When it comes to problems, men and women process them differently ― not better or worse ― just differently. Understanding your partner’s coping mechanisms will provide you with the knowledge on how to successfully support them in times of stress, leading to a more happy, healthy and fulfilling relationship.
How Men & Women Process Problems
Men are wired to solve problems. So when a man has a problem, he talks to himself. However, this makes the woman feel rejected because she feels isolated. The truth is, the reason a man doesn’t talk about his problems is because he thinks it’s a sign of weakness. Instead, he wants the woman to leave him alone so he can come up with solutions. For a man, thinking about solutions increases his levels of testosterone which decreases his stress.
Women are wired to seek connection. So when a woman has a problem, she’ll talk to her man. However, this makes the man feel rejected because he feels responsible. The truth is, the reason she does talk about her problems is because that’s her way of healing. She wants the man to listen and validate her feelings without trying to ‘fix’ things. Sharing her problems is a sign of trust. For a woman, talking about her problem and feeling understood by her man increases her levels of oestrogen which decreases her stress.
“Men solve problems. Women share problems.”
It’s A Matter Of Evolution
Up until modern civilisation, men and women had clearly defined roles. Men hunted. Women gathered. Men hunted for wild animals and women gathered plant-based foods including nuts, seeds, fruits and vegetables. Both had to be extremely good at upholding their part of the “hunter-gatherer” relationship in order to survive.
As mankind evolved, this division of labour led to the development of different instincts. Men evolved to become solution-oriented while women evolved to become relationship-oriented.
While we no longer live in hunter-gatherer groups, these instincts still influence our modern-day behaviour, including how both sexes process problems.
Male brains are highly compartmentalised meaning they can separate and store information. Thus, when men have a problem they can file them away until they have the time and energy to solve them.
Female brains do not store information like men and so their problems constantly circulate in their minds. The only way a woman can get rid of her problems is by acknowledging and talking about them. She does this to discharge them, not to find solutions.
Men and women are hardwired to process problems differently.
For a man, processing information by thinking about it increases his levels of testosterone which decreases his stress and makes him feel better and for a woman, processing information by talking about it and feeling heard and understood by her man increases her levels of oestrogen which decreases her stress and makes her feel better.
Understanding these differences will put you in a position to successfully support your partner in moments of stress while avoiding conflict, which will lead to a more happy, healthy and fulfilling relationship.