Men Are From Mars and Woman Are From Venus

This is a book that has been on my radar for many years and I finally managed to read it. It's a shame that it took me so long, as it really could have saved me and my partners many a frustrations in the past. But, its never to late, I guess.

John Grey warns in the introduction that he generalises about men and women. Some will ring truer to you than others because we all are unique individuals.

The three most powerful points I took from the book were;

  • Men and women are different by nature

  • To get along, we should make a step towards the other without compromising our true nature

  • Men care about competence and achievement, women about feelings

The author says that some men deny some aspects of their masculine side and women deny some aspects of their feminine side (most workplaces reward masculine attributes).

1. Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus

The author says that men and women are of two different nature. To get along well they need to stop expecting the other to be the same and understand each other instead.

The most common complaints of women is that her man;

  • Don’t listen

  • Is inattentive

  • Is no longer romantic

  • Is less centered

  • Divorcing reason: he doesn’t give back to all her giving

Men would complain that his woman:

  • Overreacts

  • Make a big deal out of nothing

  • Withholds sex

  • Is unreasonable

  • Divorcing reason: no matter what I do she’s never happy

Fears for men. Men's deepest fear is of being incompetent and not good enough; they are afraid of giving as he risks failure when giving. Fear increases when he cares, so he might stop giving when he cares the most.

Fears for women. Women can be unconsciously afraid of being worthy of love and she’s afraid of getting too much. She’s afraid she won’t be supported and unknowingly pushes away the support she needs, which makes him feel rejected and turns him off.

Men are empowered; when they feel needed and trusted, so women can feel free to show she needs him. Women are empowered; when they feel cherished and cared for.

2. Mr Fix-It

John Gray says that men care about abilities and women care about feelings. Men value power, competency, achievement and their sense of self is defined by their success and ability of achieving their goals. Achieving their goals is a way to prove their competency.

Similarly, men want and need to have their abilities recognised and appreciated and resent having them ignored or called into question. When a woman offers to help it’s often an offence for the man as that’s a vote of distrust in his abilities. Women instead want to be listened instead. They don’t want to be alone and like cooperation and appreciate assistance.

Men offer solutions when women complain, but women are not looking for solutions. They want to have their feelings recognised and appreciated. They don’t want to be left alone when hurt or when dealing with a problem.

3. Men Go To Their Caves And Women Talk.

When dealing with problems men tend to withdraw, go sit by themselves and avoid communication. Women do the opposite. They communicate to find a solution. When the two sexes communicate, women often communicate for the sake of communication and for the sake of talking. Men like to talk in a solution oriented fashion instead. For a man, there must be a point and a conclusion in the conversation.

What a woman can do to help her man is to let him know in advance the outcome of the story then go back for the details. Avoid keeping him in suspense.

4. How To Motivate The Opposite Sex.

John Gray says that a man’s instinct tend to be self-centered while a woman’s instinct is to care and look after others, even if that means sacrificing herself. If both gender give in to their instinctive behaviour, the man gets all the care and attention and the woman gets nothing. One win, the other loses, which bodes badly for the relationship long term.

Once the two genders enter into a relationship instead they should meet in the middle. The man should learn to care for the woman and a woman should learn to give less instead of endlessly giving and then resenting for not getting back.

She must remember to express her desire for her needs. And the man should express his desire to help. This way, they both win.

5. Speaking Different Languages.

John Gray says men communicate literally while women communicate more dramatically and “artistically” as a way to more fully express their feelings. Men like to sort through their thoughts privately before communicating. Women can get antsy as he steps back and need reassurance he still cares.

Women indeed prefer to sort through their thoughts “as they speak” and tend to put all her concerns out there. Men can feel under assault when she does that because it’s a threat to who he is. He need to know she still values him. When facing challenging situations the man likes his woman to tell him he “got this” as that’s a tacit compliment of his skills. Conversely, he feels undercut if she offers assistance or sympathy. The woman wants him to show concern instead, she feels snubbed if he doesn’t offer any assistance. She doesn’t want him to tell her the problem is “easy” as that would be a way of brushing off her feelings. Men also have a tendency to jump in with solutions as the woman talks about her problems. He wants to show his skills and resoluteness. But the woman doesn’t want to hear solutions, she wants first of all to be heard. The man should then offer a solution only after he has fully listened to her.

6. Men Are Like Rubber Bands.

Men alternate between need for intimacy and need for autonomy. John Gray says that men have periods in which they withdraw and want to avoid any communication. Women don’t understand this because they only pull back if they feel unloved or if some serious issue arises. Women then can be unconsciously afraid he’s avoiding her or going on for ever and keep prodding him for a reaction. The situation can easily escalate.

She should instead allow him to withdraw and give him the space he needs. When women don’t do it, they upset the cycle, “torture” the man and destroy the relationship. On the other hand he can reassure her that he will be back (men’s cycles are short anyway).

Once the man springs back he’s ready for intimacy and romance again. But she might be hurt and need her time to rebuild back up. That can be another cause of friction. When both partners can be supportive and understanding in their low periods, they will find their partner also finds it easier to do the same.

Let him pull away and he will come back quicker.

7. Women Are Like Waves.

Women Have Slower Up & Down Cycles. They periodically enter into depression and can become negative. When a woman is at a negative point of her cycle she cannot give love. She may then revisit old issues, even if they have already been discussed and resolved.

