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Vin: All right, this section is about the difference between women and men. And to really answer this question, I’m going to introduce Brian Burke, who is not only a good friend, and trainer, but really the secret weapon behind all this research. Pandora’s Box is a way of understanding the female mind and there really isn’t another project like it.
Obviously there is a difference between how men think and how women think, and to begin with, we’re going to talk about these differences and explore them, and also explore how it affects our approach in dealing with women.
To start out, what I’m going to do is introduce some common misconceptions, just to get everyone on the same page here. All right Brian, so if you went up to a guy on the street and you asked him; what’s the difference between how women think and how men think, most guys would just say women are more emotional; men are logical. Is that the basic difference? And what do you say to a guy like that?
Brian: Yes, sometimes that is exactly what guys think, women are more emotional and less rational. In just having regular conversations with my friends when I’m like off the clock, not necessarily working, and we just talk about women and stuff, there’s a very common perception of women as just being all over the place, you’d call it “willy-nilly”, much of the stuff they do doesn’t make any sense; and that’s absolutely wrong. Women are extremely logical. During the thinking process women follow patterns and they’re just as rational as men are. But, they’re different on a biological level. They’re different on a physical level. They play a different role in the mating process, and in the peer bonding relationship and this different role has forced them to evolve at different survival strategy. And this is going all the way back to before we were homosapiens, and it’s primarily, the source of it, is that we’re sexually dimorphic; meaning the women, their bodies, are very different than men.
Brian: Obviously women have kids and they are the ones that bear a child and all that stuff. They’re also physically not as strong as men; they’re smaller. There’s just a whole list of physical differences that have forced them to have different psychological strategies for surviving, for mating, for finding the best mate. And it’s extremely logical; it’s just as logical as a man. So it’s important to not get stuck thinking that women just don’t make sense. That’s kind of a copout and it’s not useful and it’s not realistic.
Vin: Right. I agree, of course. It is logical. Men and women both have logic; it’s everything we do. But I think it’s often unclear, or hidden, what the logic is; it’s often far below our
conscious awareness. But there is some kind of logic always running to help us survive and perpetuate the race.
Brian: Right, and if you think about it, we wouldn’t be at the top of the food chain, we wouldn’t even be alive, our race wouldn’t have survived as long as it did, we wouldn’t even still be here if the things we did didn’t make any sense.
Brian: Nature, evolution and whatever you want to call it has been shaping us for a long, long time. And it is subconscious, it’s instinctual, but when you take a closer look like we did for this project, you start to see some really interesting things coming to the surface.
Vin: Right. So, we do have some kind of different survival strategy. I mean obviously stay alive, reproduce, eat, and not freeze to death, but on a more complex level, I guess more sophisticated level, we have a different survival strategy. What does it mean exactly and what is the most striking difference between the men’s survival strategy and a woman’s survival strategy from an emotional point of view?
Brian: Well, when we talk about survival, we’re talking about not just survival of the individual, but survival of the offspring, the genetic survival; making sure that the children she has survive. It’s a gene game; we’re talking about genes being passed down. And in a sense you can even see humans like vessels for genes, and it’s really all about the genes getting passed down. For males, because we’re talking about our entire history, I mean pre-human. For men, physical strength has always been really important as far as surviving. For women, they have a different role, and they can’t rely on physical strength, on brute strength, the way that males historically have. What a female does to survive, since she can’t rely on brute strength, is you can almost think of it as strength in numbers; where her strength comes from the association she has with others, men and women. So, also, if you think about her offspring, her child if she has a child, she needs that child to survive and children can’t speak, so she has to have this intuitive sense of what the child needs. And you’ll see this with moms; when their baby’s crying, they kind of know what’s wrong.
And what this means is that women have developed a very high degree of empathy, which means they understand how others feel by feeling that way themselves. And this is fundamental to being able to create strong bonds, strong connections; it’s almost like mind reading. If you can feel how someone else feels, you’re stepping into their shoes. And this is extremely important for creating strong bonds, for creating rapport, a feeling of rapport with another person. It’s also very important when you have a crying baby that can’t speak and you need to know what’s wrong, so that you can attend to that child’s needs. It’s also, if you think about it, it’s also very important as far as finding the best male mate, the guy who’s going to give you the things, as a woman, the things that you’ll need; not just good genes, but is this guy going to stick around after he has sex with you and puts a baby in you.
Brian: And so, she’s going to be keyed into what’s going on inside that guy.
Brian: So, this high degree of empathy, you could just say it’s her way of surviving. It’s her way of coping.
Vin: Right. It’s her logical mechanism.
