Who's Happier?

Who's Happier?

Bob
Bob

July 31st, 2008, 12:49 pm #1

Men or Women?

http://gmy.news.yahoo.com/v/9058759

I'm sure the answers differ greatly by culture -- as I've been reminded many times, I will preface my comments by saying my observations pertain only to U.S. society:

I find quite the opposite from this report:

I think men are happiest overall when young. We have our goals, our dreams. Everything we value as men are in greatest supply in our youth: Physical strength and stamina, sexual attrativeness and prowess, health and abilities (both mental and physical). Socially, we are most in demand in our youth. I especially recall fondly (and warn my young sons not to rely upon) how just being male made one acceptable to females, especially during the late teens to early 20's. I wasn't rejected for not having enough earnings, material possessions or accomplishments -- I was considered to be worthwhile, with plenty of time to "prove myself".

Somehow, as the 30's progress toward the 40's, this changes. We see how things worked out in our lives, and so do others. Its probably still fine if you're Tom Cruise, or George Clooney, or even Harrison Ford. They proved themselves, they are wealthy and still have hair. But, for the bulk of men -- our dreams didn't materialize, we didn't accomplish so much, we got paunchy/balding. Health problems start to mount. We may be struggling with finances and subject to unemployment via down-sizing and outsourcing. While middle-aged women seem to experience a sexual awakening, the aging man's libido and potentency tend to wane with the rest of his softening, once-hard body. Socially . . . men have spent their lives having mostly superficial relationships with others. As they age, fewer people care for their company or think they have much worth listening to. Once admiring women see the shortcomings of the aging male . . . as the workshop presenter noted, "When I reach about 53, I lost my gender. No one cared anymore if I was male or female. I was not in the running."

I cannot speak so definitely for women, but I note how uncertain and insecure teen girls of my generation were. They were always worried about their attractiveness, if they dressed with the latest fashion (or could afford to), if boys liked them, if girls liked them, if they were seen as "too smart" or "not pretty enough." I'm sure some of this has changed over time. But, youth seems to be an anxious and uncertain time for women -- "Will I marry?" "Will I have children?" "What will I do with my life?" They seem to want and need approval from others, male and female, more than young males do.

But, as women get into their 30's and older, they tend to find themselves, learn who they are and what they want, and they thrive at things like friendships and emotional intinmacy that males usually struggle with. If they have children, this becomes central to their purpose and well-being. I think middle-aged women come to accept their imperfections and enjoy their sexuality (assuming their male counterparts aren't too broke down to perform . . if so, there are always younger men).

I have worked with geriatric populations, and my observations have been that elderly women maintain their abilities better and longer than men. They maintain their interests better and longer. Elderly men tend to see their social world and interests keep dwindling -- elderly women have each other for friendship and activities, as the men tend to stay alone and idle.

My take:

Happiness for men is greatest during teens - 20's - early 30's. After that, its gradually downhill (with periods of accerlerated decline along the way)

Happiness for women is greatest during their mid-30's and older. So long as money holds out and health problems are manageable, they tend to do much better with the aging process than men.
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Nat
Joined: January 1st, 1970, 12:00 am

July 31st, 2008, 2:30 pm #2

I think it's very hard to generalize about something like this. There are so many variables involved- health, financial success, marital success, family, etc. Each phase of life has it's challenges and rewards and pitfalls but it would vary from person to person depending on their particular circumstances and personalities. Some people have rewarding jobs that they enjoy- some hate their jobs. Some have a happy successful marriage, some don't. Some remain in good health all their life, some have poor health.

I will say that in general there is a sense of relief when you get up around 50, you have met your career goals or at least adjusted to what is practical, you have raised your kids and no longer have this huge responsibility, so if you are in good health and financially secure you have a sense of having done what had to be done and now can throttle back in take life easier. But again it can depend so much on individual circumstances.

By the way- I like that Yahoo news summary- nice way to catch up on the news without sitting through endless commercials- and much bigger picture than you usually get on net video.
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Bob
Bob

August 1st, 2008, 5:03 pm #3

And in many respects, I think one cannot generalize or come up with conclusions because there are too many variables, exceptions to the rules, etc. Yet, as with the news clip, we still make general statements about things.

I saw another story today that specified findings further, stating that "Older men are happier than older women." I find this especially hard to believe. True, women of that age tended to work much less than their male counterparts, and to work in lower-paying fields. As I mentioned, money problems anytime, but especially in old age, can greatly influence "happiness" . . which might mean older, poorer women are less happy. But, if the women were married, and (as with my own mother) they get half their late husbands' retirement income as well their own income, that could help to mitigate the money crunch.

Another area that could potentially affect older men and older women different is the prospects for romantic relationships. As we all know, women outlive men by an average of several years, so those men who survive could have a greater selection of females to choose from, while the women have fewer options. Again, a mitigating factor is: Do the women (or men) even care about that? From my work, I see that elderly women tend to maintain greater interest and enthusiasm for all sorts of things when compared to elderly men. On the face, one might think that would include relationships, but by the elder years what difference does it make what the gender of potential companions is? By that age, sex generally is on the back-burner, if its in the picture at all. And (again, my experience), women make better companions/friends to other women than men are. They have more to talk about, laugh about and there is less fussing between them.

