Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus was the ‘90s dating staple. This is a book that entertains the idea that men and women communicate differently – the central metaphor? We’re from different planets!
If you’re a Millennial you’ll probably remember the book being referenced in everything from romcoms to sitcoms. And maybe remember your mom’s single friends reading it too.
If you’re Gen Z, congrats, you don’t even recall a pre-dating-app world. Trust me, it was tough. You had to like… talk to strangers. And read actual dating advice books on actual paper.
‘What a waste of time! I want my content pre-digested! I just want the good bits!’ you cry.
Well, then you’ve come to the right place.
Here are what I consider to be the most important stories, takeaways, and messages from the dating book classic Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus.
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What Is The Book About?
As discussed, this dating guide has a quirky premise. And yet, Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus gives some good advice on how to deal with communication when you and your partner have different ways of communicating. It also encourages its readers to listen to one another, which can’t be a bad thing.
Martians, apparently, spied the Venetians one day and just had to go get them. And there, the book begins! These mismatched beings must learn to communicate. But it is going to take some work!
Perhaps it isn’t the most sensitive way to view human coupling up, but author John Gray manages some nuggets of truth (and some decent advice) in his space-age tale.
The book was aimed at Gen X daters in their late 20s and 30s, and took the world by storm upon publication in 1992. It was so popular that Bridget Jones carried it around with her, in fact. And she snagged Colin Firth, so she must have been doing something right.
Dating Lesson One: Communication Styles Differ
This book takes its central metaphor seriously. Men are Martians, women are Venusians.
That’s pretty wild.
But, John Gray makes some widely interesting points with it!
One paragraph reads:
‘Martians value power, competency, efficiency, and achievement. They are always doing things to prove themselves and develop their power and skills. Their sense of self is defined through their ability to achieve results. They experience fulfillment primarily through success and accomplishment.’
The moral of this? Basically, men try to fix problems while women want to just talk them out.
While there are deeply gendered assumptions here, and of course the way boys and girls are raised plays into this, there is some central truth to it.
I can’t count the number of times a girlfriend has told me to stop offering solutions and just listen! And I’m a pretty emotionally intelligent guy. I mean, my job is literally all about how to date and not be an asshole! And yet… I guess I’m still a Martian.
What Does This Mean?
If you are a Martian (read: a dude) then try to spend more time just listening. Just chatting. In fact, this probably isn’t a solid gender binary thing. And there is never a wrong time to slow down, listen, ask what your partner needs from you if you are unsure.
How To Apply This Dating Advice
If you’re on a date? Don’t monopolize the conversation. Don’t assume your date needs your help. They did just fine without you until… well… just now. And if you don’t usually take the reigns? Maybe you should. You can come with some conversation ideas, or plan a great date night.
Dating Lesson Two: Rubber Bands And Caves
Okay… did this book invent the tradition of the man cave?
I remember all the ‘rubber band’ stuff from, I dunno, Sex, and the City or Ally McBeal or something. It was big in the ’90s. But the man cave part of it all, I had totally forgotten.
But I’ll backtrack. What are rubber bands and what are caves? I mean, what are they in the context of Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus?
Unfortunately, the ‘man cave’ foundations are a little… dated. The idea is summed up like this: Men become withdrawn when they are stressed and need a ‘cave’.
Women become emotional and need to vent. As a result of this, men think women talk too much. This is elucidated by several stories about couples.
On top of this, men apparently act like ‘rubber bands’. They get close, and then they have to pull away.
This might be true (if we lean into gender norms) but it certainly has a lot more to do with socialization than innate characteristics.
Anyway, when the rubber band pings a man wants to get back to his cave. Women should understand this and make time for it. Men should, arguably, fight it.
What Does This Mean?
Basically, John Gray is telling us that different people have different communication styles. Remove the slightly problematic gender assumptions and it is a solid observation that could help you in your dating life, but also with friendships, at work, and dealing with difficult family members around the holiday dinner table.
How To Apply This Dating Advice
I am not 100% behind the concepts here. But, that being said, the lesson is pretty clear. Adapt to your partner’s communication style.
Try to understand how they think. If they need space, give it to them. If they deal with being uncomfortable by joking, let that ride. And tbh, that can be relevant even in the early dating stage.
Dating Lesson Three: 101 Ways To Score Points With A Woman
Yeah, this one is exactly what it sounds like. And it is some 101-level dating advice if you ask me.
It isn’t that the advice itself is terrible, more just that most of it is quite basic and the format of a list seems lazy.
- Opening doors for her
- Practice asking questions
- Plan a date several days in advance, rather than waiting for Friday night and asking her what she wants to do
- Compliment her appearance
Basically, they will either look like you’re trying too hard or being patronizing or else they boil down to ‘communicate and be an adult’.
What Does It Mean?
It is essentially tips and tricks for being thoughtful. Planning a date in advance and making sure it is something she wants to do, for example, is a nice thing to do (and if you need help, I have ideas for all budgets)!
Thinking of questions ahead of time for a first date is also a good idea.
How To Apply This Dating Advice
Carefully. I mean, there is some pretty good advice in here but ticking off a list to make a woman happy isn’t a great idea. Take the pieces of advice individually, and apply the ones that seem to fit with your date where you can.
Don’t say, ‘I have this list of ways to make you happy, and it said to compliment you, so I guess… nice shoes?’.
Dating Lesson Four: Write Down Your Feelings
There are exercises!
I have to say, these are actually quite good.
One of my favorites is love letters. The twist? They’re not positive – or not totally positive – they’re honest.
The idea is that you will be able to communicate better and think over what you want to say, if you write a letter to your significant other.
So, instead of having an argument, you can lay out your issues carefully on paper and they can respond to them the same way.
The book advises using to layout your feelings and frustrations, but also sincerely tell the other person how much you value the relationship.
Then the hard part: wait for a response.
How to Apply This Dating Advice
Let’s be honest, we can do this with Whatsapp messages these days. But taking time is key, and typing out something substantial in say a Google doc should allow you that time.
It will take a discussion afterward, but this is actually a really good cooling down and discussion technique.
The Main Dating Advice in Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus
If you’re a regular Dude Hack reader or watcher, you’ll know I agree with this crucial bit of dating advice.
Listen to what your date, or partner, wants and needs. Be yourselves. Communicate.
Maybe it’s a 1992 thing, but John Gray, author of Men Are From Mars (who apparently has a Ph.D.) didn’t learn this until he was straight-up married with a kid.
His wife, having just given birth, needed painkillers (honestly he goes into the why of this a bit too much in the literal first paragraph of the intro) and he gets mad she didn’t call him in the office.
No texting, remember, it’s 1992!
Anyway, his wife, Bonnie, tells him she needs him and needs him to listen to her.
Most people should probably learn this lesson before they’re married with kids. But better late than never, I guess?
I imagine Bonnie may have mentioned it once or twice before though, to be honest.
Guys… be better than John Gray. That’s the real lesson from Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus. To be fair, he was on the dating scene a long time before dating apps. These days, there are tonnes to choose from – so many, in fact, I’ve designed a quiz to help.