Here’s a comment from Sarah on my post about “ignoring a man“:
I have never heard such a strong argument for justifying abuse as a functional response to abuse.
My first response was “Wow – is that what I said? ”
So here’s the basic question (and I hope you’ll all weigh in on this…) – (and I realize, too – that this is an OLD post, and much of my work has matured over the years…):
Are “coldness” and “moodiness” and “ignoring,” as I describe them in this post – “abuse?”
And here’s my answer:
I do believe that “neglect” is abusive (I once experienced that in a long-term relationship and never put two and two together – though it’s hard to pin neglect down because it’s not doing anything assertively or aggressively TO you – it’s moving AWAY from you).
Yet, I don’t see this discussion in the post as in any way abusive.
People hide and shut down.
That’s the way we protect ourselves, habitually.
For me, “trying” to, or “working towards” opening up a person who’s shut down is non-productive.
To me, a wife is not a therapist.
Her job is not to sit down and try to open up her husband.
Her job is to be there in case he wants to open up, to offer a safe space for him to open up, to set an example and “go first” by opening herself up, and to live her own life without regard to his shutting down.
Ignoring, in this case, is simply not giving energy to something that doesn’t serve you.
It’s not reacting, it’s learning how this particular behavior of someone else’s is triggering you.
That said – the goal is always TALKING…and expressing yourself in Feeling Messages, and doing all the “going first.”
Encouraging and inspiring a man to open up is what we’re all about here, it’s what being a Modern Siren is all about – and yet, directly asking a man to “open up” and be “warmer” or “more attentive” is often useless when it’s a specific part of his nature to retreat and withhold.
The problem is in the dynamic, and in the dynamic I describe – a man’s withholding causes us to chase him down.
It makes us try to “engage” him, and DO things to “warm him up” and get him to give us what we want.
That kind of directed energy, focused on him – gets us the exact opposite of what we want.
He feels even MORE crowded, more pressured, more incompetent at fulfilling our needs.
And then that becomes even more true, as he withholds and withdraws even more to protect himself from what he instinctively feels “not good” with, we feel even more and more neglected, and he feels more and more incompetent.
Ignoring a man is a great first step in the healing process.
It’s a turning back of our “chasing” and “engaging” mechanism.
It stops our instinct to go get what we want.
It stops our instinct to make up for what’s missing.
It keeps us sane, and stops us from intensifying our anger and resentment.
It gives US a moment to breathe and reflect – and it does double duty by taking the pressure off of him.
In this way – “ignoring” becomes a healing mechanism rather than a neglectful one.
Ignoring is not judging. It’s not getting caught up in something. It’s stopping our habitual response to triggers.
Perhaps the word has a connotation that doesn’t work for this – but I like it.
It’s sort of not putting our attention on an ache or pain for a change – instead of staying engaged with the never-ending process of trying to “fix” it.
Neglect would be not feeding ourselves or bathing or smiling at our men for no reason at all.
Ignoring might be not getting caught up in things that are often “none of our business” – in THIS moment.
Let me know what you think, and I’ll keep working this out in my head and on paper.
Thank you, Sarah, for this huge and powerful comment.