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The language of sex

I am sure we are all very familiar with the stereotype that women talk more than men. More often. For longer. Just generally, more.

However, what scientific evidence is there for differences in the way men and women talk?

A prominent linguistics professor has researched this area extensively, and she has observed key differences between the ways men and women use conversation. Polar opposites in fact! And it all stems back to our basic survival instincts.

In order to survive, the human species needs to do its utmost to protect their children. Having children that are so utterly dependent for so many years is a real challenge in the animal kingdom. So we have evolved to do whatever we can in order to give our children (i.e. our DNA) the best chance we can to help them survive to adulthood and procreation.

However, the strategy for achieving this differs fundamentally between men and women.

For women, the best chance to achieve this is to be nurturing, to protect the few offspring we have, raise them attentively and ensure they are equipped for an independent life. This is what we are hard-wired to do. For men though, their best method for ensuring their genes make it to the next generation, is to have as many children as they can. To select the best partners and create the most opportunities. They can only achieve this by being attractive to the females and a better ‘offer’ than their competitors. This is what they are hard-wired to do.

So, there you have it. Women are programmed to collaborate, look after each other, nurture and join forces. Men on the other hand are programmed to compete, to try and climb the social ladder and achieve the top, Alpha male, status.

It is no surprise then, that this is seen played out, time and time again, through the conversations we have. Women’s conversations promote intimacy, reinforce close relationships and share their views, worries and hopes. Men’s conversations are more like negotiations, negotiating and reinforcing their status in the group, preserving their differences and establishing their independence. It may come across as banter, it may be directed to a peer’s football team or their dress-sense, but ultimately these ‘put downs’ are just that.

It’s no wonder that dating is so very hard. In fact, it seems pretty amazing to me that we ever get together at all!