With his support she will grow to trust the relationship more and she’ll go through waves in a milder, more loving way.They will demand to men that they pay attention and provide support. Some men are stumped sometimes by the time it takes for the women to get back to their usual loving ways. But they must avoid trying to rush her or criticise her because it’s a natural female behaviour.

The author suggests that if a woman’s needs to be heard and supported overlaps with the man’s need to be on his own, she should turn to her girlfriends then.

8. Discovering Our Different Emotional Needs.

John Grey says that men and women also have different emotional needs, and providing our partner with our emotional needs will not necessarily fulfill our partners. Men look for trust, acceptance, appreciation, admiration, approval, and encouragement. Women look for caring, understanding, respect, devotion, validation, and reassurance

Top 3 mistakes women make in relation to men’s needs:

  1. Tries to improve him or his behaviour with unsolicited advice

  2. Complain about what he hasn’t done and doesn’t appreciate what he has done

  3. Corrects him and his behaviour as if he was a child

Top 3 mistakes men make in relation to women’s needs:

  1. Minimise the importance of her feelings and needs

  2. He listens but then blames her for bringing him down

  3. After listening he says nothing and leaves

The author says there’s a knight in shiny armour in every man and a girl looking for a knight in shiny armour in every woman. And they can find each other.

9. How To Avoid Arguments.

Grey goes on to say that arguments often balloon out of men’s failure to pay sufficient attention and women’s expressions of disapproval. Disapproval will get men angry and defensive.

When arguments arise verbal attacks can be destructive for the relationship. Men usually charge the hardest as they want to “win” the argument, using strong and aggressive words. The woman backs down to avoid never ending escalation and the man feels he has “won”. But she hasn’t changed her opinion, so the following “peace” is phoney as the underlying issues have not been fixed.

To avoid that communication degenerates into fights the author suggests men strive to listen without raising their defensive walls and women should communicate without criticising their partners.

Women often unknowingly start arguments by not being direct when sharing feelings. For example when a man is late the woman might be worried or bothered. But when he shows up she asks rhetorical and useless questions such as “why didn’t you call” or “how can you be so late“. The man feels attacked as that’s disapproval to him.

When a woman expresses frustration or disappointment the man gives explanations without allowing her to vent. What she feels though is that he doesn’t care about her feelings. For her to hear his reasons, she needs him to hear her reasons first. It takes two to argue, but one only to stop it

10. Scoring Points With The Opposite Sex.

Gray says women give unconditionally and proactively. Love for women means anticipating someone’s needs and they don’t stop giving. Men only give when they feel that their efforts will be appreciated and often are not good at guessing when it’s time to give unless they are specifically asked. And they tend to stop giving when they feel they have done their part.

When it comes to giving, men value results while women appreciate more the thoughts that comes with it. So women appreciate lots of little gifts while men tend to value the big gifts more.

When men and women fail to understand these dynamics, the relationship can easily sour. When the woman does not appreciate the man giving he may stop giving altogether while she continues to give unconditionally expecting to eventually get something back. However as she get nothing back, she starts feeling unloved and grows resentful.

To help meet each other’s needs men should give in many little ways without being asked and learn that if their partner does not ask doesn’t mean she’s happy. Women on the other hand should talk clearly if they are not happy and should reduce their own giving or even ask things back and never forget to appreciate him.

Here’s a simple one for women: “thank you for listening”. With men giving and her appreciating, both will gain.

11. How To Communicate Difficult Feelings.

The author says that to ease unresolved conflicts men bury themselves in work while women might seek perfection and lapse into depression to avoid feelings of anger.

He suggests that writing is a great way of expressing negative feeling in a controlled manner instead of exploding with our partners. Once we write and work through our feelings we will be better prepared to explain in a clearer and loving way.

12. How To Ask For Support And Get It.

Women should not come to expect their partners can read their mind and anticipate their needs. They should ask for help but ask without making it seem like a demand because men hate doing things when they are demanded. Indeed giving excessive instructions will make him feel like a slave.

Women have to ask with tact because any request to be more or get more makes the man feel inadequate. Questions with the form of “could you” or “can you” sound to him like questioning his abilities, so “would you” or “will you” are better. And it’s best to let him choose the way and time he does it.

It’s OK to ask him when he’s busy, but be prepared for him to postpone or say no. A woman should also come to understand denials as a request also implies the possibility of a no.

13. Keeping The Magic Of Love Alive.

John Gray says that there’s a conundrum in love. The more we feel in love and safe, the more turbulences of the past can surface as our minds “let go”. Wade through them. They’re only a sign that your relationship is great.

The author says that love changes over time. The bliss of the beginning does not last forever and our normal faults emerge for what they are. But by sticking through the highs and lows the initial bliss becomes a more mature form of love which gets stronger as the years go by.


What I took from it.

Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus is all about deep insights with direct practical applications. A headline summary for me is that woman should, when telling a story, give him the “executive summary”, a one sentence of what happened. Then flash out the details. Men will get impatient if the it takes too long to get to the main point.

The man must let the woman vent first before giving explanations or she’ll feel he doesn’t care.

Any book saying “men are”, “women are” is bound to be generic. It’s not necessarily a bad thing and generic statements can be helpful. You just need to be aware of the limitations. Personally I found it a very good book. I found myself laughing at various points as it related to my relationship with my wife. This is a book that has changed my behaviour in dealing with my partner; and if a book makes you rethink your own behaviour, that can only be a good thing.

My Rating