Most of us have heard of the book Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus, which highlights differences between women and men. Women, on the positive side, are emotionally-focused nurturers who are the heart of relationships. On the flip side they can be capricious, demanding, and critical. Men’s affirmative qualities include being logical and rational problem-solvers; however, they can also be dominating, aggressive, and stoic.
To be sure, there are differences between men and women, and different outlooks abound as to the origins of these differences. It’s the classic question of nature vs. nurture. Personally, I’d like to think it’s a little bit of both.
While highlighting our differences is revealing, I also believe that focusing our attention on these differences narrows our perspective of ourselves and the opposite-sex. Our similarities far outweigh our differences, both negative and positive. We all can be jealous, distrusting, have affairs, and deny our responsibilities as partners and parents. In addition, all of us have the desire to love and be loved, even if we are afraid to say it. Each of us has a need to feel safe, secure, respected, and valued in our relationships.
That said, men and women usually expect and even want these needs to be satisfied in different ways. And to me, this is where most of our differences lie: in the process. A basic example of this is sex: many men’s emotional needs may be fulfilled through sex, but for many women this is not enough. They may want to spend quality time that includes a good conversation where they feel understood in order to feel fulfilled. Always remember, though, that the core need is still the same: to be securely connected.
A Caveat: Knowing our differences can be quite helpful in our relationships, especially when it comes to the ways in which we fulfill needs. However, if we persist in stressing our differences we continually run the risk of bringing negativity into the relationship by seeing the opposite sex as inferior, and reinforcing our gender’s superiority. And negativity is to a relationship as rust is to metal.
Bryan Norman, 2011