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Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus by John Gray.
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Men and women tend to get into conflict over their natural differences. But when you learn to think of men and women as coming from different planets, and therefore recognize the inherent differences between men and women, you will be more successful in relationships with the opposite sex.

Imagine that men come from Mars and women come from Venus. By understanding life on both planets, you will begin to understand why men think one way and women think another. Then you will learn to be more tolerant and forgiving of people of the opposite sex. You will discover creative solutions to miscommunication problems, understand the best way to show love and support, and learn how to get more fulfillment out of your relationships.

Martians and Venusians Come to Earth

One day on Mars, the Martians were looking out through their telescopes. All of a sudden, they noticed beautiful creatures on another planet. They had discovered the Venusians of Venus. Immediately, the Martians began to feel a kind of love they had never known. They quickly invented spaceships and traveled to Venus to take care of the marvelous creatures there.

All along, the Venusians had known that something great was on its way. They welcomed the Martians to their planet and gave their love generously to them. Although they were from different planets, the Martians and Venusians celebrated their differences and learned to live together harmoniously.

Eventually, the Martians and Venusians traveled to Earth. But the planet’s atmosphere had strange effects on them—they developed amnesia. All of a sudden, the Martians and Venusians forgot that they originally hailed from different planets. They could no longer understand and appreciate their innate differences.

Men and women have been in conflict ever since because understanding and appreciating one another’s differences is the key to healthy relationships.

The Primary Differences Between Men and Women

Because men and women hail from different planets, they have a different code of values and different emotional needs. The primary values and emotional needs of men and women influence everything from the way we behave to the way we communicate.

Qualities and Values of Men and Women

A man is primarily concerned with autonomy, achievement, power, and efficiency. His sense of self is centered around his ability to solve problems and reach goals by himself. These values are reflected in everything that a Martian does and says.

Because a man is so focused on handling his own problems, he does not particularly like to talk about his problems or accept advice, unless he consults a trusted expert. So on Mars, it is understood that when a man talks to another man about his problems, he has already attempted to solve them alone—now he is asking for advice or solutions.

On the other hand, a woman is primarily concerned with relationships, love, connection, and aesthetics. Her sense of self is centered around her ability to nurture others, communicate her feelings, and build quality relationships. These values are reflected in everything that a Venusian says and does.

Because a woman is so focused on communication, she finds fulfillment in talking about her problems with others. So on Venus, it is intuitively understood that communication is a sign of caring and respect. The way women show love to other women is to offer support without having to be asked.

Emotional Needs of Men and Women

Many times, both a man and a woman in a relationship feel as though they give more love than they receive. But the truth is that they are both giving love, but not in their partner’s desired manner.

Awareness of how your partner’s love needs are different from yours will guide you in how to show your love and support in the way they most want to receive them.

There are 12 types of love. It is important to note that both men and women need all 12 types of love. But men and women each have six primary needs that must be fulfilled in order to truly feel loved and give love in return.

  • Men primarily need trust, acceptance, appreciation, admiration, approval, and encouragement. On Mars, every man instinctively knew to show their love for each other in these primary ways.
  • Women primarily need caring, understanding, respect, devotion, validation, and reassurance. On Venus, every woman instinctively knew to show their love for each other in these primary ways.

The most effective way for a woman to fulfill a man’s love needs is to empower him. Showing your man that you love him the way he is, and wouldn’t want to change him, makes him feel trusted, accepted, appreciated, admired, approved of, and encouraged.

The most effective way for a man to fulfill a woman’s love needs is to communicate with her. Listening to a woman, without trying to change or invalidate her feelings, is a way to shower her with caring, understanding, respect, devotion, validation, and reassurance.

Different Behaviors of Men and Women

How Men and Women Communicate

You probably wouldn’t expect two different species from two different planets to speak the same language—so why would you expect men and women to communicate in the same way?

A man and a woman can hear the exact same words and glean two completely different meanings. These little misunderstandings often build into big arguments. The first step to avoiding unnecessary arguments is to understand the natural differences in the way you communicate:

  • Men talk to communicate information. They tend to speak literally and succinctly.
  • Women talk to communicate feelings. They tend to generalize, hyperbolize, and use poetic language to express themselves.

Because men and women use their words differently, they often misunderstand each other and end up in arguments.

Example: How to Communicate

...

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Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus Summary Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus Guide Introduction

Men and women tend to get into conflict over their natural differences. But when you learn to think of men and women as coming from different planets, and therefore recognize the inherent differences between men and women, you will be more successful in relationships with the opposite sex.

(Shortform note: Throughout this book, published in 1992, author John Gray uses the terms sex and gender somewhat interchangeably. He also makes some generalizations about men and women that might seem outdated today. Challenge yourself to look for insights about yourself and your romantic partner in the descriptions of both sexes.)

