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Quiz: What's your man thinking?

what's he thinking quiz: hunky man grinning

Men and women can sometimes seem like two different species - what we do for fun (shopping, chatting on the phone) is usually like pulling teeth for them. And what comes as second nature to our menfolk (dumping wet towels on the floor, having a two-second attention span when the conversation turns to relationships) makes our blood boil.

It's easy to see why we often end up locking horns - men and women see life very differently. Traditionally, this tension is never resolved. So once the first flush of love has diminished, both sides slide into feeling resigned but slightly disgruntled - he feels he can never do anything right, we feel unappreciated. Sound familiar?

And it's not just relationships between couples that can become a war zone. The behaviour of sons, brothers and even male bosses can perplex, baffle and confound the best of us. Read on to discover the reasons behind a few of their less charming traits...

Put him to the test

1. He's acting like a bear with a sore head, so you ask him what's wrong. Does he...

a) ...reply with a grunt and suddenly become engrossed in whatever's on TV?

b) ...explain the problem in three seconds and look blank if you push for details?

c) ...sit down and plunge into an hour-long discussion?

Chances are, you've picked a or b. Although we've spent years wishing men were more sensitive, persuading them to express themselves can feel like trying to get blood from a stone. Relationship expert Michael Gurian suggests that the reason for this lies in the way the male brain is wired. Women have lots of connections between the two areas in the brain devoted to emotion and communication. Men have 25 per cent less, so they find it harder to put their feelings into words. This explains why we can talk endlessly about the ins and outs of a situation, but men prefer a much more black and white approach.

2. You mention a problem at work that's been worrying you. Does he...

a) ...fire questions at you, without smiling?

b) ...list four solutions and then look impatient if you object to his advice?

c) ...give you a hug and make you a cup of tea?

If it's a or b (or both), that's because men are more likely to problem-solve than be comforting as they don't have as much of the brain chemical oxytocin as women. This chemical encourages the ‘tend and befriend instinct', making us feel all warm and cosy when we talk about feelings. Instead, men's stress levels actually increase when they hear about problems, which is why they try to tackle them as quickly as possible.

3. When he's with friends, he usually...

a) ...watches sport.

b) ...plays sport.

c) ...talks about relationships.

If you chose c, you have a rare breed! Men bond more with actions than words. The extra testosterone they have makes them more aggressive, and sport is one of the more acceptable outlets for this.

4. You're talking to your male boss about a work party last year. You can remember everything, down to your outfit and even what you ate. He...

a) ...says, ‘What party?'

b) ...can remember the day and perhaps the hangover, but not much else.

c) ...asks whether you ever got the wine stain off your dress.

So, your boss fits into the a or b category? No surprise there, then. Women are much better at recalling small details because our brains are hard-wired for child-rearing. Sexist though it sounds, it's because being perceptive and attentive were skills that we needed back as cavewomen, when our lives revolved around bringing up the children. Men focus on the bigger picture because chasing after antelopes doesn't require much attention to detail. 

5. Your son is watching television. He...

a) ...becomes temporarily deaf - you might as well try talking to a brick wall.

b) ...hogs the remote control and flicks between channels.

c) ...would rather spend time chatting about your day.

 Most likely, it's going to be a or b. You always suspected this, but it's true - men's brains actually switch off when they're ‘zoning out' in front of the TV. Brain scans show that the activity in the ‘thoughts and feelings' areas is reduced when men are resting. It's like taking a mental nap, whereas women's minds are constantly ticking over. If you chose b, it shows that he likes to take charge of the remote control because flicking around the channels doesn't tax his resting brain. If you're in charge of it, you might choose an emotionally demanding programme that would cause his stress levels to increase.

6. The washing-up is sky high, the carpet is covered in pet hairs and there's a mouldy lettuce in the fridge. Your partner...

a) ...is lying on the sofa, having a snooze.

b) ...has ordered a takeaway.

c) ...is busy cleaning the bathroom.

They're not deliberately trying to annoy you - men opt for a or b because they genuinely don't notice the mess. Again, their cavemen instincts come into play. Housework isn't high on their list of priorities because their sense of identity and satisfaction lies outside the home - in their work. We're more concerned with it because we feel judged by how our home looks. And as for their efforts at housework, they're less thorough when they do tackle it because their senses are blunter. Cat litter tray? What cat litter tray?

What you can do

If the answers you chose in this quiz rang depressingly loud bells for you, don't despair. Although it may be fruitless to hope that one day you'll be able to tick c, there are ways to prevent the gulf between the sexes getting you down.

Remember that he processes feelings and emotions differently from you, so give him time to think things over before declaring him useless.

Notice how he copes with stress and accept that his way works for him just as a cuddle and a chat works for you.

Alter your expectations about the housework. Celebrate the fact that he's actually doing it - no one but you can do it exactly how you want it.

Turn to your female friends for the touchy-feely chats you crave, instead of relying on him.

Don't expect him to be able to read your mind.

To find out more about the differences between the sexes, read Michael Gurian's book, 'What Could He Be Thinking?' (Element Books, £8.99)

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