©Arlene Taylor PhD

Females tend to have long-term friendships with both genders and have more friendships after middle age. Generally, the individuals are more important than the type of activity. They may perceive that the encounter was less than satisfying if both the quantity and quality of conversation fell below their desired standards.

Males generally prefer the company of other men to that of women. Often gravitate toward companionship encounters (e.g., select an activity and then ask someone to join them in the activity) where the type of activity is at least as important as the friendship. Males don’t have to converse during a given activity to perceive that the encounter was satisfying.

Studies show that most females enjoy being mothers more than most men enjoy being fathers. However, females tend to suffer less from the empty nest syndrome. They can find it a relief to be able to do other things. Females spend more time holding and soothing daughters than sons.

Most males usually look forward to having children although they rarely have any idea of the impact a baby will make on their marriage and way of life. Males tend to touch newborn sons more than newborn daughters.

Humor Moment

A man and a woman were discussing the “rules are sacred” perspective of the male brain. “I have the list of rules,” the man said, grinning.

“The list?” the woman asked.

“Yes, the list,” he confirmed. “The ten rules.”

  1. We need the toilet seat up. If you need it down, put it down. You don’t hear us complaining about your leaving it down.
  2. Birthdays, Valentines Day, and anniversaries are not exam situations to determine if we’ve found the perfect gift. Ask for what you want. Don’t hint. Just say it! We cannot read minds. Our lack of mind-reading ability is a genetic thing, not evidence that we don’t care about you!
  3. Dates are extremely energy-intensive to track. If you want us to pay attention to specific dates, mark them on the calendar. In addition, if they are really important to you, remind us frequently ahead of time. We’re happy to remember, we just need the reminder!
  4. Christopher Columbus did not need directions, and neither do we. We’ll still get there faster than he did!
  5. Sunday and sports go together like a full moon and tides. Accept it. Whenever possible, say whatever you have to say during the commercials. By the way, shopping is not a sport and never will be.
  6. Yes or no are perfectly acceptable answers to almost every question you can think of. And if you ask a question for which you really don’t want an answer, expect an answer you really don't want to hear.
  7. Bring us a problem only if you want help solving it. That's what we do—fix things. Get sympathy from your girlfriends.
  8. A headache that lasts for 17 months could be a definite problem. Make an appointment with your doctor. And while you’re at it, check your oil. Please!
  9. If we ask what is wrong and you say nothing, we will take your word at face value. We may think you’re lying, but it’s too much hassle trying to help you figure it out.
  10. Ask us to do something or tell us how you want it accomplished. One or the other! If you already know the best way to do it, why not just do it and get it over with?

After perusing the list for some moments the woman said, “I have some definitions. Their purpose is to help men understand women’s speech more readily. Ten definitions,” she repeated.

  1. Fine. This word signifies the end of any argument when women feel they are right but can't stand to hear you argue any longer. It means that you should shut up. By the way, this is not the word to use when you’ve been asked to describe how she looks. To do so will likely lead to one of the arguments mentioned above.
  2. Nothing. Actually this word means the opposite from its usual definition. It means that you need to be alert and pay attention. This word is often used to indicate that a woman feels like she’d like to turn you inside out, upside down, and backwards—at the very least! It is usually the signal for an argument that will last at least ten minutes and end with the word fine.
  3. Go ahead. This phrase often means the opposite from its usual definition, too, especially if a raised eyebrow accompanies it. These words do not indicate permission to do something. On the contrary they represent something of a dare! If you mistake them for permission, the result will be that the woman may get upset over nothing, and you’ll experience a ten-minute discussion that will end with the word fine. On the other hand, this phrase without a raised eyebrow does not indicate permission, either. Rather, it signifies that the woman really means, “I give up,” or “Do what you want because I don’t care.” It is frequently preceded by a few seconds of raised eyebrow and followed by nothing and fine. Not to worry. She’ll likely speak to you again in ten or fifteen minutes when she cools off a bit.
  4. Ten minutes. These words actually define the space of approximately half an hour. It is the equivalent to the ten minutes that your sports broadcast is going to last before you take out the trash, or let the dog out to do its thing, or come to bed. There shouldn’t be anything complicated about this.
  5. A sigh. Although not actually a word, sighs are an important form of communication, and one of the few non-verbal sounds that are common to female speech. Men also frequently misunderstand them since sighs are rarely used in male speech. A loud sigh indicates that the woman is beginning to wonder if you are a complete idiot, and asking herself why she is spending her time arguing with you over nothing. A very soft sigh, on the other hand, suggests that the woman is momentarily content. Males are advised to remain still and hold their breathe in the hope that the moment will last for a long time.
  6. Oh. Generally, the word “oh,” especially when followed by almost any other statement, signifies that big trouble is about to break over the landscape of your life. For instance, you might say, “I told your mother what you were up to last night.” If the woman opens her mouth and says, “Oh,” and looks like she is going to say anything else at all, do not walk—run from the room. Eventually she may say she is fine, but don’t expect any level of quality conversation for a minimum of two weeks.
  7. That's okay. Pay close attention to this one. This phrase constitutes one of the most innuendo-laden statements a woman can make to a man. It indicates that she wants to think long and hard before deciding what the penalty will be for whatever you have done. This phrase is frequently used in conjunction with the word fine, accompanied by a raised eyebrow. Don’t be misled. Once she’s had sufficient time to plan, you may be in for some mighty big trouble. Refer to “Oh” above.
  8. Please do. First of all, this is not a statement. It is an offer. Avoid confusing the two. When she uses these words, a woman is giving you the opportunity to come up with an excuse for what you have done. Sometimes this is a chance to get into even more trouble! The good news is that if you handle this correctly, perhaps you can avoid hearing the phrase, that's okay.
  9. Thanks. If you hear this word, don't faint and don't look for hidden meanings. The woman is simply indicating her appreciation. Just say, “You're welcome,” and let it go at that. Avoid shaking your head in amazement for the next hour. It’ll take more energy than it’s worth.
  10. Thanks a lot. Although you may not realize it at first, this phrase differs dramatically from the word thanks. A woman tends to say thanks a lot when she is majorly (if not monumentally) ticked off, usually at you. Sometimes this phrase is followed by a loud sigh. If this occurs, it is usually a signal that her feelings have been hurt in some way. It is usually unhelpful to ask what is wrong after hearing a loud sigh. At that point in time, she will likely tell you nothing (see above definition), and if you can avoid an argument, it is prudent to do so.

I found it amusing to note that the definitions took more words than the rules. Both lists are, of course, tongue-in-cheek. They do point out how much adrenaline people can pump, how much energy they can expend, and how much ado they can often make over nothing! There is a better way. Understanding more about gender tendencies can offer options for more functional behaviors, especially in relation to cross-gender friendships.