Demand/withdraw patterns in serial arguments: Implications for well-being

Rachel S. Malis*, Michael Elwood Roloff

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

87 Scopus citations


Serial arguing has been linked to relational difficulties. We extend this research by looking at the relationship between demand/withdraw patterns enacted during argumentative episodes and aversive reactions after the episode has ended in romantic relationships (N = 219). We found that individuals who initiated the first confrontation often reported they did so because they were very upset and they initiated a self-demand/partner-withdraw pattern that was repeated in subsequent episodes. The self-demand/partner-withdraw pattern was positively related to experiencing intrusive thoughts and feelings about the episode, attempts to avoid such thoughts and feelings, a hyperaroused state, and disruption of everyday activities. Individuals who were originally confronted by their partners report that their partners demanded they change and they withdraw, and this pattern was repeated in typical episodes. This pattern is more strongly related to stress than was self-demand/partner-withdraw and was equally predictive of attempts to avoid thinking about the event. However, the partner-demand/self-withdraw sequence was not strongly related to most of the other aversive episodic reactions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)198-216
Number of pages19
JournalHuman Communication Research
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 1 2006

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Communication


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