Story By Kelli Fuqua Hart
From sugar & spice to puppy-dog tails, the brew that makes up a Mars Man and Venus Woman has long been explored, explained and examined. Is it nature or nurture? Perhaps neither. What weird or wonderful phenomenon sets the genders apart? Find out in part one of this two-part feature.
Books have been written about it. Board games have been created based off of the theory. The metaphor of the Mars man and Venus woman, as coined by American author and relationship counselor John Gray, has developed for over two decades. However, the research behind it, the proven psychological gender differences, has been the topic of ongoing studies for centuries.
Relationships between men and women have been written about, debated, studied, turned into movie scripts, made into lyrics, dissected, fought over (literally) and even preached about, all over the world. Why are men and women so different – sometimes disgustingly? Why do we see the world in different colors? Why are our emotions often polar opposite? Even in the same situations? Why can’t he just pick up after himself? Why can’t she just stop talking when the Eagles are third and goal?!
Part of what’s responsible for these differences can be blamed on science. Men and women simply have different brains. Harvard researchers found that certain parts of the male and female brain are different in size. The frontal lobe, the portion of the brain responsible for problem solving and decision-making, and the limbic cortex, responsible for regulating emotion, were larger in women. Likewise, the parietal cortex, which is responsible for space perception, and the amygdala, which regulates sexual and social behavior, are larger in the male brain. Surprised?
These same researchers concluded that women have about 10 times more white matter in their head than do men, whereas men have 6.5 times more gray matter than women. These differences account for the differences in the way men and women think. It all boils down to neurons and gets a little complicated. The point is, some differences between genders are programmed, making the Mars and Venus theory a literal fact of life.
Based on these facts, corporations have been able to make money off of clever marketing angles, down to where a display gets set-up in the store. Writers have sold out at the box office having written sensitive scripts to evoke the ladies and about exploding mega-robots to entice the men. And don’t even get me started about how car manufacturers know just what features to include, making mom’s life easier and dad’s buddies jealous.
The differences between men and women can be quite serious in nature or they can make for one of the most entertaining conversations of your life. With such elevating numbers in divorce rates each year, the question of, “What makes us so different,” is more literal a query for those desperate to seek answers and save a union. For others, it’s a way to laugh about how their best friend and her husband are always at each other’s throat over their lawn or a chance for girlfriends to kick-off ladies night with a “Girls, you are not going to believe this!”
Gray’s book, Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus, is a fascinating journey through the very subject of what makes the two sexes so uniquely different. Thirteen chapters that hit on the topics of motivating the opposite sex to keeping the magic of love alive, Gray lays out a blueprint for how we are both built and how we operate. His book was a best seller and later became the inspiration for the popular board game, Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus.
In this game, men and women are pitted against one another to see which sex dominates in knowing the most about the opposing sex. The men, or the Mars side, sits across from the women, the Venus side, and the object is to guess how the opposite team answered their questions on topics varying from dating, family affairs, in the flesh and more. The questions are sometimes fun, sometimes serious, but always a challenge. So much of a challenge, Ocala Magazine wanted to put the Mars Venus theory to the test.
In honor of May’s Women of Influence issue, we created a 30-question survey, using Gray’s game questions, and allowed women of all ages to participate by answering them. Likewise, these participants were allowed to leave feedback under each question to give insight into their answers. Next month, inside our Men of Influence issue, these same 30 questions will be presented to our male readers for comparison and contrast. Here are the questions from within our Mars Venus survey. We encourage you to take a few minutes and participate.
Who talks more about their relationships?
When a man says, “I’ll call,” he means he’ll call
Within 24 hours
Within 1 week
When he’s ready for another date
The hardest thing to maintain throughout a marriage is
How many times a week would most men want to have sex?
2 or 3
5 or 6
As many as possible
In marriage, it is most important to be
Most men admire other men for
Sleeping with a sexy girl
Dating a pretty lady
Marrying a nice woman
I am most impressed when my date is
If a man thinks about sex every 7 seconds, what are they thinking about the rest of the time?
Seduction lies in something your partner
Women lose the most points with men when they
Men fantasize most often about
Wads of cash
I’m most likely to file for divorce if my partner
Cheated on me
Got into drugs
Lost that loving feeling
Most men wish they could have a
More beautiful woman
Bigger bank account
What comes first in dating?
Women who initiate sex are
It’s most important that my partner make me
The phrase about relationships that best applies to me is
There’s love at first sight
Friends make the best lovers
Relationship problems should be discussed
When they hit a boiling point
After taking time to cool off
In a dating relationship, it’s most important to
Have the same goals
Have the same values
Enjoy the same activities
When a man doesn’t commit, it’s usually because he
Is looking for something better
Needs his space
Is just not ready
I’d like the sex in my life to be
Just as it is now
If I had one wish, I’d choose
To save a marriage on the rocks, I’m most likely to
Go on a second honeymoon
Go to therapy
Take some time apart
For men, the toughest thing about marriage is
Having to share space
The pressure of providing for others
Giving up their independence
The best dads are good
My partner earns the most points for being
I think marriage should be inked by a couple’s
If I had to choose just one vow for my mate, it would be
A woman saying to a man, “Let’s be friends,” means
Let’s be friends
I’m involved with someone else
You’re not my type
I know he/she is right for me by going out with him/her
5 or more times
The feedback we received from women who took the time to answer was that it was not an easy task. Some of the questions required some serious contemplation. Women who were married, especially those who had been married for quite some time, had greater difficulty answering than single women, according to the feedback. After 48-hours of posting the survey, the date was collected and here are the results from Team Venus.
