Why can’t women just get along?

Men are from Mars women are from Venus.

We’ve all heard this saying before. Mars’s rough, rugged and dry terrain reflects men’s straightforward and simple nature. Venus, on the other hand, hot and explosive, represents the vast complexities of a woman’s emotional framework.

But despite all of the multifaceted qualities women possess – such as being intimate, nurturing, caring, and emotional – we still find it exceptionally difficult to get along with each other in comparison to men. While these characteristics seem very positive on the surface, they actually fuel the catty, jealous and competitive tendencies women are so well known for.

Men seem to lack many of the softer qualities innate in women, yet bond in a way no woman could ever understand, unless she were a man.

Author Norah Vincent dressed like a man for 18 months to find out how men truly behave with each other and to explore the many mysteries of gender identity. Vincent put her life on hold to jump into the size 11½ loafers of Ned. Dressing like Ned allowed her to penetrate into all-male communities like a bowling league, strip club, monastery and men’s therapy group, where she saw what she decided were the genuine and brotherly commitment men share with their friends, versus the cold and empty relationships women develop.

In describing how males are much more warm and embracing than females, Vincent says most female exchanges are fake and meaningless rituals.

“Most of the women I’d ever shaken hands with or even hugged had held something back, as if we were in constant competition with each other, or secretly suspicious, knowing it but not knowing it, and going through the emotions all the same,” writes Vincent, in her book Self-Made Man.

Psychotherapist Dr. Phil Harry says competitiveness is the main characteristic that holds women back from forming genuine relationships. While men are also competitive, their laid-back nature allows them to put their feelings on the back burner, unlike women whose chemical makeup forces them to take things to heart and hold grudges. Hormones like progesterone and estrogen “stir feelings up” and cause them to magnify.

The type of competition men and women participate in also varies.

As men compete on the football field, or in an arm wrestle while they chug a beer, women’s biological makeup forces them to compete over a more serious issue. Women don’t have many chances to reproduce in their lifetime.

“They are competing for the gene pool. She chooses who she mates with and she chooses the one she thinks is the strongest so her offspring will survive,” Harry said. “Women will guard their mate or their position.”

Men have many years to reproduce in comparison to their counterparts, so there is less competition between them. Instead of bringing each other down as women do, they’re more likely to hold one another up.

“Men are friends. It’s like a brotherhood that strengthens them and protects them against what they have to do to be a man in the community they’re living in,” Harry said.

Unlike feminists who try to coach women about solidarity, men have less need to teach each other that brotherhood is powerful; it’s a quality they are more likely to have included in the package.