Molly and Sam are arguing over their eldest daughter, who is doing poorly in school.
Molly has been worried about her daughter for some time now and seems to be trying to convince Sam to worry too.
Molly wants Sam to join him in feeling scared so he doesn’t feel alone. Sam denies her concerns of Molly. Not only does he insist that there is nothing to worry about, he also tries to convince Molly that there is nothing to worry about.
The conversation ends with Molly becoming more worried and Sam becoming more stoic and withdrawn. They are each convinced they are right, and neither listens well to their partner.
Anxiety is essentially preoccupation with a series of frightening predictions about an imaginary future. This is why meditation is one of the most effective treatments for anxiety. Because meditation teaches people how to focus on the experience of living in the present moment rather than worrying about the future. It is adaptive and warns of potential dangers. Mild to moderate anxiety increases productivity. When a coach talks to his team before a game, he tries to energize them rather than calm them down.
Couples are often polarized over their anxiety, with one partner falling into the role of the worryer and the other into the role of the reassurer. Anxiety disorders are diagnosed about twice as often as men, but women are not necessarily more anxious than men.
Research suggests that women are more emotionally expressive than men in a range of emotions and cultural settings. These differences are largely learned rather than innate. Girls are socialized as early as four months of age so that they can express themselves more emotionally. At the same time, boys are often fine-tuned to keep their emotions to themselves.
Anxiety is uncomfortable and most people don’t want to feel it if they can avoid it. This is why alcohol is served at most social events.anxiety is contagious and relational, That is, if one person in a relationship feels more insecure, the other may feel less. Those with power and privilege avoid feeling insecure by giving it to those with less power. In our patriarchal culture, men use privilege to protect themselves from insecurity and hand it over to women.
Men are socialized to see anxiety as a female trait, and are taught to hide their anxiety and “never be seen sweating.” Because women are not forbidden to express their emotions in the same way as men, they tend to be more open about sharing their anxieties with intimate partners.
Women naturally want to spread the load. Women want men to feel the insecurities they have. For a man, she may become more insecure of her own woman when she is around women who are openly insecure. This is especially true when a woman is upset, but a man can feel uncomfortable even when a woman is excited, joyful, or really excited.
Men feel disadvantaged when conversations with their partners become more emotional, as they are less comfortable and usually less skilled at talking about their feelings. , learn to control their excitement so as not to offend the man.
On one level, men recognize that they are not as emotionally developed as their partners. am. On a more unconscious level, many men fear that there is something wrong with them. They worry that they don’t have the feelings they should have: the feelings of seeing their partner.
To protect themselves, men not only work hard to control their own feelings of insecurity, but they also try hard to reassure their partner in the hope that it will lessen their anxiety, They try to “fix” the problems they think are causing them. So their own anxiety is reduced. When a man’s partner gets upset, it becomes his only concern in life, as if nothing happens until the situation is resolved. “If mom is not happy, no one can be happy.”
This is not a process that men are generally conscious of. Many times, they realize that their partner’s level of emotional expression has become increasingly uncomfortable and that they need to do whatever it takes to stop it.
Many couples become more and more polarized as time goes on. As men become more stoic and withdrawn, women become more expressive and may even exaggerate their own insecurities in vain attempts to emotionally engage her partner. against. Both women and men can work on their part. A woman’s job is to calmly learn if her partner is ready for intimacy and connection.
Molly can slow down the pace and make room for Sam to be less insistent on sharing his concerns and talking about how he sees things. It involves facing what you have avoided.
Sam tells Molly that he’s having trouble hearing the intensity of her feelings, says he’s going for a little walk, and might suggest that he try to talk about it when he gets back. As men become more emotionally fluent and comfortable with their own insecurities, they have less of a need to avoid and transfer those feelings to their partners.
excerpt from Ms.: How a man’s fear of women shapes intimate relationships.” (lasting impact press)