Sunday, April 13, 2008

am i more masculine or feminine?

Merritt, you're


That means you're 40% masculine. When we compare your results with other men it shows that you are somewhat more feminine than average.

What does it mean for a man to be feminine? Femininity in Western culture involves approaching life in a happy, optimistic way as well as showing warmth and compassion to others. But femininity is more than just being cheerful and caring.

The chart above shows your overall percentages of masculine versus feminine qualities. Whether you have a greater proportion of one or the other, or whether you have roughly equal masculine and feminine qualities, this balance of qualities says something about the type of gender identity that you possess.

In this report you'll learn more about your own gender identity, and what qualities were used to determine how masculine and feminine you are. You'll learn how you scored on each of the 12 dimensions that comprise your masculinity and femininity scores, and how your scores compare to men and women in general. Based on your particular gender identity, we'll help you understand how to more successfully communicate with others.

So what's the difference between sex and gender? In psychological terms, sex refers to our biological categories of male and female while gender refers to the socially constructed ideas and beliefs about how men and women "should" behave. Masculinity can be defined broadly as the behavior society expects from males, and how a "true man" should think, feel, and act. Likewise, femininity can be defined as the behavior society expects from females, and how a "true woman" should think, feel, and act. A person's gender identity is the extent to which he/she takes on or possesses the qualities and behaviors of each gender as defined by popular culture.

This is not to say that females don't possess typical male qualities and vice-versa. In fact, that's what this test is about! Overall, everyone has some of the qualities we will cover below; it's just the extent to which people possess them that varies. It's also important to keep in mind that much has changed in Western culture in the last three decades, and men and women are playing roles and developing behaviors that were not necessarily open to them in the past.

It is not uncommon for men to have higher masculine scores than feminine and for women to have higher feminine scores than masculine, but there are also many people whose masculine and feminine qualities are roughly equal to one another. When a person's masculine and feminine qualities are balanced they either have high levels or low levels of both. Each configuration has its own strengths and weaknesses.

Your test results indicate that you're Androgynous.

The four possible gender types:

Highly Masculine: People who are highly masculine tend to be very action and/or results oriented in the world, but may not be extremely emotionally expressive.

Men who are highly masculine often encounter a good deal of social approval, but may have a low degree of role differentiation. In other words, highly masculine men often find their sense of self strongly tied to what they do. The potential down side of this is that if a highly masculine man is having major difficulties related to work, there aren't many other roles in his life that can provide the same sense of satisfaction and boost to his self-esteem.

Women who are highly masculine may be very accomplished or successful in career domains but may encounter some social disapproval for not demonstrating enough traditional feminine qualities. Masculine typed women may also encounter the same difficulties as very masculine men of having their sense of self tied primarily to action-oriented areas of life such as work.

Highly Feminine: People who are highly feminine tend to be very relationship or people oriented, but may not be extremely results focused.

Women who are highly feminine typically encounter strong social approval, but in some settings highly feminine women may have difficulty commanding authority or being taken seriously. Highly feminine women tend to invest their sense of self in their various relationship roles (e.g., daughter, friend, wife, mother, co-worker). If one of these roles is causing significant stress or difficulty, feminine women can usually draw support from other established relationships and roles to maintain a positive sense of self.

Men who are highly feminine often have very strong interpersonal skills, but may encounter some social disapproval for not exhibiting enough traditionally masculine qualities. Feminine typed men also often benefit from having a variety of relationship roles in their lives just as very feminine women do, and can usually maintain a positive sense of self in the face of life difficulties or challenges.

Androgynous: People who are androgynous have both strong masculine and strong feminine qualities. Androgynous people tend to be both action and people oriented, and are usually able to successfully take on a diverse range of roles that cross gender-role boundaries.

Sex-role Transcendent: People who are sex-role transcendent have both low masculine and low feminine qualities indicating that gender is not a category that is critical to their sense of self. In other words, sex-role transcendent people develop and maintain their sense of self through roles that are not tied to gender stereotypes.

