction? Shall we acquire the means of effectual resistance by lying supinely on our backs and hugging the delusive phantom of hope, until our enemies shall have bound us hand and foot?

      From a speech by Patrick Henry on March 23, 1775 at St. John's Church, Richmond, Virginia

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      • #4
        Originally posted by jns View Post
        As for a man cave, it seems to be the way many if not most guys deal with stress and anxiety..
        Hi Stella
        my husband does has a "man cave" he built where he retreats after work (if we don't have a kid activity)

        after working all day, he just wants to decompress and play computer card games
        sometimes I go visit him or call on the phone down to the basement

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        • #5
          Agghh...from my mobile, it isn't so easy to look at past posts.

          I guess my thoughts from a year ago stand, and today's. Some intensive counseling is probably going to be needed to sort through this, though, as I think this goes deeper than you can probably work through without some guidance.

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          • #6
            IMO - Some people need alone time to sort out their thoughts, feelings, anger issues etc. Why do you really need to know the source of his stress at the time he is stressing about it? If he indicates he's stressed, just let him go and think things through. When I was working and came home stressed from my job, my co-workers, my boss, the last thing I wanted to do was rehash my day. Perhaps it happened that on that particular day I was called up on the carpet or had a bad review etc. etc. It would be impossible for me to "talk about it". Give him space, he'll come around and perhaps in a better frame of mind.

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            • #7
              So, Stella, if you weren't just venting and are actually still around: maybe you should ask yourself, are you being a little too much of a clinger? As a man, I find it a more than a little fatiguing to be another person's only means of validation, no matter how much much I love her.
              I once ended a relationship with a pretty, intelligent, loving woman because she wanted to plan our every waking moment at least a week in advance.
              Now, if that's not you, I apologize, but if maybe you see just a little bit of yourself there, well, think about it.
              And one more thing: a guy, unless he's some sort of androgenous metrosexual, doesn't much talk about his fellings, nor for that matter, sot around and think about them. Try not to take that characteristic as a personal affront.
              And one more thing: maybe he's **not** the right man for you...

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              • #8
                Men in general do tend to deal with stress by withdrawing into themselves. There are some women who do, as well. BUT you still deserve respect and having a little clarity isn't wrong. As long as he treats you with respect in general, then just let him retreat into his mancave. However, if he blanks you or pushes you away, make sure you tell him it's not OK to do so. Yes, he's a man, but he isn't stupid and should know you both need to communicate. I'm not saying you should tell each other everything, but talking is important. Let him know this.

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                • #9
                  Talking things to death isnt always a solution. Maybe the guy just wants to avoid the talk-talk-talk of "the anxious pursuer."

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                  • #10
                    I get the impression that this guy just isn't the right guy for you, no matter how hard you try. Think square peg and round hole. You can force the square peg into the round hole by wearing down the edges of the square some, but it's never going to fit properly.
                    "Be what you're looking for."

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                    • #11
                      Thanks for the feedback everyone! I fear it may be true that we are just not right for each other but I suppose I don't have to tell you all that it is very difficult to walk away from somebody when 80% of the time they are a dream. As a follow-up, he was indeed stressed and it was about something relatively big that he wasn't telling me that came out a few days later - he's going to have to be away for 3 months and is leaving soon and hadn't told me though he'd been planning it for months. SO, there's that. I was not being a crazy anxious clinger-type....my senses were on point.
                      Last edited by stella5; 02-06-2018, 06:30 AM.

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                      • #12
                        I agree with both Texasred and Beautiful Disaster: talking things to death won't help. I do believe there is only so far talking can go. I also agree that no matter what you do, you'll never be right for him. If you can't be yourself in a relationship, you're in the wrong relationship. Don't be a peg in a square hole.

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