Are There Still Differences Between Male and Female Psyches?
After John Gray’s Book “Men Are From Mars and Women Are From Venus” came out decades ago, significant mental and emotional differences between the sexes explained many of the difficulties that caused relationship turmoil needing Dr. Phil’s “Relationship Rescue” as well as the many relationship books by John Gottman. Taking the time to understand why a people in relationships are the way they are or how they got to be a certain way and how this affects the quality of the relationship, can reduce the sting and disruption of annoying differences. Consider some of these key differences, that when not understood, can make any relationship deteriorate and make it much more difficult to fix than it needs to be.
Women are generally better communicators than men. This is probably so because they generally have more empathy and other important emotional intelligence factors, and better language skills. And, they are generally more agreeable and better problem-solvers than men, who may be more aggressive, disagreeable and much more open to ideas than emotions. Also, women have more white matter in their brains and therefor can process information quicker, which is important in communication exchanges of information and especially feelings, just like active listening ability.
Most women really do want their cake and eat it too, despite knowing the futility of that desire. A good example is that women are drawn to men that are both strong on the outside and able to occasionally show a little vulnerability on the inside. They also want both rationality and emotionality in their men, as well as both steady predictability and spontaneity. And, they want take-charge men when they want them, as well as being able to be independent when they want that. On the other side of the gender fence, most men want it all—women who are smart, agreeable, make good money and have lively personalities and good looks and great bodies (unfortunately this isn’t often in sync with their own assets). They also want a lock on their private naughty escapades at home, with a look-great, but don’t-touch trophy mandate in public.
Most women need to be listened to and understood rather than told or fixed. This is a hard lesson for most men, who have strong teller and fixer genes. Most woman also enjoy men who are open to learning, growing and improving into their better selves because that is the way they are. Most men need women to voluntarily and genuinely admire their best assets, accomplishments and abilities, but not with insincere or condescending lip service, or worse yet, competitive hint. Men secretly need their women to brag for them, even though that is difficult for women who have more humility and less testosterone.
Women seem to be more capable of expressing unconditional love and here again the empathy asset may be the key. Most men have a difficult time loving unconditionally, but never-the-less often, but wrongly, tend to take it for granted with their woman. Fair tit for tat exchanges, acceptable, agreed-to or assumed conditions and control are more important in a man’s world than a woman’s. Although men are usually known to have stronger libido’s than women, that may be more about the ease in which they can express it. For most men, romantic physical intimacy is confirmation of love, while with women, it is more about emotional intimacy and connectedness. Regarding jealousy, women tend to be bothered more by emotional infidelity, whereas with men it is more about sexual infidelity. And of course there are always inter and intra-gender differences in what particular “love language(s),” from Gary Chapman’s work, are preferred.
Men generally attack stress aggressively and defend against any and all criticism, whereas women are more inclined to seek support group help and avoid giving and receiving criticism whenever possible. This difference may have to do with men’s tendency to externalize blame for faults and problems onto others or environmental factors, whereas women internalize and personalize these things and don’t overly welcome criticism even when it may be honest. Men are generally more disagreeable and critical and this itself can breed more stress, which just fuels the vicious circle. Also women have the advantage of estrogen and oxytocin for calming, while men are saddled with testosterone, which just ups the agro level.
Most men enjoy women who are good to go as is and who don’t need to change for the better, which is always hard for them to deal with. This is especially true about woman growing and making upsetting changes themselves, like going form dependent to independent, uneducated to educated, or conservative to risk-taking. Women seem to be less resistive to change than men, but again, this may have to do more with men’s strong control and fixing genes and women’s larger supply of empathy, better way of dealing with stress and better communicating ability. All this being said, perceived needed changes by partners of either sex, when they are unfulfilled, raises a serious roadblock of incompatibility.
Obviously the SPR gene of the Y Chromosome sex difference, starts the physical variances. Other interesting differences include the following. Women experience pain more acutely than men do. Ability differences between the sexes involve left brain advantages for men with math, spatial relationships and motor skills, with women’s right brain advantages of empathy and language. Regarding mental health, men are more prone to neurological disorders such as Autism, ADHD, dyslexia and Turrets Syndrome, whereas women are more prone to mood disorders, like depression and anxiety.
The evolutionary end-game here is we all end up using whole brains and so any of these current differences are not written in stone. And at the end of the day John Gottman was probably correct in saying the main incompatibility that can be the biggest problem in relationships, is an incompatibility in the way a couple deals with all the incompatible differences listed above. In the meantime though, consider some of these key male and female psyche differences that may need a tad more understanding and patience in your own relationship improvement efforts. Then watch your satisfaction grow from your efforts.
William Cottringer, Ph.D. is Executive Vice-President for Employee Relations for Puget Sound Security, Inc. in Bellevue, WA, and Adjunct Professor of criminal justice at Northwest University, along with his hobbies in being a Sport Psychologist, Business Success Coach, Photographer and Writer living in the peaceful but invigorating mountains and rivers of North Bend. He is author of several business and self-development books, including, “You Can Have Your Cheese & Eat It Too” (Executive Excellence), “The Bow-Wow Secrets” (Wisdom Tree), “Do What Matters Most” and “P” Point Management” (Atlantic Book Publishers), “Reality Repair” (Global Vision Press), Reality Repair Rx (Authorsden), and “If Pictures Could Talk,” coming soon. Bill can be reached for comments or questions at (425) 454-5011 or ckuretdoc.comcast.net