Wednesday, April 21, 2010

When Men Decide.....

I have a theory. (Well I guess you have worked out by now that I have a few theories & the former sentence will probably be carved on my gravestone) Okay - but I have a theory about men. (well - don't get me started). Right. I will try again. I HAVE A THEORY ABOUT MEN'S MATURITY.

There - I can be specific now and will immediately jump to a broad, unqualified and somewhat contentious claim. I have a theory that men start maturing at aged 33. I have run with this one for a while. And while a few (predominantly male) eyebrows have raised and twitched, no one has come out actually advocating strongly on the negative team. Of course this is a generalisation and of course there are exceptions to the rule. But on the whole, from my own "research" I have found this to be largely true. I am not entirely sure where I picked the number 33 from (no - I really don't think Jesus dying on the cross has anything to do with this.....) but it does seem to be the magic number.

I have interviewed literally hundreds of men and women on the subject of relationships. The last four years of my life have been dedicated to finding out exactly how men and women think in regards to their own past relationships and where to from here with regards to future partners. I am pleased to say that on the whole - both men and women seem to learn from past problems and do enough self reflection to at least have the intention and emotional intelligence to try to "do better next time". Even those who have been cheated on, lied to and just generally treated like crap seem to have really gone through some kind of re-wiring process before they want to move on. Well at least those that came to see me did. And if they hadn't - I told them to go away and do it and come back a year later.

What I did find most astounding though was men's absolute and overwhelming conviction that they wanted to have children. And I have found that after the age of 33 (on average) this is more and more common. It is almost as if a light is switched on in men at a certain time and it is near impossible to turn it off. When men are on a mission to procreate (and I mean to actually be a dad - not just do test runs) then it is seldom that they give up on this till they have found their suitable mate.

Scientific Studies show that men's hormone levels are drastically shifted by fatherhood. For instance, when men are expecting the birth of their first child, levels of cortisol and prolactin (the same hormones of attached mothers) are seen to increase rapidly in the males system. Also,a father's testosterone level drops by about a third(on average) in the first three weeks after his child is born.

The levels rise or fall depending on how much time the male spends with the pregnant mother. The more time he does spend - the higher the dosage of the sex hormone he receives.

On the other hand, high levels of testosterone are associated with "incompatible non-nurturing behaviours," as one researcher put it. If your man is off the scale with his testosterone test, the theory goes, don't count on him being the one to wake up at 2am for the nappy change or singing the little one to sleep with personalised lullabies. They'll be too busy fighting other men in bars or in the office and seducing other women. Sorry. Not me thats saying it. It's science speaking.

There's also some very exciting evidence that fatherhood can change the male brain. Yay! Men can get pregnancy "mushy brain" too! Not quite. Typical. It seems to make them smarter, sharper and more well rounded. A 2006 study found enhancements in the front brain of men after childbirth. The neurons in this region showed greater connectivity, suggesting that having young children could boost the part of the brain responsible for planning and memory.

This obviously helps when trying to locate your own particular child in an overcrowded playground. As opposed to the guy with the high testosterone levels who is probably chatting up the blonde at the slippery slip and doesn't see little Lucy dangling precariously from the monkey bar.

Research has shown that fatherhood also increases the brain's reception for vasopressin, a hormone that has been shown to prompt animal fathers to bond with their offspring. They found this out by injecting it into prairie dogs and watching what they did next. Imagine if you handed that out at nightclubs - all the fathers and future fathers would leave the building!

I am still seeking theory to back up my 33+ claim. I'm sure it's there somewhere. But my research coincides with my suggestion to women that it's better to pick the nice guy over the aggressor if you want a good husband. The bad boy at the bar might be fun and exciting for a while but not so much fun in the wee hours of the morning when your feet are freezing on the floor of the kitchen while you are heating up the milk and they are out doing the same thing they were doing when you met them.

Men do grow up. They just have to want to. And believe me - most do. I'm thinking of inventing a kind of RHT. (Random hormone testing). Before you girls decide to get married or hook up long term - or even waste your time trying to "change him" - ask him to pee in a cup. If he's got the hormones you want - go for it. If he doesn't - tell him to grow up and come and see you in a year.

1 comment:

  1. Really interesting Janie! I'm 34 now, so I'm very relieved I'm over the hump.