Relationship conflicts between couples are inevitable. Differences often exist in the way conflict is managed. A women may desire to talk things out while a man may retreat, both physically and emotionally. These patterns don't mesh well, sometimes leading to further conflict. Understanding why men retreat or pout can open new avenues for conflict resolution.
Men traditionally remain stoic in the face of conflict, explains a Salon.com article, "Better Loving Through Chemistry." This approach, characterized by an unwilling to express emotion, can come across as pouting to a woman who is seeking an emotional response. Stoicism is often taught, both consciously and subconsciously, from father to son over generations. While it historically served the function of presenting the male as strong and unemotional and, therefore, supposedly capable of meeting the family's needs, the man of today is expected to be in touch with his feelings and willing to fully express them.
All families develop recurring patterns of interactions, according to "Psychiatric Mental Health Nursing." A man that has won a disagreement by pouting will use the ploy during future conflicts. It also allows him to get his way without resorting to methods such as yelling or threatening that might cause him to lose favor with his significant other. It is also possible that the man may be continuing an emotional response from childhood, remembering that his mother acquiesced to his desires if he pouted long enough.
Men pout in different ways. A few literally pout, with lower lip dropped and a sad expression on the face, but other pouting behaviors are more common. Some men prefer to be alone, leaving the house or closing a door behind them. They may remain silent for hours or days, using silence as a weapon to win the perceived battle. Feigning indifference is a pouting mechanism for some men.
Men may pout or retreat because they have less of the hormone oxytocin in their bodies, according to Salon.com. This hormone, which is found in higher levels in women, is an integral factor in human bonding. Differences in oxytocin levels may be responsible for the difference in response to relationship conflict, causing women to need intimacy while men need to be alone.
What to Do
If your man is pouting, it may be best to not try to force him to talk. Give him some time to cool off as you consider how to find a compromise to end the conflict. After a few hours, explain that you are interested in finding a solution that works for both of you and ask for his input. Overlooking relatively harmless behaviors such as pouting may eventually cause your man to feel free to express his feelings during conflict, rather than closing himself off. When he does talk about how he feels, respond respectfully and avoid being argumentative and may find he no longer resorts to pouting in the future.
- “Psychiatric Mental Health Nursing: Concepts of Care in Evidence-Based Practice”; Mary C. Townsend, M.N., A.P.R.N.; 2006
- Salon: Better Loving Through Chemistry