Book Summary – Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus

My (man’s perspective) brief bullet-summary of John Gray – Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus [1992]



Don’t offer unsolicited advice to Martians because men would feel incompetent otherwise. Don’t try to change a man’s behaviour when he makes a mistake. Don’t offer solutions to problems Venusians have, just give support (and a hug) and let her talk. Don’t try to change her feelings from bad to good by offering a solution, or you’ll probably invalidate her feelings.

Solutions and advice can be given: it’s just a matter of timing and approach!

Stress: when men go to their cave, women have to leave Martians alone. Stress: women talk about their problems, hence men just have to listen and support (empathy).

Communication: talk about it, at the right time!

Men are motivated and empowered when they feel needed. Women are motivated and empowered when they feel cherished. Martians need to show empathy.

The Martian (information) and Venusian (feeling – words not to be taken literally!) languages had the same words, but the way they were used gave different meanings.

Men support one another by not worrying or minimizing their troubles. A woman wants her man to worry for her when she’s upset.
Men need to understand to talk more, communicating better what they feel (e.g. “I’m OK, I’m handling this alone, I’ll be back”). Women need to be reassured they are loved and that everything is fine when a man is going into his cave.
If a man feels blamed, don’t blame back, just say “I feel blamed.” Double-check is always necessary. When she needs to complain, don’t take it personally! Venusians have to reassure men about their complaining by saying “it’s not your fault!” This way men don’t feel blamed and can listen more carefully.
When a man loves a woman, periodically he needs to pull away before he can get closer. He has to assure her that he’ll be back. When a man springs back, before a woman can open up again to him she generally wants and needs time and conversation to reconnect.
Even when a man is succeeding in supporting a woman she may become even more upset.DON’T try to fix her: when negative feelings are suppressed positive feelings become suppressed as well, and love dies. A woman’s self-esteem rises and falls like a wave. When she hits bottom it’s a time for emotional housecleaning (she goes in the well).

In relationships, men pull back and then get close, while women rise and fall in their ability to love themselves and others.

Men argue for the right to be free while women argue for the right to be upset.

By supporting her need to be heard she could support his need to be free.

When he’s in the cave and she’s in the well:

  1. Accept your limitations
  2. Understand her pain
  3. Avoid arguing and give reassurance
Men need to receive (primary needs for him, secondary for her):

  1. trust
  2. acceptance
  3. appreciation
  4. admiration
  5. approval
  6. encouragement
Women need to receive: (primary needs for her, secondary for him)

  1. caring
  2. understanding
  3. respect
  4. devotion
  5. validation
  6. reassurance
A man commonly makes the mistake of thinking that once he has met all of a woman’s primary love needs, and she feels happy and secure, that she should know from then on that she is loved. The secret of empowering a man is never to try to change him or improve him.The best way to help a man grow is to let go of trying to change him in any way.
To avoid been hurt, a man usually fights or flies. To avoid been hurt, a woman usually fakes or folds.

Most arguments escalate when a man begins to invalidate a woman’s feelings and she responds to him disapprovingly.

Arguments arise when the man feels that the woman disapproves of his point of view. Arguments arise when the woman disapproves of the way the man is talking to her.
Men are most prone to argue when they have made a mistake or upset the woman they love. The most common way women unknowingly start arguments is by not being direct when they share their feelings.
Most men strive for greater and greater success because they believe it will make them worthy of love. When a man is in a negative state… treat him like a passing tornado and lie low.
Martians idealize Fairness. Venusians idealize unconditional love.
Martians give when they are asked. Venusians say yes even when the score is uneven.
Martians give penalty points. Response Letters are the best way to teach a man about a woman’s needs.
Sometimes feelings can hide other feelings: anger for pain; indifference for anger; feeling offended for feeling hurt; anger for feeling afraid; ashamed for anger or grieving; peace for anger, fear, disappointment, and shame; confidence for inadequacy; aggressiveness for feeling afraid. Sometimes feelings can hide other feelings: concern and worry for anger, fear, and disappointment; confusion for anger, irritation, and frustration; feeling bad for embarrassment, anger, sadness, and regret; fear for anger, hurt, and sadness; grieving for feeling angry and afraid; hope for anger, happiness for sadness, love for anger.
If a woman’s not asking for support, a man assumes he’s giving enough. On Venus their motto is “Love is never having to ask!”
When a man hears a demanding tone, no matter how nicely you phrase your request, all he hears is that he’s not giving enough. His tendency is then to give less until you appreciate what he’s already giving.Just as a woman is more sensitive about being heard and feeling understood when she’s sharing her feelings, a man’s more sensitive about being accepted just the way he is. When asking a man for support, assume that he doesn’t have to be convinced. Be appropriate in timing, have a non-demanding attitude, be brief and direct, use correct wording (will/would instead of can/could). Men are more willing to say yes when they have the freedom to say no.When you ask a man for support and you don’t reject him for saying no, he’ll remember that and next time he’ll be much more willing to give.When a man grumbles it’s a good sign – he’s trying to consider your request versus his needs.BE SILENT after you asked for support.

How to heal relationships: Motivation, Responsibility, Practice (with some inevitable mistakes!).

USE the Love Letter Technique (EVERY TIME you’re upset with someone or something, it doesn’t matter who/what it is, just skip step 3…):

  1. Write a Love Letter expressing ALL your feelings, in this order: anger, sadness, fear, regret, and love.
  2. Write a Response Letter expressing what you want to hear from your partner.
  3. Share your Love Letter and Response Letter with your partner.
  • Writing Love Letters is for sharing negative feelings IN ORDER TO find the positive ones. The partner needs to be understanding and respectful. Don’t deny, disapprove, or blame the partner for sharing his/her negative feelings!
  • Sharing negative feelings is part of loving communication!
  • If as children our inner emotions had been repeatedly heard and validated in a loving way, then as adults we wouldn’t get stuck in negative emotions.
  • The very act of avoiding our negative emotions gives them the power to control our lives.
  • Books can inspire you to love yourself more, but by listening to, writing out, or verbally expressing your feelings you are actually doing it.
  • A relationship is healthy when both partners have permission to ask for what they want and need, and they both have permission to say no if they choose.
  • When things are going well and we’re feeling loved, love brings up unresolved feelings of the past. The same thing happens when you get what you want (at a social level it’s called crisis of rising expectations, e.g. when people gain freedom from tyrants).
  • These past unresolved feelings come up to be healed and released. This happens when we are safe to feel. THIS HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH OUR PARTNER, so don’t blame him/her! About 90% of the upset’s related to our past, while 10% is related to the present experience –> We are NEVER upset for the (present) reason we think! Write a healing letter: love letter to your partner while feeling about your past re-addressing the receiver (from your partner to…). OR get the help of a therapist. Because you feel safe with your partner, your deepest fears have a chance to surface. When they surface you become afraid and are unable to share what you feel.
  • To keep the magic of love alive we must be flexible and adapt to the ongoing changing seasons of love! A relationship is like a garden: if it’s to thrive it must be watered regularly: spring (falling in love, everything seems perfect), summer (work on the relationship as it’s not perfect), fall (harvest the results), winter (solitary growth: cave and well), spring again…!


And if you have some spare time, here’s the video of Dr. Gray at TEDx:

john gray mars venus tedx

8 thoughts on “Book Summary – Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus

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