The second of Dr. Sue Johnson’s demon dialogues is what she calls “demand-withdraw” or “criticize-defend”. She also calls it “The Protest Polka”. It is more subtle than the attack-attack pattern of “Find the Bad Guy”. She describes it this way in her book,”Hold Me Tight”. “One partner is demanding, actively protesting the disconnections; the other is withdrawing, quietly protesting the implied criticism.”
The Protest Polka is clearly illustrated in the graphic, “The Male/Female 9 Step Emotional Confrontation Cycle” in my book, “Becoming Soul Mates”. In this case my male client actually created the graphic trying to illustrate what happens between him and his wife. He confessed he often worked late because of his fear of coming home and facing confrontation by his wife for something of which he was unaware.
The wife, unaware of her fear of abandonment and disconnection, did what she knew how to do best. Get him in the bedroom at night and close the door. Then she would angrily confront him about what he had done or not done. The guy, unaware of his fear of her anger and criticism and disconnection, withdrew, spaced out, and responded as little as possible.
As you can see, this behavior does not lead to connection which both people desired. Instead, they both felt frustrated, unloved, and failure. They were unable to get past years of disconnection. They made it official and divorced.