Vin: Those are the reasons why it is a logical mechanism, is that this empathy, her ability to sense what other people are feeling and feel what other people are feeling; not just know what they’re feeling, but actually feel it herself, that’s what allows her to make decisions that help her own survival. As well, like you said in regards to the baby, with trying to determine if this guys going to stick around. And so, that’s obviously something we notice is if we’re out with guys, a lot of times when a guy goes to talk to a girl, the reason why it doesn’t work sometimes is because her degree of empathy; she can sense what’s going on inside his mind and if he’s having strange thoughts, or if he’s feeling a lot of fear, not necessarily a little bit of nervousness, but like fear or has some kind of hidden resentment, or some hidden agenda, she can sense that no matter what he’s saying. And so, that’s a difficulty that guys have is that they don’t have the empathy. So not only are women using their empathy to sense this guy’s state in saying this guy’s no good, but also, the guys are lacking empathy because they’re having difficulty bringing their energy level up to a place that matches the woman that they’re going to talk to.
Brian: Right, and I can make this really clear for guys, keep listening. This is something I tell my students right off the bat when they all sit down and prepare for the boot camp.
I think most guys are able to look down about a city blocks distance and see a woman walking towards them. And even if she’s wearing a coat or a sweater, they can tell how large her breasts are, what kind of figure she has, whether she’s pretty or not; from a long ways away you can tell.
Brian: That’s where our attention is calibrated to, is her body. Because what we want to do, to put it bluntly, is spread our seed in the most fertile, healthy women we can, so that they’ll have healthy offspring. So, that’s where our attention has evolved to be. Now, if you have that, there’s this myth that like guys are perceptive or aware, they’re just kind of these guys doting around, just dumb right? But, we’re extremely perceptive. We’re just paying attention to different things like the hip-to-waist ratio.
Brian: Now, if you can tell how large a woman’s breasts are from a city block away while she’s wearing a sweater, because you’re tuned into her body, women are tuned into your character, your personality, your energy, your emotions, and what’s going on inside you. So if you can tell that,
if you’re that perceptive, you better believe that when you’re up close and personal looking a woman in the eye, she can tell what’s going on inside you for a very high degree of accuracy.
Brian: Because that’s where her attention is keyed into.
Vin: That’s really great stuff Brian. Now, one thing that I’ve observed, and I’m sure you’ve seen this too, is that people get their identity from different things, right? So for a man, he might get his identify from his career, how much money he makes, how he dresses, what kind of car he drives, things like that. How important is a woman’s identity, and where does she get it from?
Brian: Well, when you talk about the guy’s job and his money and his car and how he drives, I definitely agree that those are all very important to the average guys identify. And even to me, I like to have nice things and one of the appeals of having this job is that there is some status attached to it and my ego gets a little boost out of that, and that’s what it really is all about; what I just said, status. So when you’re talking about a guy’s car, his job, and all that, what’s underlying all those things is status. And men are wired to pursue status, to elevate their status. Men are more aggressive, more proactive, and more concerned with their rank.
And for women, there’s the chase for status is a very solo adventure. It’s your status, and if everyone else is trying to raise their status, they’re essentially in competition with everyone else, or at least to some kind of degree.
Brian: For women, status isn’t as important as interconnection. And so, it’s not just as men we grow up learning to chase status. There are numerous studies showing that boys naturally do this; they naturally compete and have a harder time sharing than the girls, although from age 2 and 3 and up. So it’s not that this identity is, it is learned, but it’s also we’re born with it, and women have evolved this high degree of empathy, because interconnection is where they get their power and how they survive. So as a man, having this drive to pursue status and to improve your rank and to compete, you have to understand that underlying drive that permeates pretty much your whole life. A woman has the same level of drive, only it’s not for status, it’s for interconnection. And stemming from her biology and from her psychology, this then becomes how she identifies herself. So a woman, her level of self esteem is based on the number and quality of connections she has with other people. And one thing that’s interesting, all the research I did, an interesting thing that happens when women get caught up in the man’s game of pursuing status, like as far as career, I’m not trying to say that women can’t be successful, it’s far from it. A lot of times in very demanding jobs, women perform better than men for a number of reasons. One of the main reasons is their ability to interact with other people effectively. But what ends up happing a lot of times is that women get into their 30’s and 40’s, and they’ve been career women for so long, if they’ve been neglecting their interpersonal relationships, they will become very depressed, disillusioned, and want to work less hours, maybe change careers, or do something where they can interact with people more. So this is a very fundamental part of a woman’s self esteem and her identity is to have these quality connections with other people.
Vin: Right, and from those connections, they form their identity as a part of, I have all these connections in my life–I have this person, this person–and they are the sum of those parts you could say.
