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Home / WLF FamilySaid / Comment by Mellie

  • 07/31/2002
  • WildlandFire.com Team
  • 0 Comment

Hi All,

Nice job on familysaid. I’ve been enjoying the support and advice you’re giving each other here. Nerd had some good comments to PT (7/17) about gender differences. Pop psychology books talk about how differently men and women view and relate to the same incident, the same relationship, the same act; one book said it’s like they’re from different planets. That book takes it a little to extreme; there’s more that men and women have in common, but there is truth in it. Lately there’s research using PET scans (brain activity) simultaneously with men and women performing tasks. The brain is wired differently based on gender. One thing more… if you add in fire addiction, it’s like a man and a woman in relationship are from different galaxies.

I haven’t reviewed the research lately, but Vicki Helgison a social psychologist at Carnegie Mellon University some years ago did some good research on gender and perceptions of LOVE and RELATIONSHIP. Her research found that men and women are more alike than different in their definitions and descriptions of what love is and what actions and thoughts define it, but there are differences. The thing I found most interesting was her finding regarding love and sex –and I think it’s something to keep in mind when tying in with your SO again for the first time… She found that women in a relationship are more likely to say that being in love with someone precedes making love with them. Men on the other hand, are more likely to say they must be in love if they’ve acted the part. In other words, where sex is involved, for women it’s more likely that actions follow perceptions; whereas for men it’s more likely that perceptions follow actions and the reviewing of the actions. Now you could say we knew that a long time ago, but it wasn’t scientifically shown until Vicki’s research. And think of the implications for the reunion… If he wants his buddy there for the first dinner, maybe he’s sharing a member of his other family with you. What an honor.

Vicki also worked on factors influencing the survival of long distance relationships. I don’t remember the results of that one or even know if it got published, but I would bet social support during the separation and preparation for re-entry were key.

Finally, at least for this post…

Here’s one thing that has surfaced in many studies on relationship, including marriage– and marriage has better health consequences for both men and women, but especially more for men.

But this is what I find interesting. Women are more likely to name another woman as their best friend – even when married. Men are more likely to name a woman as their best friend. So in some ways, wildland firefighters who are men and who don’t have a supportive partner are more at risk for poor health than those in many other professions. In fact, I think firefighting as a profession rated second when ranked on stressfulness — behind the President. (The rating I saw was from a few years ago and I don’t know if the military was one category. I think that also might be high if it’s wartime.)

This is probably too much dry stuff for this one post, but I often think about the men I love, the research and its implications, my own experiences with fire, and sometimes marvel that we do as well as we do.

Parting bit of advice I have come to live by. “Hold tight with open arms.”

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