We have all heard the statement that Men are from Mars and women are from Venus. Many of us have also read the popular book by John Gray published in the 1990s. Still, many people turn to it with the hope it will help them sort their relationship or marriage problems. According to this famous, self-gender book, women are intuitive, empathic and good communicators, while men are logical, competitive and do not talk about their emotions.
But are we that different?
Obviously, we have differences regarding size and anatomy, but the psychological attributes are what stirs controversy. It is hard to measure how different women and men are and are they born like that or have society and culture shaped them.
Most research suggests that women and men are different in personalities, but the answer to the question why is not known yet. Another important issue is how meaningful are these differences? The questions are many, but there are few answers to them.
Undoubtedly Gender is a large part of who we are. It is part of our identity, which is defined by the psychological differences both sexes have. We can see these differences forming many stereotypes like the ones we mentioned above, for example, men are more practical; they do not share their feelings, women are emotional, they like to talk about how they feel. These stereotypes can create the impression that the gap between the genders is huge.
Are the differences so profound?
A study on the differences between men and women found an overlap of almost 80% for more than 75% of the psychological characteristics in men and females. We are more similar than we think when it comes to risk taking, morality, and occupational stress. These similarities were consistent regardless of age and over time. It seems we are not so different after all.
However, there were also points in which there were significant differences between the genders. Some of them fitted the traditional stereotypes. For example, men were more masculine and aggressive, while women were more sensitive to pain and had a closer connection to peers.
The results of this research suggest that when we speak about most psychological attributes men and women are relatively similar.
In what way are men and females different?
Women have more neurons in the brain that connect its left and right parts. This is evidence that men act of their left brain, to solve problems one by one, while women efficiently access both hemispheres of their brain. The right side of the brain is usually associated with creative problem solving, and women have better access to it. Women are also better in multitasking compared to men.
Women possess a great combination of abilities like creative problem solving, multitasking and high intuition. They can consider a lot of information from various sources at the same time to get a broader perspective; they view different aspects as interdependent and interrelated.
Men like to focus on one problem at a time. They can distance themselves from problems, simplify things and they do not incorporate emotions or personal experiences in the problem solving as women do. This tendency in men can make solving some emotional or ethical problems easier. Men excel at logical thinking which is linear, and they can view different aspects of a task independently from one another.
How do relationships work?
So, with all the things we have mentioned so far, you would probably ask how do relationships between women and men even work?
Rather than seeing these differences as points of conflict, we can view them as desirable connections. The skills men and women have are complementary, and actually, the healthy balance of the two is the basis of stable partnerships. There should not be conflict because of these essential differences; instead, they should be viewed as fundaments of our relationships.
Men and women should embrace the distinctions but still, put the effort to learn the language of the other to build good communication.If men and women unite instead of competing, they can create working partnerships rather than separate in their realities.
Why do we need to look for the differences?
It is true that women need to feel supported at hard times, and men want to get to the solution as fast as possible. These differences are there, and we recognize them.
But what is the idea behind discussing and pointing them out?
A lot of people find establishing these differences helpful. Something is reassuring in the feeling that we know what to expect. This gives us a sense of control and having a way to understand conflicts helps us solve them faster and easier. But none of us should overly rely on such generalizations.
We are not trying to deny the existence of differences. But still, even if it is true that the two genders act and think differently, some individuals may not fit the trend. If women are known to be more emphatic and collaborative in an office environment. There is no guarantee that a particular woman will be like that when in a new team or job. The idea that the differences between women and men are based on biology is at least controversial.
Sometimes in search of consolation about relationship issues, people like to be convinced that all those belonging to the other sex are of a kind, they may end up making excuses for people and reinforcing some social stereotypes.
Instead of dividing the humans into two and assuming we understand all about the other half, we can just remind ourselves that everyone, regardless of the gender might see the world differently than we do. People of both sexes go through different things in life which shape them in one or another way. In the end, the lesson is to stay open for the different, embrace what we are and have to offer, be understanding and kind and we will connect equally well with both genders.