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Men and Women: How Different Are We?

Men and Women How Different Are We

Many blissful romances fade with time.  The joyful surprise in finding someone exactly like us is all too soon followed by a sad suspicion that the he/she doesn’t “get” us, at all.  What were we thinking?  

Not too long ago women worked hard to prove that they were no less intelligent than men – in order to break through economic and career barriers.  Now, with fewer of these barriers and more breakthroughs in the science of neurobiology – allowing us to actually see into the brain – it’s time to evaluate the real differences between the sexes.  We will be less of a puzzle to one another.  And hopefully, with altered expectations, relationships will be more satisfying.  Biology isn’t destiny – but differences are more helpful when they are understood, worked with.  Appreciated.

Lets try to figure out the real problem

The two biggest areas of conflict for men and women are sex and verbal communication.  Men tend to want more of the first; women, more of the second.  Each can think the other doesn’t love them if there’s not enough of their favored form of interaction.

The truth, we now know, is no big surprise:  There is an actual sexual pursuit part of the brain. And (drumroll, please):  it is twice as big in men.  Men are also assigned a dramatically higher dosage of testosterone, the sexual turn-on hormone for both sexes.  In their teen years, testosterone increases 25-fold.  The increase for girls is one-fifth as much.  Male brains literally marinate in sexual fantasy.  They are also blessed with a simple piece of hydraulic equipment that guarantees relatively easy release.  

And women?  So much more complex.  A woman’s hormones, including testosterone, fluctuate on a daily basis and her brain structures favor worry, sensitivity and verbal communication.  The old saw is true:  foreplay for a man is the prior three minutes.  For a woman, it’s the prior 24 hours.  Any disagreement, or sense of not being understood/supported can interfere with her sexual interest and release.

Women need warm feet, a warm heart, and a safe, worry-free cuddle-zone.  They need to “get away.”  And their equipment is subtle.  Women can take up to 45 minutes longer than men to orgasm – even when everything’s just right.  Her later contractions may have biological purpose – they support fertilization by literally pulling the sperm toward the egg – but achieving that release can be a source of frustration and confusion in the relationship.  Men are often surprised; and women, embarrassed, by the combined intricacies of turning off the distracted female mind and turning on the subtle female equipment. Real women, unlike those gasping porn stars on the internet, ain’t so easy.

When women and men together figure out female release, they discover superior capacity for orgasm.  How about that…..

Intimacy between men and women

Women are also blessed with the superior capacity, bewildering to men, to “read” emotions.  They do this by “mirroring” the body language of their mate, and then interpreting the emotion behind it.  They are gifted in their ability to see through male efforts at hiding feelings – but at a loss, when those feelings are not verified by words.  Women are verbal creatures.  Men, often, are not.  They are not used to analyzing, or even naming, their feelings.  From a very young age, they have learned to keep quiet about their thoughts and feelings, what was happening on the “inside.”  Women, as little girls, learned to name and share their innermost feelings – and to read the feelings of others.    

Possible course of action and thought for both the genders:

What to do about these very real differences between men and women?  In a nutshell, both need to expect to do more work, be a bit more patient, in order to meet in the middle.

Men: If she’s not all over you, it doesn’t mean she doesn’t love you

Share the load, so she can relax.  Help with chores, planning, decisions, problem-solving.  Help her get things off her mind.  Show her that you’re dependable, committed, paying attention.  Listen to her.  Take her concerns seriously.  Warm her feet.  Notice her hormonal cycle:  she’s almost always hot to trot just before ovulation.  Learn about her subtle equipment.  Encourage her to show you.

Women:  Don’t expect your man to be as empathic as your girlfriend

Don’t expect him to know all the time what either of you is feeling.  He won’t.  Your ability to read him will help both of you.  Start relying more on your gift.  Teach him what you need him to say and what not to say – he really doesn’t know.  Let him know when you want him to just listen while you vent, and when you really want his advice.  Men’s brains are structured to search for quick solutions.  They aren’t used to empathizing.  You may come to value that quickness some threatening day!

Value what you have

True love is difficult to find.  Then – go figure – it requires extra effort when we finally do find it.  The easy romantic period always ends.  Think about it:  who can be that excited forever?  But a sustained relationship, nurtured with understanding, commitment and effort, can bring years of comfort and satisfaction.  Ironically, when we accept the premise that we actually are different, we are not exactly the same, we can finally “get” each other – and enjoy our differences.

  VERIFIED EXPERT
Heather is an experienced psychotherapist. She has successfully treated hundreds of children, adults, families and couples in a long, varied career. Issues have included loss and separation, disability, adjustment reaction to lifestyle change, health crises, relationship distress, domestic violence, trauma and abuse, family of origin dysfunction, loss of confidence, poor self-esteem, parenting problems, career exploration, and work-related stress.

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