Girls are from Venus. Boys are from Mars. While that phrase was coined to illustrate just how large the chasm is between men and women — how differently we approach life, and the problems we might encounter — the number of similarities we share are still too numerous to count.

I’m going to try and focus purely on the differences between boys and girls, men and women. This won’t be an article on how humans all endeavour to survive, but it might help you survive a little better by getting more out of friendships and relationships — especially if you interact a lot with the opposite sex! This guide could alternatively be called ‘how to get on better with girls’ or even ‘Seb tells you far too many trade secrets.’

To the girls: don’t take it too personally. This is going to feel like, at worst, that you’ve been sliced and prepared into a series of cutaway diagrams. At best, it’s going to feel like you’ve been stripped bare.

To the boys: remember, every girl is different. This is a guide, not a checklist!

Now, please forgive me for starting with the least romantic part of boy/girl relationships, but it sets the groundwork so nicely. It explains away a lot of the difficulties you might have, as a guy, with understanding a girl: it’s all in their head, man! You can skip the first section if you think it’s just plain unromantic.

The Psychology

Genetically, we’re almost identical, with just 78 genes separating boys from girls. I’m not a doctor, so I’m not going to suggest anything preposterous, but it would seem that those 78 genes would become, in later life, the differences in our physiology, our brain chemistry and ultimately the huge differences we notice between the actions and thought processes of men and women.

Tests would seem to suggest that almost all differences between male and female sensitivity and recall is based on our relative levels of testosterone, estrogen and progesterone. Women, for example, tend to have more vivid memory recall during their period. Women also have a much easier time recalling memories with emotional components (which might go some way to explaining why women, at least from a male perspective, seem to dig up very odd, ‘unimportant’ stuff during their period). It’s also female hormones that make women more sensitive, at least towards dangerous situations or a perceived threat. Couple this with the fact that the heightened testosterone levels in men can cause emotional insensitivity or a complete lack of empathy, and you can begin to see why men and women might fail to get along — especially during that time of the month.

The solution here, gentlemen, is to be gentle. A girl only feels bonded in a relationship by a feeling of closeness inspired by shared feelings and emotions — intimacy, in other words. Believe it or not, watching a sporting event with a girl doesn’t actually cement your relationship very much. In fact, the only real shared ground between men and women is sex. Men love it: it’s active, it’s sporting (‘Maybe I can go for another hour this week!’, ‘Let’s go for 6 orgasms…’) Women love it — at least, most do — because of the bonding, physically and mentally, and it is inherently very intimate.

Orgasms. Girls love orgasms. Oh, and sex too, but really… orgasms.

With the psycho-babble out of the way I can now move into much safer (if not easier!) waters. The wild, wet seas of the Big O.

Orgasm in the morning; orgasm in the evening. Orgasm at work, in the supplies cupboard. Wherever and whenever — a girl wants to orgasm. I’m not going to turn this into a guide on sex (maybe next week: ‘The master geek at work in the bedroom’), so just go and look up some guides on the internet. I think the most vital thing to remember is that very few girls reach orgasm from the ol’ fashioned ‘just stick it in’ technique — men should really know this by now, but in case you didn’t: you have to get messy! And I don’t mean poo play.

As I mentioned before, girls really need intimacy. Unless you make a habit of watching sad movies and sharing your thoughts (some guys with low levels of testosterone are quite happy to do this — like me), sex is probably the only time you will be truly intimate with a girl. So you might as well make the sex good, and do it often!

Girls want to be loved

I’ve learnt that, despite their apparent faults, misgivings or erratic, emotional outbursts, a girl wants to be loved. This desire to be loved is so strong that a girl will often slight her own ethics or personal integrity to get a guy to love her.

It’s important, for the success and longevity of a relationship, that you don’t let a girl sacrifice herself to please you. Women are constantly in search of intimacy (and the love that follows) and will do almost anything to get it from you. Most men are unaware of just how many hoops they (inadvertently!) force their girlfriends to jump through, to earn their intimacy and love. It’s unfair and it destroys the very essence of what makes a person a person: self worth. Sure, you might end up satisfied in the short term, but you’ll be left with a bereft, empty, soulless shell of a girl; a shell with only a few shattered fragments of the girl you first met and hit it off with.

If you’re not ready to love (I’m guessing this is a genetic thing again, stopping guys from saying those 3 fateful words; those 7 immensely heavy letters), you must at least be ready to be intimate. A girl probably doesn’t want to actually hear you say ‘I love you’, she’s more than likely just looking for you to share your feelings and emotions… so try to do that! Watch The Notebook and cry with her. Trust me.

