In a relationship, women want closeness. That’s their number one priority. For a woman, if she has no closeness in a relationship she has nothing. She literally can’t be happy and satisfied. Why are men clams? Why do they shut down and deny the women they love what they want and need?

In a relationship, men want control. That’s their number one priority. For a man, if he has no control in a relationship he has nothing.

Men and women operate on these different levels, control and closeness, because of two main reasons. One, it’s simply genetic. We’re born to operate these two ways. Two – and this is the real clincher – we’re taught to throughout our upbringing.

We men are taught from birth to develop these qualities in our relationships: respect, status, strength, power, and independence. These are all qualities designed to produce control.

Do you ever watch little boys when they play? It’s a violent, competitive, dog-eat-dog jungle. Who won, who got the most hits, who killed the most enemies with his Rambo gun, who scored the winning points? It’s a battle to see who is the strongest, the fastest, the best. There is very little talking. Only grunts, car noises, and yelling.

Women are taught from birth to develop these qualities in relationships: connection, cooperation, openness, understanding, and intimacy. Wow, what a difference? These are all qualities designed to produce closeness.

When little girls play, it’s a more peaceful and cooperative environment. They don’t try to kill each other or fight to prove who’s the best. They work together. They consider how others think and feel. There’s a lot of talking and the talking is all focused on getting to know each other. The play of little girls is relationship-oriented.

Eventually, little boys and little girls grow up, but how they operate in relationships stays exactly the same.

(Note: In approximately 20 percent of couples, these roles are reversed.)

On average though, he’s the clam; the strong, silent type. Doesn’t have much to say; doesn’t know how to say it. She’s a crowbar; wants to help her husband open up and share.

What’s the solution? Brief advice: be willing to learn and understand your differences.

Suggested reading: Men Are Clams Women Are Crowbars by David Clarke (from which this post is excerpted) and,  His Brain Her Brain by Walt Larimore.