“The old saying “opposites attract” is often true. The difficulty is once they marry they drive each other crazy.”
― Dr. Steven Stephens
Reading time: 15 mins
In this final post on constructive emotions it might be useful to remind ourselves that the way we experience and process our feelings and emotions is quite different for men and women, boys and girls. When it comes to general, emotional awareness however, we all appear to have far more in common than the traits that can set us apart.
There are key differences in how we manage and react to feelings adjusted through the lens of our emotions. The way we manage them is so different in fact, that we frequently appear to be a different species to our opposite sex. (Why does he go silent? Why does she never shut up?) We need to be cognizant of these differences if we are to make headway in our relationships and our quest for a more constructive emotional life.
Needless to say, in our current climate of gender politics it’s a bit of a minefield; the mainstream media, social scientists and cultural commentators pore over the latest data and put it through the meat-grinder of ideological bias and belief. Despite this, from most people’s experiences on the ground, men and women do have different ways of coping and expressing their emotional world which is probably leaning towards a dominance of genes and biology and environment/sociocultural influences playing a part. How large a part we are not yet sure. One thing is certain, as the role of biology and epigenetics attains its rightful place as a key driver in gender differences the power of suggestion and cultural inculcation shouldn’t be underestimated.
Although we live in a culture that appears to be pushing the ideology that there are no differences and male and female is just a social construct, anyone who has had any relationships, partnerships and marriages will tell you that men and women are hardwired to process emotions in different ways. Yet, we seldom remember this dimension when in the midst of row or the inevitable misunderstandings at work. Undoubtedly cultural influences and a host of personal experiences play a big part, but these differences appear to have an even larger biological component that stretches back thousands of years to our hunter-gatherer ancestors and beyond.
Such evaluations and their conclusions don’t fit well with those invested in feminism and “gender fluid” beliefs since it dilutes the idea that it’s all about stereotypes or the “patriarchal system of oppression.” Ideologues don’t like being reminded that there are compelling arguments pointing to biology as a powerful reason for gender differences with their roots in survival and tribal cohesion. Gender does indeed matter but not to create divisions, rather to help us work together, much like the two hemispheres of the brain – If our brains were only given the chance.