Men need to be alone when they are upset or stressed. They will retreat to the man cave or some other place, away from others, where he can focus on something else to forget and de-stress.

Bridge on Belle Isle

A woman will feel that a man’s retreat is him pulling away from her; she wants to nurture and ask questions – which only makes it worse for him as he is trying to forget to begin with.

Bridge the Gap

Again, I get to go to science to explain this one. When our body experiences stress, regardless of the source, certain chemical reactions kick in. As with everything else, it’s different for men and women. While the same three chemicals are released, they are released in different quantities. Cortisol, epinepherine and oxytocin are released in both men and women, but men, by nature release less oxytocin.

This leads to two things – more cortisol and epinepherine being released by men, and more oxytocin being released by women. The outward reactions reflect this difference.

The Man

As I have said numerous times, men are problem solvers. Along with that, they are not usually intuitive about social cues, like eye contact. A man can look right at you, with signs of distress all over your face, and remain clueless. When he says “I didn’t realize you were angry”, he’s not just saying that to make you more angry, he really may not have realized.

As competition and performance based creatures, men have learned to compartmentalize or even repress what they perceive to be negative emotions – things like stress, sadness and even anger. A man would prefer to be left alone when he is feeling this way, so he won’t understand your need to nurture him, and in fact, it will annoy him.

The Woman

For women, it’s all about the relationship. The higher level of oxytocin, combined with estrogen and other reproductive hormones make women nurturers. Women like to make people feel better, soothe and comfort. A woman’s self esteem is often so wrapped up in relationships that a small ding in a relationship will cause a similar, or greater, ding in self-esteem. A woman will comfort and nurture another to the detriment of their own physical and mental health.

The end result of this is that women often suffer from an over-demand of their nurturing and an undersupply of caring for their own mental and physical health. Women feel strung out, exhausted and stressed. Once this kicks in, women go for more nurturing and reaching out to others. Talking soothes the anxiety and helps to process all of the emotion of the situation.

The Bridge

As is the case with many of these communication dilemmas, the best thing for you to do when you are stressed is to seek out a good female friend for the talking part. This helps you feel more relaxed and takes care of your need to nurthre. It also eliminates the emotion of the situation for you, so that, if your man is the cause of your stress, or you want to talk with him about it, you are able to do so with a clear head and less emotion.