in Opinion

A Visual Guide to Men

I was talking to my friend Jon about my upcoming book, The Women’s Guide to How Men Think. (Boom! Shawn goes for the pretentious name-drop and casual mention of the book in one sentence!)

Jon told me that he could explain men with a simple graph, and he drew this:

How Men Think

“That’s all any woman needs to know about men,” he said. Visually, it seems sparse, so I thought about ways to spruce up the data. For example, here’s a the type of infographic you might find in USA Today:

What Men Think About

Here’s an infographic you might find on NPR’s website:

Are Men Useful

Here’s a pie chart:

What Men Want

Here’s a manly steak chart:

What Men Really Want

And a bar chart:

Things Men Think About

I think Jon captured the basics, but let me share a few tidbits I found while writing the book just to whet your appetite.

  • Risk-Taking: Men are risk-takers when we’re trying to woo a woman. Our risk-taking behavior seems designed to attract women, but we become measurably risk-averse as the relationship matures. It makes good evolutionary sense (or good planning from God, if you prefer that explanation). Although risk-taking is an effective way to attract women’s attention, it makes no sense to continue taking risks after he has earned her love. Why would a man risk safety or resources after he has established a relationship and a brood to protect? That behavioral shift can cause problems in the modern romantic relationship, and most couples don’t even recognize that it’s happening.
  • Masculine Traits: During the fertile phase of their cycles, women statistically are more attracted to men with overtly masculine features. On an individual level the effects might be negligible. But as a species, this seems to have had a profound effect on the way men think about themselves and the women in their lives. Basically, we don’t know what you want from us and so we tend to overcompensate by striving to make more money, build more muscles, or wear more Axe body spray. (Though it must be pointed out that some men do not over-exert themselves in the trying-to-be-successful department.)
  • No-Win Arguments: Men often feel like they are verbally outmatched during arguments with their wives or girlfriends. One man told me that arguing with his wife was like going one-on-one with LeBron James. Men who feel like they will always be on the losing end of a discussion are likely to clam up and avoid arguments at all costs, which usually makes things worse.

Men are more complex than we’ve been led to believe by sitcoms or magazines, but you wouldn’t know it because it’s hard to look interesting when you’re obsessively pursuing food and sex. Jon’s chart isn’t wrong, it’s just overly simple. And what could be more manly than that?