Women told they must man up

By Rebecca Lewis

Women tend to air their problems among too many people and such gossip can induce anxiety. Photo / Supplied
Women tend to air their problems among too many people and such gossip can induce anxiety. Photo / Supplied

Behaving more like men could help women boost their sex lives, eat healthier and stress less.

But that would mean bitching less, not focusing as much on perfection and worrying less about being on a diet.

Becoming more comfortable with being sexually aroused would also help improve a woman's sex life, according to experts.

A registered psychologist and director at Auckland's MindWorks clinic, Sara Chatwin, said many women aired their problems with too many people and gossiped mercilessly among friends.

Men, on the other hand, tended to keep their problems to themselves or asked advice from one trusted person - something women could learn from.

"Women are more likely to canvas a raft of friends about an issue, whereas men are more self-contained," said Chatwin.

"It is often really problematic, the way women gossip, and really anxiety-inducing."

Chatwin said women should adopt the male "can-do" attitude.

"We should stop gossiping and start acting. Men make decisions well."

Chatwin said women who focused too much on being perfect - whether it involved keeping the bathroom clean to not having a hair out of place - could also be doing themselves a disservice.

In the bedroom, women generally had things under control. But Wellington-based sexologist Michelle Mars said women could work on arousal.

"Men are comfortable with the idea of being aroused," said Mars. "Women are less likely to say that something 'turns them on'. They're just not as comfortable with it but getting aroused is what makes all those feel-good hormones.

"I say to my clients that getting aroused at least once a day can make you feel sexier and can improve your sex life."

When it came to nutrition, women may be good at noting the calories and fat content in certain foods - but were not as good as sticking to dietary changes and avoiding "emotional eating".

Nutritionist Claire Turnbull said emotional eating often became a coping mechanism for stress.

"For women, eating chocolate when you are down and ice cream when you are sad seems to be the norm. For men, it's socially normal to toughen up and get on with it," said Turnbull.

"[Women] need to learn new coping strategies for the difficult situations we face."

Turnbull said while men and women would need to do quite different things to lose weight or tone up, women could learn motivational skills from men.

"I think a lot of women could learn a thing or two from men when it comes to procrastination about exercise," she said.

"Men seem to be able to just get up and go to the gym or on a run, but women think, 'Will I? Won't I? Fat day, sore knee,' before they can get out of bed."

Learn how to wear the pants

Sally Martin, who plays the nurse Nicole Miller on TV2's Shortland Street, tells us how she lives like a man.

1. Stop bitching and gossiping so much. "I agree with this - to a point. Snarky, catty gossip is hardly going to solve anything and karma's a bitch. But when you have a problem I think it's great that women can generally share with someone else. An extra unbiased opinion can help you see another point of view or help with a way to deal with it. That said, I'd stick to one person I trust. The rest of the world doesn't need to hear your whinging."

2. Adopt a male "can do" attitude. "I'd like to use the excuse that the time I take can be justified because I am making well-considered, thoughtful decisions. But let's be honest - I am Queen Procrastination, Princess Indecisive and I should listen more to my gut instinct. We're supposed to have fantastic intuitions, are we not?"

3. Stop trying so hard to be perfect and do things step-by-step. "I believe in this one 100 per cent. But, easier said than done. I do think some women could be better at exercising more control over the amount we take on at one time. Life's for enjoying, not for charging around like a stress cadet."

4. Become more comfortable with your sexuality. "I think, generally speaking, women these days [are comfortable] with themselves sexually. Well, I hope that's true. As I said, life's for enjoying, right? There's nothing wrong and everything right with knowing what you like and helping yourself out."

5. "Toughen up" and try to quit the emotional eating. "Thank you to the person who coined the phrase "emotional eating" - it is quite a tidy excuse when we're just being pigs. I definitely think diets are the devil.

"We women seem to be easy targets for fad diets and quick fixes. Seriously, that just messes with your heart (literally) and your body and will not work in the long run. We should just realise that we'll be sweet if we learn to eat a balanced diet and exercise regularly. Yeah, I know. How boring."

- Herald on Sunday

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