Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus

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First edition
AuthorJohn Gray
CountryUnited States
Genrenon-fiction, relationships, psychology, self-help
Publication date
Media typeHardcover

Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus (1992[1]) is a book written by American author and relationship counselor John Gray. The book states that most common relationship problems between men and women are a result of fundamental psychological differences between the sexes, which the author exemplifies by means of its eponymous metaphor: that men and women are from distinct planets—men from Mars and women from Venus—and that each sex is acclimated to its own planet's society and customs, but not to those of the other. One example is men's complaint that if they offer solutions to problems that women bring up in conversation, the women are not necessarily interested in solving those problems, but mainly want to talk about them. The book asserts each sex can be understood in terms of distinct ways they respond to stress and stressful situations.

The book has sold more than 15 million copies[2][3] and, according to a CNN report, it was the "highest ranked work of non-fiction" of the 1990s,[4] spending 121 weeks on the bestseller list.[clarification needed] The book and its central metaphor have become a part of popular culture and the foundation for the author's subsequent books, recordings, seminars, theme vacations, one-man Broadway show, TV sitcom, workout videos, a podcast, men's and ladies' apparel lines, fragrances, travel guides and his-and-hers salad dressings.

Summary of results[edit]

Gray writes how men and women each monitor the amount of give and take in relationships. If the balance shifts, one person feeling they have given more than they have received, resentment can develop. This is a time when only communication can help to bring the relationship back into balance.

Gray further asserts men and women view giving and receiving love differently, how individual actions intended as loving expressions are "tallied up." According to Gray, women and men are often surprised to find their partners "keep score" at all, or that their scoring methods widely differ.

He says women use a points system which few men are aware of. Each individual act of love gets one point, regardless of magnitude. Men, on the other hand, assign small acts, small expenditures, fewer points. Larger blocks of points (20, 30, 40 points, etc.) go to what they consider bigger expenditures. To a woman, the emotional stroke delivered by sincere attention is inseparable from the act. The different perception of expenditure can lead to conflict when the man thinks his work has earned him, say, 20 points and deserves corresponding recognition, while the woman has assigned him only 1 point and recognizes him accordingly. The man tends to think he can do one Big Thing for her (scoring 50 points) and not do much else, assuming he has "banked" points and can afford to "coast." The woman should be satisfied with his performance and give him credit for it. Instead, the woman would rather have many little things done for her on a regular basis, because women like to think their men are thinking of them and care for them more constantly. Gray clarifies how these two perceptions of "strokes" cause conflict. He encourages talking about these issues openly.

Another major idea put forth in Gray's book regards the difference in the way the genders react to stress. Gray states that when male tolerance to stressful situations is exceeded, they withdraw temporarily, "retreating into their cave", so to speak. Often, they literally retreat: for example, to the garage, or to go spend time with friends. In their "caves", Gray writes, men are not necessarily focused on the problem at hand. Yet this "time-out" lets them distance themselves from the problem and relax, allowing them to re-examine the problem later from a fresh perspective.

Gray holds that male retreat into the cave has historically been hard for women to understand. When women become unduly stressed, their natural reaction is to talk with someone close about it (even if talking doesn't provide a solution to the problem at hand). This sets up a natural dynamic where the man retreats as the woman tries to get closer, which becomes a major source of conflict between them.

The "wave" is a term Gray uses to describe a natural dynamic centered around a woman's ability to give to other people. He writes when she feels full of love and energy to give to others, her wave is stable. When she gives of herself, but doesn't receive adequate love and attention in return, her wave becomes unbalanced, cresting and eventually crashing. Then, a woman needs the attention, listening, understanding, and reassurance of those around her—as well as self-love. Gray explains that once she is rejuvenated by getting the support she needs, her wave is able to build and rise once again, with renewed love and energy to give. Men, advises Gray, should support this natural cycle by not being threatened by it or telling her why she should not feel the way a woman feels.



The book has sold more than 15 million copies[2][3] and, according to a CNN report, it was the "highest ranked work of non-fiction" of the 1990s.[4]

The book has become a “popular paradigm” for problems in relationships based on the different tendencies in each gender and has spawned infomercials, audiotapes and videotapes, weekend seminars, theme vacations, a one-man Broadway show, a TV sitcom, and a proposed movie topic with 20th Century Fox.[5][6][7] The book has been turned into a successful stage show in France in 2006, where it has been running for six years in Paris. In 2012, an English version went on tour in the UK.[8]

Criticism of the book[edit]

The book has been criticized for placing human psychology into stereotypes.[9][10][11][12]

Michael Kimmel, a professor of sociology at Stony Brook University, makes the assertion that men and women are not fundamentally different, contrary to what Gray suggests in his book. In Kimmel's 2008 lecture at Middlebury College in Vermont, titled "Venus, Mars, or Planet Earth? Women and Men in a New Millennium", Kimmel contends that the perceived differences between men and women are ultimately a social construction, and that socially and politically, men and women want the same things.[13]

