By Alex Matlock
Many women find it incredibly difficult to understand men … and for good reason. Men and women are totally different from one another. Instead of burying our heads in the sand, we should aim to embrace our differences. But first, we must understand what they are and why they exist.
Fortunately, modern science has allowed us to reach some conclusions about why the sexes are so different, and it mainly boils down to how our brains are structured. Now, understanding the brain structures of the sexes may not make a man fall wildly in love with you. Still, it may just help you relate better to men.
1. Words versus cues Women communicate much more successfully than men. They focus on how to create solutions that work for everyone. They talk through issues and utilize non-verbal cues like tone, emotion and empathy.
Men, on the other hand, tend to be more task-oriented, less talkative and more isolated. Men have a hard time understanding emotions that are not spoken. These differences clearly explain why men and women sometimes have difficulty in communication and why men-to-men friendships look different from friendships between women.
So, when a man asks you if something is wrong and you say “Nothing,” unless you actually tell him what’s wrong, he won’t have the slightest clue. Sure, your best friends get you and maybe even your husband if you’ve been together for years, but the average guy — or even your two-year-long boyfriend — won’t.
2. Left brain versus both brain hemispheres. Experts have proven that men process better in the left hemisphere while women tend to process equally well between the two hemispheres, which is why men are stronger with left-brain activities and approach problem-solving from a task-oriented perspective while women typically solve problems more creatively. It also explains why men generally aren’t as good at multi-tasking.
3. Mathematical abilities. An area in the brain called the inferior-parietal lobule (IPL) is typically significantly larger in men than women, especially on the left side. This is the section responsible with mathematical ability, and it probably explains why men perform higher in mathematical tasks than women. What’s even more interesting is that this area of the brain was abnormally large in Einstein. The IPL also processes sensory information, and the larger right side in women allows them to focus on “specific stimuli” such as baby crying in the night.
4. Reactions to stress. In stressful situations, men have a response reaction that resembles “fight or flight” while women react with a “tend and befriend” strategy. Psychologist Shelly E. Taylor first came up with the phrase “tend an befriend” after noticing that during times of stress, women tend to take care of themselves and their children (tending) and form strong group bonds (befriending).
The reason behind these different reactions to stress comes down to hormones. When someone is under stress, the hormone oxytocin is released into the body. In men, testosterone reduces the effects of oxytocin as it is produced in high volumes during stress. This explains the reason for the “fight or flight” response. In women, estrogen amplifies the effects of oxytocin, resulting in calming and nurturing feelings.
5. Language. The two sections in the brain responsible for language have been found to be significantly larger in women than in men, suggesting one reason why women typically excel in language-based subjects and in language-associated thinking. It’s also important to mention that men typically process language in one hemisphere while women process it in both. This difference offers a bit of protection in case of a stroke, as women may be able to recover fully from a stroke affecting the language areas in the brain while men may not have this same advantage.
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