Tickle has conducted several studies combining the classic psychological approach to gender identity and our own independent research to measure your masculinity and femininity. Here are the traditional qualities of masculinity and femininity:


Sports Fan Cheerful

Decisive Compassionate

Leadership Gentle

Aggression Understanding

Analytical Timid

Principled Individualist Trusting

In addition to these major areas, there are several significant, but less central qualities that comprise the traditional definition of masculinity and femininity. These include things such as:

Masculine: Feminine:

Focus on action, moving forward and just doing it.
Focus on calm, relaxed interpersonal interactions.

When it comes to personal safety, attack, defend, and run only if necessary.
When it comes to personal safety, run, defend, and attack only as a last resort.

Ability to use maps and find the way.
Ability to seek help when needed.

Creative interests in the direction of building structures.
Creative interests in the direction of artistic endeavors.

A tendency to mind one's own business.
A tendency to get involved in others problems.

Smiling almost exclusively as an expression of emotion.
Smiling as an integral part of day-to-day interaction, regardless of personal emotion.

Highly circumscribed physicality among friends. Shaking hands is manly; hugs are not.
High degree of latitude for physically expressing affection to friends. Hugs or kisses are okay, but a handshake is unusual.

Furthermore, Tickle's research shows that certain behavioral stereotypes still hold true when it comes to masculinity and femininity. In fact, when considering all of the other aspects that go into a person's gender identification, these stereotypes still stand out as indicators of femininity and masculinity. Highly feminine people are significantly more likely to say that they like the color pink and that they wear lipstick than are people who are masculine. Highly masculine people are much more likely than those who are feminine to say that sex on the first date is okay and that they lift weights. While society's expectations about the roles that men and women can play has certainly changed in the past several decades, our notions of what is truly masculine and what is truly feminine remains somewhat tied to very traditional beliefs. Masculinity is related to being strong, virile, and powerful, while femininity is related to being soft, attractive, and warm.

Are You More Masculine or Feminine?

Gender Balance & Identity Types

What Makes You Masculine or Feminine?

What Traditional Masculine Qualities Do You Possess?

What Traditional Feminine Qualities Do You Possess?

Gender Specific Communication

The History Behind the Test

For More Reading

In this section, you'll learn how you scored on six major characteristics that comprise a traditional view of masculinity. Each of your scores is plotted in the chart below, alongside the average scores for women and men.

Sports Fan

A key component of masculinity is about being physically active. More than that, highly masculine people are drawn to sports. While a feminine person might do aerobics, a masculine person plays individual or team sports. Within this aspect of masculinity are the qualities of both physical prowess and competitiveness. The attraction of watching, playing, and winning at sports is a uniquely masculine quality.

You scored relatively high in the area of liking sports compared to other people. You place importance on putting your body through its paces and may particularly relish competition. When making choices about how you spend your time you tend to opt for activity over inactivity, although watching sports may also be enjoyable to you. You may have one or two favorite sports, or you may like a wide variety of sports, but one way or another, you definitely like getting into the game.


Making decisions quickly and easily is a traditionally masculine quality. This dimension is associated with a certain boldness, responsibility and clarity of purpose. There's no wishy-washiness, dithering, or second-guessing. When a decision is needed, whether it's easy or difficult, stepping up and making it is the masculine approach.

You probably have no trouble making decisions. You're someone who almost always has your wits about you. You are generally capable of dealing with difficult, high-pressure situations and handling the consequences of your actions. In fact, you may even seek out roles and situations that demand your sharp decision-making skills.


Ever heard the phrase "alpha male?" A desire to be the top dog, the big cheese, or the head honcho is another important aspect of masculinity. This traditional quality of masculinity involves not only being in charge, but also a sense of determination, a desire to distinguish one's self, and to be successful.

