A healthy stress response system equates to nearly everything important to health including longer life, a thinner waist, and a better brain.
Social support can reduce our level of stress but a surprising study showed that, when it comes to support, gender matters. Women had a greater decrease of stress when given support from a female friend than from a male romantic partner. Men in the same situation did have an improved stress response when supported by a female romantic partner.
The study was done on adults who were asked to speak in front of a group. Some were given no social support, some received it from a friend, a stranger, or a romantic partner. Support was given on preparing for the speech or about the speakers’ feelings.
In some categories, women’s measured stress response was worse when given support from a male romantic partner than when they were unsupported.
The ‘tend and befriend’ response seems to be more gender specific for women than for men. Work on communication patterns between the genders suggests that women have a need to be heard and men have a need to act or fix something. This study suggests that there may be other factors involved since men did get beneficial social support from women, even though women did not get it from men.
If you really need to talk something out and your husband or boyfriend just doesn’t seem to get it, you might have better luck talking to a girlfriend. Your adrenals may thank you.
To Your Health,