I took some time to think about what she told me and I have figured out why this happens.
Unlike the premise of the article she read this is not a male disorder but a female one. If my wife were to say to me:
"Hi honey. I was just thinking about changing the oil in the car but I'm not sure where the socket set is or the drip pan. Do you know where they are? I'd really like to get this done before lunch time so I can cook you something tasty."
Steve's imaginary wife.
I would very quickly (and happily) show here where all the tools she needed were and encourage her to change the oil in my car too. That is not what happens though. Woman are never this straightforward. What often happens is the following:
"Oh look at this dress! Isn't it beautiful? Oh do you think it costs too much? Does it go well with my hair and skin tone? Oh I really want to get it. You sure you don't think it costs too much? Does it make me look fat?"
Steve's real wife.
That is what my real wife would say to me and yes, I would shut down and not respond. Why is that? It's because she did not give me anything to respond to. She is not looking for an answer she is looking for me to say, "It is nice, go ahead and buy it. Make you look fat? Why you'd have to gain another 50 lbs. before you even started to look fat... blah blah blah..." I'd be tempted to tell her what I really think (which she does not want to hear) and then I would suffer for days for doing so!
When a man is asked a question he listens and then processes the question. He looks for the logic in the question and answers accordingly. This works wonderfully when a woman asks a question that is seeking a logical answer. It breaks down when a woman phrases a question as if she wants a logical answer; "does this make me look fat" but only wants some sort of sympathy answer rather than a real answer.
A man wants to "fix" the problems his woman has. He sees this as a sign of his love. The woman sees this as a sign that the man is an ass because she (obviously) has no problems. No problems other than that she is suffering through life with this man who has no idea what she wants!
Many years ago a man, who had been married longer than I, explained to me how to get out of one of the most deadly husband-to-wife encounters. When your wife points to a woman who is more attractive than her and asks you if you find that woman attractive there is only one response. It's not yes and it's not no. The correct answer is to say, "what woman?"