Imagine that men come from Mars and women come from Venus. By understanding life on both planets, you will begin to understand why men think one way and women think another. Then you will learn to be more tolerant and forgiving of people of the opposite sex. You will discover creative solutions to miscommunication problems, understand the best way to show love and support, and learn how to get more fulfillment out of your relationships.

Once you are aware that men and women are naturally different, you will be able to set more realistic expectations...

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Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus Summary Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus Guide Different Behaviors of Men and Women

When you remember that men and women come from different planets, it makes sense that men and women naturally behave differently. By understanding how and why men and women behave the way they do, you’ll be able to achieve greater harmony in your relationships.

How Men and Women Receive Love

All humans need love, regardless of gender. But men and women naturally crave different kinds of love.

Many times, both a man and a woman in a relationship feel as though they give more love than they receive. But the truth is that they are both giving love, but not in their partner’s desired manner.

Awareness of your partner’s love needs will guide you in how to show your love and support in the way they most want to receive them.

The Twelve Types of Love

There are 12 types of love.

  • Men primarily need trust, acceptance, appreciation, admiration, approval, and encouragement. On Mars, every man instinctively knew to show their love for each other in these primary ways.
  • Women primarily need caring, understanding, respect, devotion, validation, and reassurance. On Venus, every woman instinctively knew to show their love for each other in these...

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Shortform Exercise: Help Your Partner Support You in Stressful Times

Men and women naturally respond to stress differently: Men withdraw and women reach out. In order to get the emotional support you need from your partner during stressful times, you might have to help your partner understand why you’re behaving differently than they would.


Think back to a time that you were extremely stressed. How did you feel and how did you naturally respond? Did you need to withdraw or did you crave connection and communication?

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Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus Summary Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus Guide Men and Women’s Intimacy Cycles

Men and women have different rhythms and intimacy cycles when they’re in love.

  • Men get intimate with their partner, then distance themselves and withdraw, then come back to intimacy again.
  • Women rise on the wave of love, then fall into dissatisfaction, then swell with love again.

Men Are Like Rubber Bands

When a man is in love, he goes through a natural cycle of intimacy that is a lot like a rubber band. First, the man is very close and intimate. Then he begins to pull away. Once he has stretched to his maximum distance, like a rubber band, he snaps back into the relationship with the same level of intimacy he felt before he stretched.

The rubber band cycle comes naturally to a man in love—he might not even realize that he tends to pull away every time the relationship becomes more intimate. As a woman, it is important to be aware of this cycle, understand why it’s important for men, and know how to react to your partner’s fluctuations of intimacy.

Why Men Pull Away

When a man is in love, he feels the need for intimacy. However, because he is from Mars, he also feels the need for autonomy. The rubber band cycle gives the man a chance to fulfill...

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Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus Summary Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus Guide Improve Communication in Your Relationship

Almost all relationship problems stem from communication errors. In order to communicate successfully, you have to be respectful of the innate differences between you and your partner. In other words, you have to remember that your partner is from a different planet.

Good communication requires both partners to make small changes that reflect the way their partner would most like to be loved.

  • Men have to communicate how much they care about their female partner.
  • Women have to communicate how much they trust their male partner.

Understand the Language of the Opposite Sex

You probably wouldn’t expect two different species from two different planets to speak the same language—so why would you expect men and women to communicate in the same way?

A man and a woman can hear the exact same words and glean two completely different meanings. These little misunderstandings often build into big arguments. The first step to avoiding unnecessary arguments is to understand the natural differences in the way you communicate:

  • Men talk to communicate information. They tend to speak literally and succinctly.
  • Women talk to communicate feelings....

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Shortform Exercise: Improve Communication in Your Relationship

Almost all relationship problems stem from communication errors. In order to communicate successfully with the opposite sex, you have to remember that men talk to communicate information, while women talk to communicate feelings.


Think back to an argument you’ve had with your romantic partner in the past. What were some of the reasons you thought you were arguing?

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Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus Summary Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus Guide Understand How Your Partner Keeps Score

In relationships, men and women perform gestures of love for each other in the hopes of earning points from their partner, or earning favor. But because men and women are from different planets, they award points based on an entirely different set of rules.

Once you understand how your partner awards points, you’ll be able to direct your energy towards the gestures of love that your partner will appreciate the most:

  • Men need to focus on performing small loving acts for their partner.
  • Women need to focus on showing a loving attitude to their partner.

How to Score Points with a Woman

To a woman, every gift or gesture of love, no matter the size, is worth one point. The little things, like taking out the trash or bringing home flowers, are just as important to a woman as the big things, like a new car or a fun vacation. This is not just a woman’s preference—it’s a true emotional need. Every expression of love makes a woman feel cared for, validated, and respected.

Here are some examples of the kind of small gestures you can do every day to keep your female partner’s love needs fulfilled:

  • Give her a hug first thing upon arriving home from work....

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Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus Summary Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus Guide Achieve a Reciprocal Relationship

The key to a successful relationship is for both partners to feel equally fulfilled and loved—it should be a win/win relationship. Both partners should be equally motivated to give love to and receive love from one another.

