Emotional Health Differences Between Boys and Girls
Written by Pliro
Mar 3, 2017 Last updated: Mar 6, 2017
We often mistake being emotional with “showing” emotion. For this reason, it is a common misconception that girls are more emotional than boys. True, girls are better at showing their emotions and don’t mind tearing up once in a while. However, boys are just as emotional, if not more, even though most of them don’t know how to express their feelings. The difference lies in what makes girls and boys emotional and how they both process different feelings. Here are a few ways in which both genders differ in emotional health.
The brain is made up of gray matter and white matter. The gray matter areas focus on specific functions that require action and information processing. The white matter connects the processing centers, including the gray matter, of the brain with one another. Gray matter is utilized seven times more by male brains whereas white matter is utilized ten times more by female brains. For this reason, boys are more likely to be better at focus oriented tasks or activities. Girls tend to be better at multi-tasking since their brains can process various sets of information at the same time.
The same neurochemicals are processed by both, male and female brains. However, they are processed to different degrees according to the particular sex. Three of the more dominant of these are testosterone, estrogen and oxytocin. Males process more testosterone which is our sex and aggression chemical, due to which they tend to be more physically active and aggressive. Females process more estrogen, which helps them grow and reproduce. Additionally, the process more oxytocin, which is a bonding chemical in terms of relationships. For this reason, girls are often more emotional when it comes to people they are close to.
Why are women accused of having mood swings or hormonal outbursts during their periods or pregnancy? The answer lies in the fact that women tend to have a deeper limbic system. This means that they are more empathetic and emotionally connected to others and themselves than men are. However, it may be the cause for girls being more susceptible to depression and anxiety, along with various other hormonal shifts.
Ever wondered why girls thrive on sharing personal stories and secrets whereas boys would rather indulge in a sport or world issues? Since girls process more of the relationship bonding chemical, they are able to communicate their feelings more effectively. Not only do they prefer talking things through, they also tend to pick up on non-verbal cues better, such as tone and gestures. Boys find it difficult to pick emotional cues which is why they prefer that an issue is either clearly spelled out to them or not discussed at all. Therefore, girls might naturally be more empathetic than boys but they might also be quicker to judge or analyze another person.
During times of stress, girls tend to calm themselves down with the help of external support as a result of strong group bonding. Inversely, boys tend to have the “fight or flight” response to stress. The scientific explanation for this is in the hormones. Oxytocin is released during stress and when girls process estrogen, it tends to elevate oxytocin levels which is why girls find calm in nurturing feelings. On the other hand, processing testosterone reduces the effects of oxytocin which is why men prefer to handle the stress on their own.
Pain is perceived differently by boys and girls. The female body typically requires more morphine to reduce pain to the same level as the male body. The amygdala is the area of the brain that is activated during pain. The right amygdala is activated in boys and the left is activated in girls. The right controls functions of external nature whereas internal functions are controlled by the left. For this reason, girls tend to perceive pain more intensely than boys and are therefore, more vocal about it.
In conclusion, we see that girls and boys can not process emotions in the same way. This is because their entire genetic structure is different. There may other reasons for a boy not paying attention or a girl getting easily upset. It may be because neither of them can control how their body and brains work. Therefore, think more sensitively before asking a girl to give you your space. By the same token, don’t waste time in expecting a boy to just “get the hint”. He may genuinely not get it, so don’t hesitate to spill it out.