You seem to have moderately strong leadership abilities. You're not driven to always be in charge, although you could probably handle a position of power if it came your way. You're interested in success, but it's not the only thing you value. It's most likely that while you may find yourself in leadership positions, you don't tend to actively pursue them.


Although masculinity is a psychosocial construct, describing what a given society considers to be appropriate behavior for males, there is at least one aspect of it with clear ties to biology, and that is aggression. Biologically speaking males have higher levels of testosterone than females. High levels of testosterone are related to aggressive behavior. Does that mean that all men are aggressive and that women are not aggressive? No. It means that, in general, males are more likely to exhibit aggressive behavior than females and because of that the societal definition of masculinity has developed to include aggression. More specifically, a tendency to react to conflict with hostility and even violence is highly masculine.

You tend to be fairly low in aggressiveness. When provoked you are not likely to respond with any kind of violence. You'd much rather resolve an explosive situation by talking it out or simply by walking away. It probably takes a lot to make you really angry. You don't tend to initiate conflict, nor do you tend to escalate a conflict when one arises.


The analytical aspect of masculinity is characterized by logic and reason. It involves a love of complex thinking and a desire to find the root cause of almost any problem. In contrast to the sports playing quality of masculinity, the analytical quality is all about the mental game.

You are highly analytical. Complex thinking and problem solving are activities in which you are likely to engage regularly. You tend to enjoy stretching your mental muscles. When someone asks you an explanatory question, such as "How does that work?" you may be prone to give a more detailed answer than necessary. You are generally drawn to roles and situations in which you can exercise your strong analytical skills.

Principled Individualist

The principled individualist component of masculinity is reminiscent of the American cowboy. This is a quality or set of qualities about being one of a kind, and not just another face in the crowd. It's also about living by a certain code of honor, and standing up for what you believe in.

You are unique. You probably feel that you are very much your own person with a strong sense of self, and that there is no one quite like you. You are likely to have a clear sense of right and wrong, and seek to conduct yourself in a way that lives up to your own high standards. You have an internal ethical system and living according to your own rules is what matters most to you. Your approach to life tends to be positive and hopeful.

Are You More Masculine or Feminine?

Gender Balance & Identity Types

What Makes You Masculine or Feminine?

What Traditional Masculine Qualities Do You Possess?

What Traditional Feminine Qualities Do You Possess?

Gender Specific Communication

The History Behind the Test

For More Reading

In this section, you'll learn how you scored on six major characteristics that comprise a traditional view of femininity. Each of your scores is plotted in the chart below, alongside the average scores for women and men.


As the label suggests, this quality of femininity is about presenting yourself to the world in a positive, energetic, upbeat manner. In addition to suggesting a generally happy demeanor, this aspect of femininity is about seeing the silver lining and maintaining an optimistic view even in the face of adversity.

You are usually a very happy, cheerful person. You tend to have a warm, outgoing manner, and your energy and enthusiasm can be contagious. Other people enjoy your sunny disposition. You have a strong ability to find the up side of almost any situation and you tend to see the good in other people.


A key element of femininity is caring and compassion. This quality is about relating to others and, more specifically, it's about the extent to which a person has a softhearted, tender, and sympathetic approach toward others. Showing kindness and affection are also parts of this traditional feminine quality.

You tend to be an extremely caring and compassionate person. Your warmth and kindness show in how you treat the people around you. You probably cry at sad movies and may even get a little misty-eyed during those sweet, sentimental Hallmark commercials. You tend to be comfortable expressing affection. You'd probably like to help every person and take in every stray that crosses your path, and you're likely to seek out roles and situations in which you can express your strong care-giving skills.


The gentle aspect of femininity is about a quality of warmth and softness. It involves having a pleasant, easy-going nature, and not approaching things in a harsh or rough manner even in times of conflict or stress.

