Men_feelings_web

On Mars they don’t share

Men are from Mars and Women are from Venus. That’s the name of the popular book and the concept has so resonated that the title phrase has passed into popular parlance. The whole premise of course is that while men and women share some commonality, they are fundamentally different. Now a new study has added further fuel to the argument of those who believe this to be true.

The psychology and personal development movements hold that there is a lot of value for all people in “sharing” their feelings. One stereotyped criticism of men has been that they are less willing than women to share their feelings and that this in turn restricts their growth. No-one could seriously contend that keeping emotions repressed is a good thing but a new study has suggested that men might not need to share as much as ladies.

To arrive at this conclusion a group of researchers from the University of Missouri conducted four separate studies on almost 2000 children and adolescents. They asked the participants how talking about their problems would make them feel. The results were surprising.

Girls had positive expectations as to how talking about problems would make them feel. Contrary to expectations the boys did not have more negative expectations than the girls. The boys did not, for example, expect to feel embarrassed, express concern about being teased, or feel bad about not taking care of their problems themselves. So no more angst about discussing problems was expressed by boys than was expressed by girls. There was, however, a difference.

The boys’ responses suggested that they did not see talking about problems as being a particularly useful activity. Boys said they would feel “weird” and that discussing problems is “wasting time”. The implications of this are many.

For parents it might help, for instance, to try to explain to boys why talking about problems is not a waste of time and may be useful. However, trying to make boys feel “safer” so they will confide may be missing the point. On the other hand, girls can be at risk for excessively talking about things which can dispose to depression and anxiety. So girls should be guided to know that talking is not the only way to cope.

As adults the findings may lead into romance issues as many relationships follow a “pursuit-withdrawal” cycle, in which one partner, usually the woman, pursues talking about problems while the man withdraws. While women have expectations that talking will make them feel better, men may feel that talking will make the problem bigger and that other coping mechanisms may be more useful. Awareness of these basic differences may ease the tension in a few relationships.

It would seem then, that those seeking to make extraterrestrial contact should stop looking for messages from Mars, those Martians are not a talkative lot.

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The WellBeing Team

The WellBeing Team

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