Hacking Hormones in a Relationship

Over three years I watched the DVD lectures by evolutionary fitness guru Art De Vany. In those seven hours I learned a lot about hormones and how they applied to human performance. Using what I learned, I made several changes in my life which ended up yielding a positive health outcome. Because I was in tune with how my hormones were being triggered, those changes did not require massive amounts of willpower. Timing nutrition and training in a way that promoted optimal hormone expression made the body composition benefits I experienced seem almost effortless.

A few days ago I saw a reference to a relationship video titled Venus on Fire, Mars on Ice by John Gray. My gut reaction was negative because my opinion of the relationship advice industry is highly cynical. The industry caters to women who are unhappy and looking for validation that someone else is to blame for that unhappiness. This is the type of message that generates positive reviews and word-of-mouth buzz that sells books and seminars. Perhaps I am hopelessly naive on this point, but I do have an economics background and we all know in business that the customer is always right. Start telling the customer that they might be wrong and they will take their business elsewhere.

For whatever reason, I decided to watch the video. I ended up watching the 1 hour 37 minute video twice. I’m so glad I did. Now I know why I have been such a poor predictor of relationship outcomes. Ones that I assumed were solid ended up being doomed and ones that appeared rocky were actually solid. Just like De Vany taught me about nutrition, there is also a timing component associated with the hormones in male-female relationships.

In the speech, you will learn how men and women are wired differently and how as a society we have failed to understand this. This isn’t psychology. It’s biology.

Venus on Fire, Mars on Ice – John Gray (June 22, 2012) 

Venus on Fire, Mars on Ice: Hormonal Balance - The Key to Life, Love and Energy
Venus on Fire, Mars on Ice: Hormonal Balance – The Key to Life, Love and Energy by John Gray Ph.D.

Lecture Notes

Not everyone will find time to watch the video or read his book. Here are some of the ideas covered. The video covers much more.

  • We are living in a world with excessive estrogen, much of it environmental.
  • Estrogen suppresses testosterone in men.
  • The average 58-year-old man has more estrogen than the average 58-year-old woman.
  • When a man has high levels of estrogen his body stops producing testosterone.
  • Excessive estrogen in women can reduce progesterone levels.
  • Belly fat in men is a huge source of estrogen.
  • In indigenous cultures, men and women maintain healthy hormonal output well into old age.
  • Stress attacks the immune system. Chronic stress can lead to heart disease and cancer.
  • Women are more stressed now than ever before and more stressed than men.
  • Testosterone is the stress-lowering hormone for men.
  • Oxytocin is the stress-lowering hormone for women.
  • Testosterone in women suppresses Oxytocin.
  • When women engage in work that involves risk, danger, planning or is related to time and space, they increase Testosterone output, which feels good at first, but because Oxytocin is suppressed, their cortisol levels rise.
  • Dr. Gray mentioned that when women soldiers return from combat roles they always get divorced. The job creates a masculine hormonal outcome.
  • The #1 inhibitor of Oxytocin is being in a hurry – the feeling of “have to”.
  • Unconditional giving lowers stress in women. Conditional giving doesn’t.
  • Men want to feel masculine, which requires being around femininity.
  • A common cause of relationship trouble is role reversal. The woman becomes too masculine or the man too feminized.
  • Talking about stress lowers stress levels for women.
  • Talking about stress raises stress levels for men. Men are designed to forget.
  • Men are wired to be able to shift away from stress better than women.
  • When you put a hormone into your body, your body stops making it.
  • Taking testosterone increases prostate cancer risk.
  • Bodybuilders can have very low testosterone levels due to inadequate rest.
  • To increase testosterone use it up and then rest. Take a nap.
  • When men are exposed to danger their testosterone spikes. If that experience continues and they feel powerless, their estrogen levels will rise. Their hormones are instructing them to become more submissive as a survival strategy.
  • When men are grumpy or moody they are showing signs of estrogen dominance, because they feel some level of powerlessness.
  • The male brain is more left dominant, which involves time, space, and reward.
  • The female brain is more right dominant, which involves relationships.
  • Engaging in “tit for tat” arguing is the worst thing men can do.
  • Under stress, women have twice the memory as men.
  • Men are happy when their woman is happy.
  • A man can not make a woman happy, but he can make her happier.
  • Men can supplement with Tongkat Ali to increase testosterone.
  • Lithium Orotate is a supplement for reducing stress and improving mood.
  • Dr. Gray talks about the Tyrosine and 5-HTP supplements for stress reduction and their role in correcting ADHD.

The takeaway lesson is that men are becoming more feminine and women are becoming more masculine and this isn’t good for our health and our relationships. I have some more thoughts on this topic, but this post is getting long. I’ll pick this up in a future post. It is a fascinating topic.


Add yours

  1. Athol at marriedmansexlife.com, and in his book, delves into some of these issues, although he mostly deals with psychological issues. Also, I found Gray’s older Mars-Venus books, though fodder for much general ridicule, to be very helpful on a practical level.

  2. @jim
    i know what you are talking about. i learned that my strong alpha wasn’t enough. i needed to sprinkle in some beta to get the results i wanted.


    thx for posting this. i have been fascinated by hormones and optimizing them for the last 6 months or so. funny thing is i have no idea what me T levels actually are.

  3. @Chuck
    Not to hijack this post, but I found your comment amusing, because I was the exact opposite. 🙂

  4. @jim
    quite honestly before i read the book, i did too. thought being more beta meant being more feminine or weak. for me it just meant helping around the house a bit more. i don’t get to read as much but the sacrifice has been worth it.

  5. Michael: you forgot to mention one really really super important thing for men: stay the hell off Facebook. Facebook is all about estrogen.

  6. Michael: seriously a great post, thanks for sharing this. In hindsight some of the points you mention are intuitively obvious. But most of them I didn’t know at all. Thanks.

  7. @Scott – The video does mention Facebook being a problem for women. Females seek out replacements for face-to-face connections in social networks, but whereas real connections produce oxytocin, Facebook doesn’t.

  8. First time poster, long time lurker. Thanks for posting this! I listened to the video and found it to be very interesting. I will definitely apply what I learned when dealing with my wife. I think I’ll even buy the book 🙂

  9. @Doug – Welcome! Let us know if it works.

  10. I’m in the boonies, and don’t have 3 days to dedicate to watching the video on dialup. Can you tell me if there were any studies mentioned where various hormone levels were actually measured ? Or is this all theoretical?

    I can certainly agree with the “women talk out stress, men just leave” observation.

  11. @mleuch – I have a hold on the book, which should have references to how the studies were done. John Gray is pretty high profile, so I doubt this is theoretical. Some of it I knew before, but he connected it to a relationship angle that I hadn’t considered.

    Once I go through the book, I’ll do a follow-up post.

  12. Interesting post. I’m reviewing the video now.

    Disclosure: I’m more than a little annoyed that the synopsis is ambivalent to other than hetero relationships, gender identification, etc., but I’m looking past that for now.

  13. @Justin – I have the book now. There is sadly no index in the book, but it appears at first glance that it just covers hetero relationships. This should be a quick read.

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