You are probably very gentle. You tend to conduct yourself in a manner that demonstrates your warm, easy-going nature. It usually takes a lot to make you angry, and you're good at turning the other cheek. It's not that you don't get angry, but when you do you generally work to resolve it and let it go. You're more likely to want to talk things out than throw a fit or throw something. You don't tend to seek out conflict and may actively avoid intense, stressful situations. You're likely to be most comfortable in environments, both physical and emotional, that are quiet, serene and tranquil. You have unique skill at creating such peaceful environments for yourself and others.


The understanding quality of femininity is somewhat similar to the masculine analytical quality, but in this case the object of analysis is people. Being understanding involves having empathy, and an ability to take in another person's perspective. It's about having insight into why people do what they do.

You generally understand people very well. You are uniquely skilled at seeing things from another's perspective, and can empathize with people's problems and struggles. You tend to have a strong sense of intuition and insight into people's motivations and goals. Among your friends you're likely to be the person that everyone goes to with their problems. You would probably make a good therapist. It's likely that you seek out roles and situations that call upon your ability to understand others.


The timid quality of femininity involves not wanting to speak up in some settings. Being timid includes feeling shy at times, and having a hard time voicing an opinion in some circumstances. There is a reluctance to express strong negative emotions.

You are not very timid. In a crowd you tend to stand out. You generally enjoy attention from others and may even seek the spotlight. You're fairly self-confident and are not easily embarrassed. In a group setting you can usually jump right into the conversation. You can be very social and outgoing. When you first meet someone you're self-confidence helps you feel comfortable and you're probably good at making the other person feel comfortable as well. When you feel strongly about something, whether it's positive or negative, you tend to have little trouble expressing your feelings.


The trusting quality of femininity involves believing things too readily. This includes a tendency to not only believe what other people tell you, but also to have a difficult time discerning when someone is lying. This characteristic involves a level of optimism and belief in others that approaches gullibility.

You are moderately trusting. When a friend tells you something you are most likely to believe it. However, when the source of some new information is unknown to you, you might believe it, but you may also approach it with a healthy dose of skepticism. You're not always good at telling when someone is lying. You might recall a time or two in the past when you discovered that you had been deceived. You want to see the best in people, and usually you have a fairly positive, optimistic outlook on life.

Are You More Masculine or Feminine?

Gender Balance & Identity Types

What Makes You Masculine or Feminine?

What Traditional Masculine Qualities Do You Possess?

What Traditional Feminine Qualities Do You Possess?

Gender Specific Communication

The History Behind the Test

For More Reading

All of us have multiple social identities that contribute to our sense of self or who we are. These identities are drawn from the various roles that we play in life such as friend, student, professional, spouse, parent, and so on. Gender identity is one of the most fundamental of our social identities because it stems from the basic biological distinction between males and females.

As noted earlier, sex typically refers simply to the physiological categories of male and female, whereas gender refers to the socially defined attributes of masculinity and femininity. Because gender categories derive in part from the distinction between the sexes there is typically a strong correspondence between one's sex and one's gender identity. In other words, most men tend to be masculine and most women tend to be feminine. The two other gender types that we've presented in this report, androgynous and sex role transcendent have developed mainly because of how society has changed in the past several decades. In addition, men and women have begun to assume roles that were traditionally played by the other sex.

Communication is a central aspect of almost all relationships whether they are with family, friends, or romantic partners. Conversation is also one of the most common areas in which masculine and feminine styles are distinctive and potentially conflicting. Less is known about conversational styles of those who are androgynous or sex role transcendent because the available research in this area looks primarily at sex differences rather than gender differences. Based on Tickle's own research on gender, we can give you some idea of how each gender type communicates.

Now that you know more about the four gender types, masculine, feminine, androgynous, and sex role transcendent, see if you can spot the communication styles of these types in the following scenarios.
Scenario 1
Gretchen: My friend Zane is having a party tonight. Do you want to go with me?

Andrew: Uh, is it going to be a big party?

