Falling in love and growing closer to someone is an exciting experience, but how do you ever really know what's going on in another person's head? Well, researchers have tried to look into that question, and their findings are pretty fascinating. As it turns out, there may be some ways the male brain reacts differently to intimacy than the female brain, which could explain a lot of behaviors.
First, though, it's important to remember that these differences are relatively minor. "Our brains are mostly alike. We are the same species, after all. But the differences can sometimes make it seem like we are worlds apart," said clinical professor of psychiatry at the University of California Louann Brizendine in CNN. Because she literally wrote books on the subject, The Female Brain and The Male Brain, Dr. Brizendine knows what she's talking about.
So just what are these differences, and how do they line up with the stereotypical ways men and women are often described? Well, some of the findings do reinforce these gender divisions, but there are a few surprises as well. People are complicated enough on their own, but it's on a whole different level when you throw love, sex, and intimacy into the mix.
1. Falls In Love Hard & Fast
Will a man tend to wear his heart on his sleeve? It's quite possible. "I’ve been telling women’s magazines for 30 years that men fall in love faster than women do because they’re so visual, and they fall in love more often," said biological anthropologist Helen Fisher in Vox. Women may be a little more cautious in this area in general.
2. Feels Fearless During Sex
Although more research is still being done on how sex totally affects the brain, the findings we have so far are fascinating. During sexual arousal, the male brain decreases blood flow to the right amygdala, according to The Journal of Comparative Neurology. Because the right amygdala is often associated with negative emotions and fear, this decrease in blood flow might be responsible for some of those good feelings during intercourse, according to Reliawire.
3. Reach Orgasm More Easily
For many women, reaching orgasm is both a mental and physical feat. Sometimes the mood has to be just right. "A women's sex drive is much more easily upset than a guy's," said neuropsychiatrist Dr. Louann Brizendine in Live Science. In general, the male sex drive isn't as easy to turn off.
4. Breakups Are Rougher
It's difficult, if not impossible, to say that breakups are tougher on one sex or the other. They generally suck for everyone, right? "Thanks to a neurochemical called vasopressin, men in crisis are more likely to see other men as less approachable, but that same chemical cues women to see other women as more approachable," said Brian Alexander in Glamour. (Alexander and Emory University scientist Larry J. Young, Ph.D wrote The Chemistry Between Us: Love, Sex, and the Science of Attraction together.) In general, post-breakup women will look to their friends for comfort and support, whereas men might not have those same social connections in place.
5. More Aggro
Well, this is an interesting finding. "For men, sexual eagerness is mediated by the neuropeptide arginine-vassopressin, which is also known to have a role in the activation of aggression," as an interview with Brent Atkinson in The Couples Clinic explained. It's another potential way the male brain reacts differently to intimacy.