If you live with a guy, you know: They are different creatures. Way different, sometimes. And more and more, science is proving it's not just societal conditioning ... our brains are wired differently from theirs. Here are 10 ways women's brains are different from men's:
1. Menopausal women fear nothing and no one: Far from the meek granny in a rocker with her knitting, menopausal women are very open to conflict once their children are launched and no longer need their protection. They show it in different ways, but know this: Don't mess with Grandma.
2. Hormonal, nutty adolescence hits us not once but twice ... whee! At perimenopause, which usually strikes in the 40s and is the two to nine years before menopause, our hormones take the same roller coaster ride we "enjoyed" in our teens. Remember how you stared in the mirror despairing over your hair, your nose, your skin? Those days will be back.
3. We are not to be trifled with when we've just had a baby. New motherhood causes such a shift in our social role, our hormones, and our bodies that we need as little disruption as possible in the rest of our lives while we adjust. In other words, when I completely fell apart when my husband got the flu two weeks after our son was born? Totally normal, believe it or not.
4. We really can't help going to bed at 8 p.m. when we're pregnant ... and don't expect us to remember what we talked about right before. Progesterone, which increases 30-fold at the beginning of pregnancy, causes feelings of sedation ... which is why I didn't see my TV boyfriend Jon Stewart for three whole months. And I could have used the mental stimulation; our brains shrink by 4 percent during pregnancy!
5. We want sex as much as he does. We're just a lot more easily derailed than he is. When a guy is in the mood, very little can sway him. When a woman's in the mood, something as simple as cold feet or the fact he left his dirty socks on the bed again can shut that down faster than you can say "not tonight, honey."
6. Throwing a punch isn't our thing ... but that's not to say we're not aggressive. Both men and women have a fight-or-flight instinct in our brains that teaches us to either defend our territory or make a run for it, but women quickly turn that into "tend and befriend" ... we see if we can make a connection with the other person instead. In some people, those known as "grown adults," that can lead to some major teamwork and problem-solving. In others, and I'll call those "Ms. Peaked in High School," it can turn into manipulative behavior or bullying.
7. We can, in fact, flip out over the littlest things. Our brains are more responsive when confronted with small amounts of stress, and get accustomed to high amounts of stress less easily. That's not always bad, either; stress can give us a certain hyper-focus that leads to performing like a champ under pressure.
8. Want to piss us off? Ignore us. We're extremely good at reading nonverbal cues, which allow us to avoid conflict. We'd rather have a full-on shouting match, though, than get the silent treatment.
9. Women's intuition isn't a myth. There's those nonverbal cues again. Guys think this is a superpower (or that we're nuts) when we come away from an encounter with a completely different impression than they do. I can't tell you the number of times I have left a party with my husband and said, "X and Y are totally not getting along" or "They hated the wine we brought" and he has absolutely no idea what I'm talking about.
10. Our moods change with the tide ... the hormonal tide. We get super horny around ovulation, turn into homebodies after the egg flies the coop, thanks to progesterone, and PMS? That can pretty much be ascribed to progesterone withdrawal as the hormone drops in preparation for menstruation -- which can apparently be treated with chocolate and weeping.
I'm not sure I agree with the whole Mars-Venus thing; I think men and women are individuals and any two people may be a lot more alike than different, no matter what their gender. I do think we need to understand that sometimes we just think differently. My husband often tells me that with men, there are no hidden agendas; I don't need to analyze his behavior, or our son's, to discover what it really means because men are, as he puts it, much more simple creatures.
How does the male-female divide play itself out in your house?
Image via Sarah G/Flickr