In 2002, author Julia T. Wood published a critical response to the portrayal of the genders in Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus.[14] In the first chapter of the 2003 book, The Essential Difference, Simon Baron-Cohen states: "the view that men are from Mars and women Venus paints the differences between the two sexes as too extreme. The two sexes are different, but are not so different that we cannot understand each other."[15] In 2004, Erina MacGeorge, a Purdue University communications professor, said that based on research she conducted using questionnaires and interviews, men and women are not so different and "books like John Gray's Men are From Mars and Women are From Venus and Deborah Tannen's You Just Don't Understand tell men that being masculine means dismissing feelings and downplaying problems (which many men themselves that read the book disagree with). That isn't what most men do, and it isn't good for either men or women."[16]

A study by Bobbi Carothers and Harry Reis involving over 13,000 individuals[17] found that on most psychological characteristics or tendencies, including the Big Five personality traits as well as sex-related questions like rating level of desire for casual sex, there was not a taxonomic difference between men and women on the vast majority of personality traits and preferences. Despite there being differences in averages by gender, the distributions overlapped so much that a taxonomic distinction was not meaningful. "Thus, contrary to the assertions of pop psychology titles like Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus, it is untrue that men and women think about their relationships in qualitatively different ways." There were notable taxonomic differences on physical attributes and measurements of physical strength.[18]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus". Goodreads. Retrieved 2016-03-18.
  2. ^ a b Beaumont-Thomas, Ben (February 14, 2017). "Interview to John Gray. How we made Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus". The Guardian. Retrieved November 18, 2018.
  3. ^ a b "HarperCollins Catalogue [25th Anniversary]". HarperCollins. 2017. Retrieved November 18, 2018.
  4. ^ a b "Grisham ranks as top-selling author of decade". December 31, 1999. Archived from the original on 2012-09-08. Retrieved November 18, 2018.
  5. ^ Gleick, Elizabeth (June 16, 1997). "Tower of Psychobabble". Time. Archived from the original on July 26, 2009. Retrieved May 27, 2018.
  6. ^ The chronology of American literature: America's literary achievements, By Daniel S. Burt, page 696, New England Publishing Associates 2004,
  7. ^ "Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus". The New York Times. July 15, 2012. Archived from the original on July 15, 2012. Retrieved May 27, 2018.
  8. ^ "Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus - Tour Dates". Archived from the original on 10 September 2012. Retrieved 2 February 2022.
  9. ^ Murphy, Lauren (February 14, 2002). "Mars and Venus at work". The Washington Times. = Mars and Venus at work; Critics aim to bring Gray back down to Earth Archived 2021-04-25 at the Wayback Machine. Retrieved April 2, 2017.
  10. ^ "Can't Understand Your Mate? It's Time To Align Your Planets". The Palm Beach Post. November 1, 1998. Retrieved February 17, 2018.
  11. ^ "John Gray Fires Back at Critic Who Questioned His Credentials". Inside Edition. November 20, 2003.
  12. ^ John Gray | Bio | Premiere Motivational Speakers Bureau. Retrieved April 2, 2017.
  13. ^ Mars, Venus, or Planet Earth? Women & Men in a New Millennium on YouTube. Retrieved April 2, 2017.
  14. ^ Wood, Julia T. (Winter 2002). "A Critical Response to John Gray's Mars and Venus Portrayals of Men and Women". Southern Communication Journal. Memphis, Tennessee. 67 (2): 201–210. doi:10.1080/10417940209373229. OCLC 936904728. S2CID 146380651.
  15. ^ Baron-Cohen, Simon (2004) [2003]. The Essential Difference. Male and Female Brains and the Truth about Autism. London: Penguin Books. p. 9. ISBN 978-0-141-90944-8. pp. 223, 246. {{cite book}}: External link in |quote= (help)
  16. ^ MacGeorge, Erina (February 17, 2004). "Purdue study shows men, women share same planet". Purdue News. Retrieved April 2, 2017.
  17. ^ Carothers, Bobbi J.; Reis, Harry T. (February 2013) [October 22, 2012]. "Men and Women Are From Earth: Examining the Latent Structure of Gender" (PDF). Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. American Psychological Association. 104 (2): 385–407. doi:10.1037/a0030437. PMID 23088230. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2013-02-28. Retrieved April 1, 2017.
  18. ^ "Men Are from Mars Earth, Women Are from Venus Earth" (PDF). Science Daily. University of Rochester. February 4, 2013. Retrieved April 2, 2017.

Further reading[edit]

  • Sprecher, Susan; Toro-Morn, Maura (2011), "A study of men and women from different sides of Earth to determine if men are from Mars and women are from Venus in their beliefs about love and romantic relationships", in Kimmel, Michael; Aronson, Amy (eds.), The gendered society reader (4th ed.), New York: Oxford University Press, pp. 559–577, ISBN 978-0199733712.

External links[edit]