Girls solve problems differently

This is the difference that really counts. Life is, as you know, just a constant stream of making decisions and solving problems. Both men and women are equally good at working out problems — and thus, surviving! — they just take very different paths to the solution. Us men like to take control of the situation and get it solved as quickly and effectively as possible. Women, on the other hand, are more interested in the how and why of the problem — analysing how that thorn came to be there, and how to remove it,  is far more interesting than ACTUALLY removing it.

In a relationship, this means the girl will assess other possible solutions before deciding on the ‘right’ one. For girls, sharing and solving problems together (either with friends, or with their beloved) is of great value — almost more so than the actual doing! This is often a problem for guys, because they seek the self-assurance derived from solving problems on their own! While a guy will often adopt the ‘spray and pray’ approach of problem solving (keep trying until something sticks), girls are far more likely to pool ideas with other people, and learn from other people’s past mistakes. It’s amazing how rational women can be without testosterone clouding their judgement…

In reality, a mix of these two approaches is ideal. Sometimes there just isn’t time for the bureaucracy of female problem-solving — but sometimes there is, and as a guy you should try your best to sit down and discuss problems, and the possible solutions, with the girl. I’m not even talking big, pivotal relationship-shattering problems; it could be something as simple as whose house to stay at on a given day, or which TV show you watch, and which one you record. Discuss it!

Girls want to be wined and dined, and looked after!

I’m probably on dangerous ground here, especially with the ‘looked after’ caveat. Perhaps I should rephrase it as ‘girls like a guy that knows what he’s doing’, which is a very broad phrase, but accurate. A girl doesn’t like a guy that’s uncertain of his role in life — a guy that can’t make good choices and survives poorly is unlikely to be the target of a girl’s affections. In the same vein, girls like guys that know what they’re on about –  ‘confidence’ in other words! A girl likes a guy that knows a nice place to take them out for dinner; she doesn’t like a guy that drives around, uncertain of what to do, or where to go. Girls don’t like guys that mope around in the house, not sure of what to do with their life, or where to go on a date (both of these points is where most geeks fail, incidentally, including myself!)

Perhaps this is more a hint for getting a girl, rather than keeping one, though I would’ve thought that gifts of flowers, jewellery and other tokens of affection are the in-relationship equivalent of ‘wining and dining’.

She really does look fat in that dress…

Yet again, the classic, brute-force problem-solving ability of men (the same ability that first brought meat to the cave!) comes back to bite us on the ass. ‘I think I’m coming down with the flu’ your girlfriend says. ‘Don’t worry honey, I’ll call the doctor.’ Wrong. ‘Perhaps I would look better with larger breasts’ she trickily states. ‘How much does it cost?’ Wrong… so, so wrong. When a woman poses such questions she  is nearly always looking for understanding and emotional support. The problem? Men are far more interested in their ability to solve problems, and quickly. The woman is posing a challenge; the man wants to solve it, further cementing his position of supremacy!

You will only be able to catch these ‘curve ball’ statements after months or years of experience, so you should probably start watching for them as soon as possible… When she says ‘You’re so rash and uncaring!’ that’s normally a sign that you’ve said the wrong thing (even though you thought you were being very caring…)

Tips, tricks and further reading

I’ve given you enough information to make even the most stalwart, embittered ice-queens fall for you (I speak from experience: The American), but I thought I could share a few ‘tips and tricks’ that I’ve picked up in the few years that I’ve been, um, ‘active’, though I’m not going to share my real trade secrets. That’d be like shooting myself in the foot.

  • The compliment game – Try being complimentary. Really damn complimentary and affectionate.  Not so complimentary as to be facetious of course, but if you think a girl (or your girl) looks nice in something, say so! If you notice she’s wearing a new shade of lipstick, and it looks pretty, say so! If she smells nice, whisper it into her ear as you hug tightly. I want to believe that I developed this game with my cousin, but I’m sure someone thought of before me. It’s amazing how far sincere affection goes — and how far it will get you.
  • Be a good lover, really — Again, I’m not going to turn this into a guide on how to have sex, but sex is so important early on in a relationship. While sex is often sublimated towards more creative outlets later on, it’s really the only intimacy that both you and your girlfriend can share in. Later in the relationship, you’ll find a lot of other ways to be intimate… like a good foot massage!
  • Further reading — There are lots of resources on the net on this topic — though, often from very specialised points of view. There’s an excellent condensed version of ‘You Just Don’t Understand’ by Deborah Tannen which looks, very deeply, at the fundemental differences between girls and boys (which, sadly, is of more interest to girls!) If you like the psychology thing, there’s lots of stuff by clinical psychologists offering their opinions on the web, just search around. There’s also data on the statistical differences between men and women — and finally, of course, the obligatory funny (and insightful…) picture.
How Sebastian walked off into the sunset with a big American guy in his arms
Having children wouldn't really be so bad, would it?

Sebastian

I am a tall, hairy, British writer who blogs about technology, photography, travel, and whatever else catches my eye.

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