Gretchen: Probably, Zane has a lot of friends.

Andrew: Will anyone I know be there?

Gretchen: If not, you'll meet some new people. Look, I'm going either way, so just let me know what you decide.

Andrew: I'd like to see you tonight, but I'm just not sure I'd be comfortable in a big group of people I don't know.

Who is more masculine, Gretchen or Andrew? Who is more feminine?

As the initiator of this conversation, Gretchen is taking a leading role. She makes her points clearly and succinctly, making it known that she has already decided what she plans to do. Andrew, on the other hand, is questioning and unsure throughout this exchange. When he does state his preference, we learn that he's not entirely comfortable in a large group setting where he doesn't know many people. He seems to be somewhat timid. In this situation, Gretchen is the more masculine communicator, while Andrew shows a more traditionally feminine style.
Scenario 2
Jessica (smiling): Good morning! How are you doing?

Amanda (smiling): Great, thanks for asking. How was your birthday celebration?

Jessica: Oh, it was awesome. I got this home theater system with surround sound and I had so much fun hooking it up and playing with the various settings. Once I had it working, I watched "The Lord of the Rings" DVD with the director's notes and found out all kinds of stuff about the making of that movie. Did you know that all three parts of the trilogy were filmed simultaneously?

Amanda (laughing a little): That's really fascinating, Jess. It sounds like you really had fun. You're so good with gadgets.

Can you see the slight differences between these two styles? Jessica shows her cheerful side with her smiles and her warm greeting. Jessica also reveals some analytical tendencies with her description of her new electronics and the details of the movie she watched. Amanda demonstrates cheerfulness with her smile, and she goes on to show us some caring qualities when she asks about Jessica's birthday and is supportive of Jessica's interests and enthusiasm regarding her new toy. In this example, Jessica can best be described as androgynous while Amanda is more traditionally feminine.

Scenario 3
Jeff cuts in front of Joe to stand with his friends in a long line of people waiting to see a popular new movie.

Joe (loudly): Hey, what the hell do you think you're doing?!

Jeff (quietly): I'm sorry, I'm just joining my friends.

Joe: Yeah, well, the rest of us have been waiting here for over an hour and you can just get to the back of the line, buddy.

Jeff: I understand, I don't want to upset anyone. I'd just like to wait with my friends.

Joe: If you don't move to the back of the line I'm going to throw you to the back myself!

Joe's obviously not too happy about Jeff cutting in line. Joe has a decidedly aggressive approach to this conversation, particularly since he seems willing to resort to violence to make his point. Jeff, on the other hand, responds in a rather mild, gentle, and understanding way. Joe demonstrates a highly masculine style, while Jeff shows a more feminine approach.

So, how did you do? Were you able to spot the gender styles in these conversations? Although these examples are somewhat limited, you may be able to use what you see here and what you've learned in the rest of this report to get some idea of the gender identities of your own communication partners.

Stereotypical Male and Female Communication Styles

In the fields of communication and linguistics, the majority of research on gender specific communication has focused on communication between men and women without considering the psychological aspect of gender identity. Although this research may not shed light on exactly how androgynous (the integration of both masculine and feminine qualities) and sex role transcendent types (not identifying strongly with masculine or feminine characteristics) converse, it can help us understand how men and women typically or stereotypically communicate. Since, as we've noted before, most men tend to be masculine and most women tend to be feminine, we can take from this a sense of how masculine and feminine types are likely to converse.

Prominent sociolinguist, Deborah Tannen, notes that generally for men, "conversations are negotiations in which people try to achieve and maintain the upper hand if they can, and protect themselves from others' attempts to put them down and push them around. Life, then, is a contest, a struggle to preserve independence and avoid failure."

In contrast, women tend to approach the world "as individuals in a network of connections...Conversations are negotiations for closeness in which people try to seek and give confirmation and support, and to reach consensus. They try to protect themselves from others' attempts to push them away. Life, then, is a community, a struggle to preserve intimacy and avoid isolation."

