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Terri Orbuch, Ph.D.

Terri Orbuch Ph.D.

3 Things You Need to Learn about the Opposite Sex

Research-tested lessons for men and women in any relationship.

Stuart Jenner/Shutterstock
Source: Stuart Jenner/Shutterstock

We are alike in so many ways, but when it comes to relationships and love, there's no denying it: Men and women can seem to be complete opposites. What might surprise you, however, is just how numerous and real these differences truly are. And yet, you can't ignore different ways of looking at love if you want to build a successful relationship.

My book, 5 Simple Steps to Take Your Marriage from Good to Great, was based on the findings of my long-term study of marriage. One key finding was that becoming aware of the differences between you and your partner will lead to a stronger and happier relationship in the long run.

3 Things Men Need to Understand About Women in Relationships

  1. Conflict lingers. My study found that women are much more sensitive than men about conflict and problems that arise in relationships. When a woman has a disagreement, it lingers in her mind for two to three days. She replays it over and over. She wants to go over the disagreement the next day. By contrast, when men have a conflict with their partner, once it's been discussed, it's resolved. The fight doesn't linger in their minds. They have already moved on to thinking about something else.
  2. Don't fix things. Men need to understand that when women have a problem and they come to share that problem with you, they might not need the problem to be solved. Men want to repair or fix issues when women raise them. Women often just want you to listen, empathize, and say you understand.
  3. Women connect through talk. Women connect and feel close to others by talking and sharing personal information. Talking time is therapeutic to women. If you want a woman to feel close to you, she needs to open up to you—and you to her. Most men feel connected by doing activities with others (poker, sports), but women feel close by simply talking.

3 Things Women Need to Understand About Men in Relationships

  1. They need affirmation from their partners. Affirmation is the degree to which you are made to feel loved, cared for, and valued or special. Studies show that long-lasting relationships are those in which men feel affirmed. Women also need to feel cared for, but they have so many other people they can get affirmation from—sisters, friends, their mother, even neighbors and co-workers. Men, however, typically do not receive affirmation from anyone besides their partners.
  2. Track what they do, not what they say. Men are action-oriented. They have trouble verbalizing their love. They can learn to verbalize their feelings, but they are more likely to express their love by doing, rather than by saying—like filling up your car's gas tank, picking up your dry cleaning, or starting the coffee in the morning. Romantic? Perhaps not by your standards, but to men, it is what love is all about.
  3. Talk can be a problem. Men don't like to be criticized. And when women bring up the need to change something in the relationship—or in man—men interpret this as criticism. Women may have the best intentions at heart, but men hear that there's trouble and that it's their fault. The next time you are tempted to talk about your relationship, praise or acknowledge your partner's strengths first. Then begin the discussion about necessary changes.

About the Author

Terri Orbuch, Ph.D.

Terri Orbuch, Ph.D., is an Oakland University professor and research professor at The University of Michigan.