True, elderly men can and do maintain interests and social connections, but think that is at a significantly reduced rate than for women. And, a lot of older women I've known grew tired of "grumpy, old men" and their demands. Not just older women, but increasingly women in their 50's, 40's, even 30's appear to feel that way -- that men are a pain and a bother, and . . who needs em?

Generally, family involvement continues more strongly in the lives of aging women than for aging men. There is something about "Mom" or "Grandma" that keeps families coming back, in a way that "ad" or Grandpa" does not. (Again, in my experience . . . and many variables -- like what kind of parent or grandparent the elderly person was toward family members -- influences family involvement too).

Add to this that women tend to maintain better health in their older years, and to maintain their cognitive and speech abilities better than men as they age, and I think there is every reason to believe that women could be the happier gender, and especially as they advance in age . . . regardless what the studies say.

(Note: My male friends and colleages also tend to disagree with my thoughts on this. But, I wonder if this reaction by males might be related to our intense desire to feel like we are in control, master of our environment, the "King" . . and to ignore facts to the contrary that would lead us to consider ourselves less able, vulnerable, less blessed and less in control. We men really want that -- to feel we are doing well and have some control).
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Bobby
Bobby

August 1st, 2008, 5:15 pm #4

Men or Women?

http://gmy.news.yahoo.com/v/9058759

I'm sure the answers differ greatly by culture -- as I've been reminded many times, I will preface my comments by saying my observations pertain only to U.S. society:

I find quite the opposite from this report:

I think men are happiest overall when young. We have our goals, our dreams. Everything we value as men are in greatest supply in our youth: Physical strength and stamina, sexual attrativeness and prowess, health and abilities (both mental and physical). Socially, we are most in demand in our youth. I especially recall fondly (and warn my young sons not to rely upon) how just being male made one acceptable to females, especially during the late teens to early 20's. I wasn't rejected for not having enough earnings, material possessions or accomplishments -- I was considered to be worthwhile, with plenty of time to "prove myself".

Somehow, as the 30's progress toward the 40's, this changes. We see how things worked out in our lives, and so do others. Its probably still fine if you're Tom Cruise, or George Clooney, or even Harrison Ford. They proved themselves, they are wealthy and still have hair. But, for the bulk of men -- our dreams didn't materialize, we didn't accomplish so much, we got paunchy/balding. Health problems start to mount. We may be struggling with finances and subject to unemployment via down-sizing and outsourcing. While middle-aged women seem to experience a sexual awakening, the aging man's libido and potentency tend to wane with the rest of his softening, once-hard body. Socially . . . men have spent their lives having mostly superficial relationships with others. As they age, fewer people care for their company or think they have much worth listening to. Once admiring women see the shortcomings of the aging male . . . as the workshop presenter noted, "When I reach about 53, I lost my gender. No one cared anymore if I was male or female. I was not in the running."

I cannot speak so definitely for women, but I note how uncertain and insecure teen girls of my generation were. They were always worried about their attractiveness, if they dressed with the latest fashion (or could afford to), if boys liked them, if girls liked them, if they were seen as "too smart" or "not pretty enough." I'm sure some of this has changed over time. But, youth seems to be an anxious and uncertain time for women -- "Will I marry?" "Will I have children?" "What will I do with my life?" They seem to want and need approval from others, male and female, more than young males do.

But, as women get into their 30's and older, they tend to find themselves, learn who they are and what they want, and they thrive at things like friendships and emotional intinmacy that males usually struggle with. If they have children, this becomes central to their purpose and well-being. I think middle-aged women come to accept their imperfections and enjoy their sexuality (assuming their male counterparts aren't too broke down to perform . . if so, there are always younger men).

I have worked with geriatric populations, and my observations have been that elderly women maintain their abilities better and longer than men. They maintain their interests better and longer. Elderly men tend to see their social world and interests keep dwindling -- elderly women have each other for friendship and activities, as the men tend to stay alone and idle.

My take:

Happiness for men is greatest during teens - 20's - early 30's. After that, its gradually downhill (with periods of accerlerated decline along the way)

Happiness for women is greatest during their mid-30's and older. So long as money holds out and health problems are manageable, they tend to do much better with the aging process than men.
Bob,

I haven't lived all that long (yet!), but I'm definitely much happier in my 20s than in my teens. In my teens, I was dealing with being disowned by my parents for being gay -- being thrown out of the house, etc. It wasn't until later that we reconciled -- they still don't accept my being gay, but at least they accept me as their son, and accept Ronnie as "someone important" in my life. I've gotten through all the deep depression that I went through in my teens, and definitely no longer even think about offing myself. I'm quite happy with the life Ronie and I have together, happy with how his parents accept me as their "son-in-law" and am now just a little above neutral about my own parents (a long way from the hatred I had from being ignored by them). I'm not sure that being happier once out of the teen years is normal, but many of my friends (mostly str8) had a horrible time dealing with their teanage years.

Hugz
Bobby
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Nat
Joined: January 1st, 1970, 12:00 am

August 1st, 2008, 9:34 pm #5

I agree that the teen years are a very stressful time- you are making the difficult transition between being a carefree kid with no responsibilities to an adult with many responsibilities. You are under great pressure to make good grades and get in a good college and prepare for a successful career- and at the same time you have many social pressures competing with other teens for boyfriends or girlfriends and social and athletic standing. And teens can be cruel- teasing peers unmercifully who don't fit in with the group.
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