Navigating Relationships – Taking a Leaf from Biology

Being in a relationship is one of the most amazing feelings you can have; having someone you can
share your joys and secrets with is unparalleled. At the same time, there is nothing trickier than
navigating a relationship. When two people are in a relationship, differences are bound to arise.
When the disagreements escalate, we sometimes surrender our love to it. The first step to
navigating differences is to accept them. But plain acceptance does not come easy. However, if you
can explain the differences and attribute a cause to them, then the process of acceptance becomes
more natural.

Men and women are inherently different. Biologically, more than 99% of male and female genetic
coding is the same. The 1% variation between the sexes seems small, but it influences every single
cell in our bodies – from the way we register pain to our perception and feelings. Biologically, male
brains are 9% larger in size than the female brain. The anatomy of the female brain does explain
some of the differences we continuously wonder about. The Anterior Cingulate Cortex (ACC) in the
brain weighs options and makes decisions. It can be dubbed as the “worry-center” of the brain. It is
larger in women than men, which explains why women over stress things which men find trivial. The
Prefrontal Cortex (PFC) rules the emotions and tames the amygdala (which is like a wild beast within
us). The amygdala is larger in men, while the PFC is larger in women. So, basically, women are
aboard a feeling roller-coaster while men are aboard a flight and flight roller-coaster. PFC also
matures faster in women by one to two years, and that is why women often feel men are a bit
immature. Women even have a more active gut center and trust their intuitions more than logic,
which is usually a bone of contention when making decisions as a couple. And finally, the
hippocampus- the elephant which does not allow women to forget a fight or a tender moment. All
these differences in the brain structure explain why women are so different from men. There are
some quirks they women may be able to get a hold on, but most of the time, the hormones get the
better of women. Hence, it is imperative that men understand this and resolve conflicts and navigate
the emotional maze women live in with utmost care. Women also tend to read faces and tone of
voice for emotions and states of mind while men cannot seem to spot a feeling unless
communicated by words or physically. Thus, instead of waiting for their partners to comprehend
what’s wrong by their behavior or the look on their faces, women need to learn to articulate their
emotions so that their partners can comfort them or support them.
Similarly, there are notable attachment differences between men and women. Increased stress
levels have been shown to provide an extra kick to male love circuits. By contrast, women rebuff
expressions of affection when under stress. Knowing this little fact may help couples have a better
sex life since they would be able to understand the reason for making or rebuffing an advance by
their partner.
Love, trust, and respect form the foundation of any relationship. However, dealing with everyday life
requires us to sift through our differences and make little decisions every day. Understanding why
we have a different outlook and reaction to various facets of life may help us deal with our issues
better and have more fulfilling, long-lasting relationships.

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