Guest Author - Meredith Ball
Women and men can be nurturing and caring of loved ones, and even strangers. Fathers can be gentle and kind toward their children, and mothers can be supportive and loving toward their children. But, are women naturally more nurturing than men?
While women and men both have the capability to nurture, inherent hormones can make a difference in how this loving ability is expressed. Nature has created different levels of certain hormones in men and women, but, and this is a big but, every individual man and woman is unique. Just because certain studies show differences in levels of hormones does not mean that these studies apply to each specific individual person. As this article conveys the natural biological differences, it is not meant to stereotype or box in any one man or woman. Instead, this article is meant to educate about the differences to improve relations and communication in our everyday lives.
Natural biological differences include higher levels of oxytocin in women than men. Oxytocin is a hormone that acts as a neurotransmitter. This hormone releases the message of calm, warmth and kindness. When a woman or man is stressed, for example, there is a spike in cortisol and epinephrine to help to promote a feeling of calm. Oxytocin is also released, but is released in higher amounts in women than in men. The result is that men donít often feel the same amount of benefit. A man who is stressed may be more likely to respond by escaping the stress or by fighting the stress because the oxytocin released isnít enough for him to completely calm to the point of tears. In looking to escape or fight the stress, a man may be prompted to action such as a physical activity as opposed to talking about his feelings. In contrast, when a woman is stressed, she may feel similar sensations of the desire to escape or fight due to cortisol and epinephrine, but because the oxytocin floods in greater amount she may release her feelings verbally and through tears.
Even though it may appear that a man is not affected by stress or isnít feeling emotion because he is playing a basketball game or watching television, this isnít the case. The expression of these emotions is just different than how a woman may express her emotions. Oxytocin also creates a sense of kindness and nurturing to the point of increased socializing and befriending of others. While a man may turn inward when feeling emotional, a women may turn outward to friends when feeling upset. Again, it is not that men or women have different level of feelings, it is just that the expression of these feelings can be different due to the varying levels of oxytocin.
Naturally, biologically, this difference is complimentary and beneficial to both genders as long as there is understanding. And, as expressed earlier, this difference in oxytocin amounts may not be seen in all men or all women. As we learn more about nature, human nature, it is fascinating to understand the functional and beneficial affects of every part of our bodyís systems. It is even more fascinating to know that we have the ability to learn and understand enough about our differences to bring us closer together.
Next time your husband sets off outside for a run after a stressful day at work, or your wife cries after hearing bad news from a friends, know that this is normal and support each other. Next time your husband starts to cry or your wife throws a plate at the wall, know that this too is normal and support each other. Know that we are all trying our best given the amazing intricacies human nature has given us.