Gender, topic, and time in observed demand-withdraw interaction in cross- and same-sex couples.J Fam Psychol. 2010 Jun; 24(3):233-42.JF
The demand-withdraw interaction pattern has been extensively studied and consistently linked to relationship quality in cross-sex relationships, but it has received little study using observational data in same-sex relationships. Demand-withdraw behavior, which occurs when 1 partner makes a complaint or request for a change and the other partner avoids the request or withdraws from the discussion (Christensen, 1988), was observationally coded in the problem-solving interactions of 75 (20 unmarried lesbian, 15 unmarried gay male, 20 unmarried straight cohabiting, and 20 married straight) couples. Results revealed that same- and cross-sex couples engage in demanding and withdrawing behaviors in highly similar ways. For all couples, partners demanded at a higher level during their own issue than during their partner's issue, and withdrew at a higher level during their partner's issue than during their own issue. Women demanded at higher levels than men, and men withdrew at higher levels than women. All partners were more likely to be in a demanding role during their own topic than during their partner's topic. Polarization was greater in woman-selected than in man-selected topics. Demanding increased over the course of the interaction, whereas no time effect was found for withdrawing. Higher levels of each partner's demanding were associated with lower levels of their own withdrawing and higher levels of their partner's withdrawing. Finally, higher levels of total demand-withdraw behaviors were associated with lower levels of relationship satisfaction for all couple types. Implications of results for refinement of models of demand-withdraw behavior are discussed.