Friday, November 13, 2009

Imposed Stress?

Gutsy Writer, a mom of three boys, had an interesting comment regarding my last blog post.

I'm curious to hear what you think about the difference between boys/men and girls/women, towards stress. I think one of the things that attracts females to males is they are able to remain calm when women "freak" out. So in a way, that's a nice thing for women. Imagine if men said, "I'm worried and stressed about life." Most women worry about everything and if their husband also worried, that would double the stress. So what I'm trying to say is that perhaps boys/men, don't worry as much as girls/women do, and we might be imposing our "stress" feelings on them.

Here's what I think:

I think men and boys do worry. But as I stated in the last blog post, they have a tendency to bottle it up. Men and boys are much more inclined to ignore their stress -- and that, I think, is a dangerous thing.

Women don't necessarily want or need a man who freaks out when the going gets tough. But denying the stress isn't exactly a useful response either. I want my boys to grow up knowing how to handle stressful situations. I want them to learn to recognize their stressful feelings, to view those feelings as a signal to act. Rather than avoiding stressful situations, I want my sons to learn how to proactively handle tough situations. Because like it or not, stress is going to be part of their lives. From money worries to health concernes, stress is unavoidable, I want my boys to prepared to handle it.

What do you think? Do you think women are imposing their version of stress on men? How do you think men and women handle stress differently?


  1. Once again, I realize how backwards Dave and I are from "normal" couples. He's worried about his job. The other day he asked "why aren't you freaking out? You should be really worried about this!" I told him I leave the freaking out to him. I go to the place, 9 years ago, when he got fired and then got depressed. If he had kept that job, or got the job that he thought he was going to get afterwards, we wouldn't be here today with more security (and better friends) than we ever could have had in that place.

  2. I read Gutsy Writer's comment. I could write a book here but I won't take up your comment space.

    In short. I don't believe the way people handle stress can be viewed along gender lines. To me this can be viewed on an entirely individual level.

    I have seen people of both genders be very worrisome and I have seen both be very strong.

    I think there may even be a semantic error in saying men/boys are more likely to ignore their stress. I don't think we ignore stress. I think that we are just expected to put up a front and just get things done. That makes it harder to seek out help when the stress gets to be too great for one person to handle.

    As with most personality traits, it is all shaped by how we were raised and how the people around us all our lives behave.

  3. You both bring up excellent points. People -- male or female -- are individuals, first and foremost, and should be treated according to their own needs and preferences, rather than according to their gender.

    Nate, your point about men being socialized to continue on despite the stress is a good one. Although, as a mom, I have to say that a lot of moms face that pressure too: put up a front, keep going and get things done. Sadly, I think that holds true for both sexes today. We're so conditioned to think we can "have it all" -- perfectly -- and we're so good at making others think that we do -- that it's very, very hard to reach out for help, b/c no one seems to be struggling like we are.

    Personally, I think the world would be a better place if we could all just admit that we need some help.

  4. "Personally, I think the world would be a better place if we could all just admit that we need some help."

    I think you hit it right there.

    I myself usually end up letting things get to crisis stage before I'll admit I need help.

  5. You're not the only one, Nate. Maybe I should add a Heading-for-a-Crisis button somewhere on my blog.

  6. good topic. i think theres a difference between worrying and reacting to an extremely stressful event. in our culture its simply more common and acceptable for women to verbalize their worries openly than it is for men.
    im not saying its right or wrong, just the way it is.
    i dont think either gender holds the corner stone on bottling,ignoring or overreacting. but there are commonalities- cliche's exist for a reason.

    and i think we know enough about this now that we see that this(talking about it) is effective in relieving stress. sometimes women are seen as worrying too much simply because they are verbal about it but the act of saying it out loud actually relieves some of the worry, if a man doesn't understand that then he begins to worry about it too but does not verbalize it so it sits with him until he can do something about it. i think you can see a gender line when it comes to expressing stress and worries and dealing with extreme situations. i dont think theres anything wrong with that. rather than trying to make everybody "even" i think its important to try to understand your self and others as much as possible which is were the importance of individuality comes in.