Some of the results were so close and the comments some of the participants left helped to put into perspective the way Team Venus thinks.
For example, Question 2 had staggering results with 59.4%, suggesting that men will call back when they feel like it, after saying, “I’ll call.” One participant commented, “Men don’t really have the ability to stick to it. It’s more like a ‘It was fun, but let me see what else is out there and if I don’t find anything else, I’ll call’.” Other comments on this question included, “He will call when he wants sex, has nothing better to do or wants to whine,” “Men don’t have a time-table. I’ll call could simply mean ‘bye’,” and “Or when he needs something.” Ouch!
According to Evan Marc Katz, self-proclaimed Personal Trainer for Love, summed it up quite matter-of-factly on his blog. Katz says, “Men are honest. You’re just not listening.” He offers some advice by suggesting women not pay attention to how hot the date was, but rather how he handles himself in the next 24-48 hours.
If he really likes you, the second you leave, he’s thinking about seeing you again. If not, he’s cultivating ways to get out of it totally. Men go after what they want. If he likes you, he’ll call you the next day to make plans. However, if he doesn’t like you, his exit strategy isn’t going to be as sugarcoated as perhaps a woman’s would be. No. He’s more likely to send a vanilla one-line text a few days later, tell you how busy he is to avoid any opportunity to make plans, send a text at 9pm, a week or so later, to ask you what you are doing right now or he may simple shut you out totally and seemingly disappear.
But women like to dissect every word, the frequency of texts and even the use of punctuation to try and encode what a man says. It’s simple – men say what they mean.
Question 10 was an interesting one, asking women to evaluate why we lose points with men – be it when we criticize, complain or gossip. Although “criticize” took the lead with 56.5%, “complain” was closely behind with 53.6% of votes. One interesting comment on this particular question was, “Women tend to put other women down these days… men don’t really appreciate a woman who can’t respect others.” Is this true, guys?
Psychology 101 tells us that when a person spouts out derogatory statements about others, centered people around them know exactly who they are speaking of – themselves! Lashing out and criticizing is a defense mechanism and a behavior that truly makes a person appear “less then” the individual they are criticizing. How does this play into relationships?
Men are much less attracted to insecure, bitter women. When a woman is constantly putting other people down, men see through it. They see a precarious, unstable person and who wants to sign up for that?! Women who hate other women are a big red flag for men. It’s a sure sign of a drama-filled future – also not a favorite for men. And when women criticize men, they’re narrowing their chances even further. Ask any man how they feel about “nagging,” and I’m sure you’ll get an ear-full.
In a dating relationship, it’s most important, according to the results, to have the same values. Over 75% of the results on question 19 went to “values,” with only 17.3% going to goals and 26% going to shared “activities.” Team Venus weighed in by saying, “Goals and activities can be negotiated. Values not so much.” Another commenter replied, “Dating is for the intent to marry in most cases.” Seems women strongly agree on this answer.
Couples often confuse common interests and core values, allowing superficial things to inadvertently get mixed in. There is also a difference between values and values in relationships. Oddly enough, men’s definition of values and women’s definition of values are similar. It is finding a good match for whatever particular values you uphold that is key to any successful relationship. Perhaps even the men would agree with this theory?
From the cynical dynamic between Archie and Edith to the fiery passion between Noah and Allie, the relationship between the Mars man and Venus woman is inevitable. The old saying, “You can’t live with them, you can’t live without them is true.” Regardless of your beliefs, be it God, science or some magical sorcerer of the Universe, humans are built with an innate desire to find a companion. Men can deny it, women can refuse it, but in the end, we just can’t get enough of one another.
Part 2 of the Mars Venus story will be featured in the June issue of Ocala Magazine. Stay tuned to see how the men answered our 30-question survey and some interpretations of those answers. It will be a fun look into how the women’s answers compare to the men’s and some further examination into those comparisons!
Married women, 42%
When he’s ready for another date, 59.4%
As many as possible, 46.3%
Best friends, 72.4%
Marrying a nice woman, 52.9%
Voluptuous women, 56.5%
Cheated on me, 63.7%
Bigger bank account, 72.4%
Friends make the best lovers, 66.6%
After taking time to cool off, 69.5%
Having the same values, 76.8%
Is just not ready, 66.6%
Just as it is now, 46.3%
True love, 62.3%
Go to therapy, 76.4%
Giving up their independence, 52.1%
Cherish me, 68.1%
You’re not my type, 69.5%
5 or more times, 44.9%