This does not mean that men don't care about establishing connections or that women don't care about achieving status; it means that these are not the central goals for men and women respectively. These very different approaches and goals can often lead to misunderstandings and conflict.

Communication Breakdown

When women express that they have trouble or difficulty with something, they are typically looking for understanding and sympathy in the form of a related experience. For example, when Laura told her friend Susan that she hadn't been sleeping well since her mother passed away and just couldn't seem to concentrate on anything, Susan said, "I know. When my father died I was a wreck. I would forget to eat. I couldn't sleep for more than a couple hours at a time, and when I did I had very vivid dreams about childhood memories of my father. It took a long time for that stuff to settle down and for me to feel somewhat normal again." Susan's response made Laura feel better.

When Laura told her boyfriend Jason about having trouble sleeping and concentrating, he said, "Why don't you try taking sleeping pills for a while?" Jason's response upset Laura. She didn't feel that he was being understanding or empathetic. Some women may find that they are often frustrated when men do not respond to their problems with examples that show they can relate to the situation. They may resent the masculine tendency to offer solutions to a problem rather than a similar experience.

Likewise, men can sometimes be frustrated when they talk about a problem and women do offer an example that illustrates that they can relate. Not only does the feminine response sometimes not help the situation, but it can even be offensive, as in the following example:

Evan: Work is so hectic. I'm really stressed about this big project.

Kate: Yeah, my job is a nightmare right now too. Since they let two people go I'm doing twice as much work as I used to.

Evan: Are you trying to minimize my problems?

Kate: No, I'm not! I was just saying that I understand how you feel.

Evan was offended by Kate's reaction to his stressful situation because he perceived she was competing with him. He felt that she was saying that his troubles were inconsequential compared to her own difficulties. Kate, on the other hand, was hurt and surprised by Evan's reaction to her sympathy. Why would he feel put down? She perceived the conversation as strengthening the connection between them, and was trying to show her support and understanding by describing the similarities of their situations.

Evan would probably have been happier if Kate had said: "That really sucks, but I'm sure you'll get through it okay, you always do." Or even, "That's too bad. Have you thought about exercising a little more to help relieve the stress?" The first of these responses validates Evan's current experience and his status as someone who can handle a tough situation. The second also validates his current experience and uses the more masculine approach of offering a solution.

In both of the conversations above, the speakers have good intentions. They are trying to be kind, understanding and sympathetic. When we understand how men and women generally approach and interpret these types of conversations, we can respond in a style that best fits the audience we're addressing. In other words, you can use the style to which they will relate. Also, when someone with a different communication style responds in a way that doesn't feel supportive and sympathetic, we can step back and remember why their approach is different, and that even so, their intentions are still good.

Who Talks More? Who Listens More?

Picture a married couple in the kitchen at breakfast circa 1950. She's at the stove cooking eggs and he comes into the room, kisses her on the cheek and sits down at the table. She starts telling him all the little details of what she has to do that day. He says, "Uh huh." She brings their plates to the table and sets them down, asking, "What are you up to today?" He's reading the paper. He says, "Just the usual," and goes back to reading the paper. She's got her arms crossed over her chest and frowns at the back of his paper. The stereotype depicted in this scenario is that women or feminine types are constantly trying to get men or masculine types to open up and talk more.

Now, picture a casual cocktail party around 1970. A group of men and women are talking about politics. One man says there is no point in voting because all politicians are crooks. Another male at the party jumps in and says that some crooks are better than others. A third man argues that if you don't vote you've got no right to complain when the country starts going to "hell in a hand basket!" The women listen attentively, some nod, but not one speaks up. In this image it is the men or masculine types who are dominating the conversation and the women or feminine types who are curiously quiet.

