Saturday, July 23, 2011

The "Tend or Befriend" Phenomenon

The gap between Mars and Venus expands... Biologically speaking, men and women deal with stress in very different ways. Maybe that's not shocking to you, but there's new research to support it. Women tend to override the well-known "Fight or Flight" stress response with a new theory called "Tend or Befriend". (The linked article has more information on the theory, research and researchers)

Think about it in every day terms...

MEN, when you're stressed out and done with the arguing portion of the event, you isolate yourselves. That may be by sitting in front of the tv or heading to a local bar and sitting solo. Rarely do you see a stressed out woman anchoring a bar stool after an argument...

WOMEN, when we get stressed, we either clean and organize the house or call a friend to talk about it or to distract us. The research shows that estrogen increases the hormone Oxytocin. (That's the hormone that calms you and eases stress.) Makes sense that we seek out other estrogen-dominant individuals to get a grip on life again, huh?

I find this new research so intriguing because it has so many implications and applications if you're willing to open your eyes and accept the reality of more gender-based differences.

For starters, it affirms every instinct I've ever had about how vital my female friendships are to my life!! Thinking back on every challenging, sad or frustrating event in my life, I have pushed through and come out on top because of the amazing women I've been privileged to have in my life... Those women include my mother, grandmother, aunt and the various friends I've made along the way. On the other hand, the things in my life I've had the most difficulty overcoming were those when one of those important women were taken away or in some way or other the cause of my stress. Friends, as if you don't know already (even if solely based on my "friend" tattoo), you play an integral role in my sanity!! ...and you're fun as hell!! ;) I don't know what I'd do without my FABULOUS girls!! <3 (You know who you are!)

This research also helps me to realize that it's okay when the men in my life need to get away for a little while when they're stressed. It's okay when they don't want to talk about it. We deal with things differently and as long as we communicate enough to know each ohter's boundaries and triggers we'll keep getting along just fine!

Tend or Befriend... Who knew?! ;)

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