Brian: Yeah. When this concept started really taking shape in my mind, what I actually pictured was, and this might sound strange, a bunch of shapes, like a little collection of shapes; like squares and circles, and all these shapes arranging themselves as sort of a circle, and in the middle they imply another shape that’s implied by the shapes around it. And that shape in there, it only exists because of all these other shapes around it; that’s kind of like a woman’s identity.
Vin: Right. Yeah, that’s a real good analogy.
Brian: It can be hard for a guy to understand this. Number one, because he’s not like this. And number two, because he doesn’t have that degree of empathy that a woman has.
Brian: So it’s kind of a catch 22 where men and women, yeah we think differently, but men also have a hard time understanding women, because they don’t have that empathy. There is actually a biological basis to this as well. I was actually discussing this project with a friend of mine yesterday, and he brought up this comedian he had seen. I had no idea who the comedian was, but he said and essentially the skit went like this: He had two different pictures; he had a picture of a man and a picture of a woman, and there was like a cutout where you could see their brain. So he could see the man’s brain and the woman’s brain. And the man’s brain was like a filing cabinet; so he is very compartmentalized, or he has fishing over here, and the wife over here, and basketball over here, and fun over here, and everything is kind of separate and clean and distinct. And the woman’s brain was like a big tangled ball of yard. Now, women’s brains aren’t tangled, but was really interesting was this comedian totally understood something that has a biological basis. Men and women have different brains. Our brains have two hemispheres.
Brian: They have the left and the right. And there is a membrane in between, and that membrane, it’s not just a wall, it actually serves a purpose; there’s neural activity in this membrane itself. And women have a very thick, developed, highly connected membrane; where the left and right are extremely interconnected. Men have a much thinner membrane, and the left and right are less connected through this membrane. So the left is connected to the right, whereas with women, there are all these connections going back and forth between both sides. The way this manifests is, and this is really apparent in men with extreme male brains; for example, men with Asperger’s Syndrome, or certain forms of autism, where a man can understand the definition of love, or the definition of sadness or any emotion; he can read it and understand it rationally in his left brain. But then when his right brain experiences this emotion, he has a hard time connecting the definition or the word with that emotion. And so this is why you’ll find a lot of guys having obviously heard women complain about men being emotionally distant or emotionally absent or detached, and they literally are detached to a degree; meaning the left and rights are detached. So it makes a difference in how you perceive the world and how you feel.
Vin: Right. That’s good. Good. So, is that why women will be more upset sometimes? Like sometimes with a woman, something bad will happen to her friend and she’s upset, she’s actually crying for her friend, whereas I love my friends, but you’re not going to find me crying because my friend is upset. Do you know what I mean?
Brian: Right. Women are no less illogical or irrational than men, they just have a different survival strategy. It also holds true that men are no less emotional than women; we process those emotions differently, we experience them differently. So for me, if a friend is having a hard time or there’s some kind of struggle that he’s going through, I won’t feel sad or emotionally like nervous or upset, but mentally I will be preoccupied with that, think about that, and try to come up with a solution for him.
Brian: So, that’s how I would deal with that emotion. Whereas what a woman will do, is she will actually feel the body feeling of anxiety or distress and she won’t be as inclined to think of a solution, she will instead just feel.
Vin: Feel the emotions of a friend. Right!
Brian: I don’t want to say revel, because that has a positive connotation, but she will kind of immerse herself in that emotion so that she can relate to what her friend’s going through, whereas I would want to try to fix that.
Brian: That problem that the friend is having. We both care; I care, the woman cares. We both feel some sort of impulse to do something, we both have a response; we both have an emotional response, but it’s what we do with that response that differs.
Vin: Right. Cool. So, what affects do all these have on a personality? I mean why is all this stuff relevant and how does it change a woman’s personality in comparison to a man’s personality?
Brian: It’s really interesting. You would think that this would affect personality especially because men associate being emotional with weakness. But what I’ve discovered, and doing this project has given me a new sense of respect for women, because being more empathetic is actually a strength of theirs, and to be able to go though life feeling the pain and the stress of others, that takes a strong person. And after feeling so much to be able to bounce back is a challenge. I mean a lot of the things women go through, as men if we went through this, I think we’d have a harder time bouncing back than women do. So, let me explain.
Being highly emotional and experiencing emotions of others is not a weakness. Strategically it’s really more of a strength, because it helps her cope with the world in the way that fits her based on her biological condition. And I don’t mean condition in a negative way, I mean like the way she’s made to bear the child.