Learn to Motivate Your Partner

If you feel unloved in your relationship, you might need to motivate your partner to show you the kind of love you need. The first step is to understand how men and women are motivated differently in love:

  • Men are motivated in love when they feel needed by their partner.
  • Women in love are motivated when they feel cherished by their partner.

If your partner is feeling unfulfilled in your relationship, you might need to motivate yourself to show love to your partner in a different way:

  • Men must learn how to give.
  • Women must learn how to receive.

Men Are Motivated by Being Needed

On Mars, men operated with a win/lose philosophy. Every man looked after himself and his own needs. Life on Mars was like a game of tennis—each man not only wanted to win, he wanted to actively make his competitor lose.

Once men discovered women, however, their view changed. Women instinctively sent out a...

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Shortform Exercise: Get the Support You Need

The three steps for learning to ask for more support in a relationship are: 1) Ask for what you’re already getting in a new way. 2) Ask for more support and accept no for an answer. 3) Step Three: Ask for what you want assertively.

Consider Step One and how you can begin the process of asking your partner for more support.


What are some things that your partner already consistently does for you in your relationship?

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Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus Summary Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus Guide Handle Conflicts Lovingly

Just as loving communication saves relationships, hurtful arguments destroy relationships.

Couples who fight all the time gradually fall out of love due to growing tension. Couples who never fight end up falling out of love due to suppressed emotions. In order to maintain a successful relationship, you and your partner must learn to avoid arguments when possible. But when you do have an argument you must communicate lovingly.

How to Stop Conflicts Before They Start

As a general rule, you and your partner should try never to argue. Instead of fighting over disagreements, discuss the pros and cons of each person’s point of view. During these discussions, remember to speak in a loving, respectful, and approving manner—do your best to fulfill your partner’s primary love needs throughout the conversation.

The closer you are to someone, the greater the potential for hurt feelings. You must remember that your words have incredible power to deeply hurt your partner. And your partner has the power to hurt you deeply, as well. Hurt feelings don’t usually stem from the argument itself, but from how you communicate during the argument. The way you say something means...

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Shortform Exercise: Write a Letter of Love

One of the best ways to communicate nonverbally in times of conflict is to write a Letter of Love. Every Letter of Love that you write should include expressions of your anger, your sadness, your fears, your regrets, and your love—followed by your desired response.


Think back to a conflict you’ve had in one of your personal or romantic relationships. Do your best to put yourself back there and remember all of the emotions you were feeling at the time. Write a Letter of Love in the box below, including your desired response:

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Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus Summary Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus Guide Nurture Love in All Its Phases

Think of your relationship as a garden—understand that you will need to put work into keeping your love alive and growing. You will need to treat your garden differently as the “seasons” (or phases) of your love change:

  • Spring: Falling in love is a lot like springtime. Your love is budding and everything feels warm and easy. During spring, you must remember that nothing stays perfect forever.
  • Summer: As you get more comfortable in love, you’ll begin to realize that your partner isn’t perfect. The first “weeds” (or disagreements) begin to grow and must be plucked. During summer, you must remember that relationships are not easy. You have to be willing to work hard under the hot sun to nurture your partner’s needs.
  • Autumn: Once you’ve put in hard work during the summer phase, you have the chance to reap the rewards and enjoy the harvest. This is a golden phase in which love matures. During autumn, remember to appreciate the beautiful love you’ve worked for.
  • Winter: In the winter phase, love withers and pulls back within. You and your partner will hide away in the cave and the bottom of the wave in an effort to grow. During winter, remember to...

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Shortform Exercise: Fulfill the Primary Love Needs

Men and women each have 6 primary needs that must be fulfilled in order to freely give and receive love in a relationship. Consider how the 12 kinds of love play a role in your romantic relationship.

  • Men primarily need trust, acceptance, appreciation, admiration, approval, and encouragement. On Mars, every man instinctively knew to show their love for each other in these primary ways.
  • Women primarily need caring, understanding, respect, devotion, validation, and reassurance. On Venus, every woman instinctively knew to show their love for each other in these primary ways.


What kind or kinds of love do you give most freely to your romantic partner? Do you tend to give the kind of love your partner needs or the kind of love that you crave for yourself?

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Table of Contents

  • 1-Page Summary
  • Introduction
  • Different Behaviors of Men and Women
  • Exercise: Help Your Partner Support You in Stressful Times
  • Men and Women’s Intimacy Cycles
  • Improve Communication in Your Relationship
  • Exercise: Improve Communication in Your Relationship
  • Understand How Your Partner Keeps Score
  • Achieve a Reciprocal Relationship
  • Exercise: Get the Support You Need
  • Handle Conflicts Lovingly
  • Exercise: Write a Letter of Love
  • Nurture Love in All Its Phases
  • Exercise: Fulfill the Primary Love Needs