How do you Manage Stress? Fight, Flight, or Bond

Do you believe women and men handle stress differently? If so, then you, like UCLA researcher, Shelley E. Taylor, agree. Her UCLA study found that women are far more likely than men to “befriend” in response to stress – seeking social contact when they are feeling stressed while men shun social support. The explanation: hormones. More estrogen creates more oxytocin, leads to more befriending. 


Women gather, talk, and support each other (sometimes we clean the office, file our papers and bake bread too).

Men isolate themselves, stop talking and develop some serious stress-related disorders including hypertension, aggressive behavior, or abuse of alcohol or drugs. Yikes.


Women, likely you want to talk about your troubles and connect to your husband and he wants to go off and be alone and have a beer? No wonder stressed couples aren’t getting their needs met.  

Thoughts to Ponder:

  • Stress is a way of life for most of us and we need all the coping skills we can muster
  • Stress influences hormone production which influence behavior Recognize that different types of stress and coping strategies may have as much to do with gender as with learned styles so stop judging
  • Neither gender has a lock on the best way to cope
  • Give each other some gender-specific ‘space’ (e.g. face-to-face and alone time in equal balance).
  • Beware aggression. Aggression is a feeling it’s not real
  • Given enough stress our reptilian brain fight or fight response kicks in
  • Friends and relationships may mitigate aggression and health problems
  • Is aggression really gender-based? Probably not. The bully research shows men and women bullying about equally. Maybe women bullies lack estrogen (I’m not going there.)
  • Keep in mind that the fight response makes sense but that’s no excuse for being abrasive or abusive.
  • It’s time for an organica margarita. Want to join me?