Brian: Having a smaller frame, less muscle mass and so forth. But it also indicates an emotional strength, because feeling the stress of others means you feel stress. So, as she internalizes the pain of others, she’s experiencing emotional stress, emotional trauma. And also, women because of this empathy, they’re also more likely to take the blame for interpersonal conflict. Women are very quick to ask themselves “what did I do wrong there?”, “how did I make things bad?”, or “what part did I play in this conflict?” Whereas men are real quick to blame the other person, say “oh well he’s a jackass”, or “she did this or that”. But women will internalize the blame, they experience the pain of others, and over time, this becomes an emotional weight; this leads to stress. And so it’s kind of this underlying trauma, and in a lot of cases very intense trauma, as far as like sexual abuse and stuff, stuff like that. But underlying her whole life, there’s this higher degree of stress and trauma, but women are able to deal with this, and cope with this, and bounce back. So that’s something that I think is really admirable and definitely something that needs to be recognized, not as a weakness, but as a strength.
Vin: That’s good. So, we kind of covered the differences and the fundamental differences between men and women. These are basically; empathy, taking her identity from the connections with other people and having strength from being able to deal with the empathy and the stress that she gets from the people surrounding her. So what are the main similarities now between men and women that we can actually leverage for our understanding of female psychology? Go ahead.
Brian: Yeah, one of the main similarities is. Well, if you think about just humans in general, men and women, we’re both human. And one of the great parts of psychology that’s kind of a beacon as far as a theory is Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs.
The basic needs are like food and shelter, and so forth. But the highest need, the ultimate need we’re all striving for is self actualization; where we feel like, as an individual, I feel like I am the man that I want to be. So there’s this ideal I had in my mind and no matter where I’m at in my life, that what I have in my mind is my ideal, I’m not there yet. And so it’s just kind of a direction that we’re always striving for.
Brian: And the self actualization is really about what you want to contribute to the world, what you want to contribute in this life, what you want to, not only experience, but express. So, the kind of person you want others to see you as. And an easy word to use is just contribution, okay? So men and women both thrive on social contact. We’re social beings.
The reason why we’re at the top of the food chain, and why we’ve survived, and why we’ve evolved out of the African, and why we’re here today is because of our high degree of sociability to interact. And so, fundamental to the human condition is social contact and helping others; that’s why we’re here and that’s who we are, and we’ve evolved that way for ions. This means that being part of the group, part of the tribe, part of the community, means that you have to contribute, okay? So, we’re wired with this innate desire to contribute.
Brian: So as men, as a man, a very obvious example is like, let’s say something needs to be fixed and it’s going to take several people to do, or like moving a couch or something, helping a friend move. I don’t want to be that guy who is kind of like sitting there letting everyone else do the work. I want to be part of the team effort. I would just feel horrible, just like I would feel like a loser just sitting on the side letting the other guys do the work.
Brian: Another obvious example is playing on a team. If you’ve ever played a team sport, yeah it’s easier to sit on the bench; it’s nice and relaxing and you can sit down, there’s no work there. But, say you’re playing on a football team; you want to be on the field, you want to be playing. You might get hurt, you’re going to get tired, there’s going to be pain, okay? You might lose, there’s emotional risk there too; you might lose and feel bad. But you don’t want to sit on the damn bench. You want to play. You want to contribute.
Brian: And men feel this and women feel this; both I think feel it to the same degree. But what we want to contribute is different. What that innate desire to contribute is fundamental to all humans.
Vin: Right. Yeah, I think another real fundamental is the need to feel appreciated. Just like, guys like it too. I mean it’s good getting compliments for doing something good, for being productive, for getting a high score on an exam or something, or doing well like in a team sport.
Vin: Women like it too.
Brian: It’s interesting, a man wants like a trophy? Like Napoleon, there’s a quote by Napoleon, I know I’m misquoting, but it’s something along the lines of; men will die for a strip of ribbon.
Brian: Or men will risk their life for a strip of ribbon, or something like that. And so, that’s how a man wants to be appreciated; with like a thing that he can touch and look at, and say I earned that. For a woman, a sincere compliment saying you did a great job, or thank you, that means the world to a woman, and that’s one reason why a woman will start to go astray in a relationship. Why she might cheat, or have the impulse to cheat, is because she feels like her man doesn’t appreciate her anymore. And the obvious mistake that guys always make is they try to buy their woman back. Like when Kobe Bryant, you know he got caught cheating with that woman in the hotel.
Brian: He bought his wife a ridiculously expensive ring. It was on the news and everything. It was no secret.
Vin: And it’s going to be like the opposite, have the opposite effect.
Brian: Yeah. I’m sure to some degree that woman are very attracted to Kobe Bryant’s money, but I think that men end up wasting a lot of their hard earned money trying to buy a woman, when all they really need to do is tell her that they appreciate her.
Brian: That’s free and it means a lot more.
Vin: Right. Cool.