So which picture is true? The answer is neither and both. These examples are based on stereotypes and as such are over-generalizations of real world behavior, so in this respect neither picture is completely true. From another perspective, both are true. Research shows that in private settings women or feminine types tend to do more of the talking. In public settings however, men or masculine types talk more often and for longer periods.

Daniel spent the day with his friend Eric and when he got home his wife, Audrey, asked, "What's new with Eric?" Daniel responded, "Nothing."

Later it came out that Eric and his girlfriend had just gotten engaged. Audrey was upset and hurt that Daniel hadn't told her.

Audrey: When did he propose?

Daniel: Last Saturday.

Audrey: Where did he do it?

Daniel: I don't know; some restaurant I guess.

Audrey: Did he give her a ring or are they picking one out together?

Daniel: I don't know.

Audrey: Have they set a date?

Daniel: I don't know.

Audrey: Didn't you talk about it?

For some men, "nothing" may be an automatic response at the start of a conversation. Also, men are often much less concerned with the small details than are women. From Audrey's perspective, Daniel was shutting her out. If Audrey had talked with Eric she would know the details about which she is asking, and she may find it hard to imagine that Daniel and Eric didn't discuss such details. Sharing the specifics of one's experience is an important aspect of the feminine communication style. It serves the goal of connection and intimacy. From the masculine perspective, these details simply aren't that important.

When the setting is public, the picture changes. Mark and Jessica have just met at a party, and they have the following conversation:

Jessica: So, what do you do?

Mark: I lead outdoor team-building groups.

Jessica: Wow, that must be a lot of fun.

Mark: It is. I love the physical part of it, but there's definitely a mental aspect as well. It's important to get the group to work together and for each person to feel that they're contributing to the group's success. When it all goes right each person feels that they've pushed their own physical abilities a little farther than they thought they could, and the group feels like more of a cooperative team where everyone has more trust and understanding for each other than they did when we started.

Jessica: Have you been doing this for a long time?

Mark: Well, I've done outdoor stuff all of my life. I didn't realize until after college that I could make a living doing something I loved so much.

Mark goes on to describe how he got into his field, and Jessica listens attentively.

Mark and Jessica are conversing with some common masculine and feminine styles. Men tend to give information; they typically believe that the best way to strike up a conversation is to come up with an interesting piece of information. Women, in contrast, tend to ask questions about the other person and to listen actively by nodding, smiling, and generally encouraging the person to whom they are listening.

Although we usually rely on the communication style that is consistent with our sex, it is possible to learn and use, occasionally, the other style. In private settings, men can try to offer more specifics to show a female partner that he feels connected to her. Women can try to accept that not sharing details may have nothing to do with how close or connected he feels to her. In public settings, men may be relieved to learn that they don't always need to bear the burden of making the conversation interesting and that it's okay to just listen. Women who find themselves too often in the role of listener can practice moving out of that position and putting forth ideas and opinions without waiting for someone to yield the floor.

Understanding What the Other Half Says

People with conversational styles that are highly masculine or highly feminine can benefit from learning each other's style. The masculine style teaches that conflict and difference need not necessarily be a threat to intimacy. The feminine style teaches that interdependence need not be a threat to freedom and independence.

Understanding the different ways that men and women use language makes it possible to change your own way of speaking, when you want to. But even without changing your style, simply understanding the different approaches can improve communication and relationships. When people realize that their conversation partner has a different communication style, they are better able to accept differences without blaming themselves, their partners, or their relationships. There is no one "right" way to talk, to listen, or to have a conversation.

When people don't see style differences for what they are, they may draw conclusions about personality ("you're irrational," "you're insensitive"), or about intentions ("you don't care about me," "you don't respect me"). When we understand that "you have a different way of showing you care" or "you're not trying to control me" there is room for adjustment or negotiation. You can ask for or make changes without assigning blame. Understanding the ways that people with different gender identities approach conversation can bridge the "gender gap," and genuinely open the lines of communication.

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