Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus by John Gray

“What we’ve got here is (a) failure to communicate”

( from the movie Cool Hand Luke)

It is an urban myth that a writer has arrived when pirated copy of his books are sold on the footpaths of India. By that measure, John Gray has certainly done very well with this book. At least a large part of the success of this book must be attributed to the fact that dudes like to gift books to chicks that they are trying to impress, and maybe they want to show how sensitive they are by buying sweet -syrupy titles like this one. But jokes aside, there is plenty of value in this book.

Don’t judge the book by the use of the cheesy metaphor. Men Mars, Women Venus, surely sounds like bull shit. But the author uses many such metaphors in this book to communicate many good points about relationships. To be more specific, he manages to communicate many good points about how couples can communicate better with each other. It is indeed a communication tour de force.

But is a successful relationship only about good communication?

Well to answer the question we will have to delve a little deeper into the dark arts of self help writing and melancholic topic of failed relationships. All self help writers make their audience believe that they can make it big in business, or as entrepreneurs or as husbands. Suppose someone did pick this book, would it save his troubled marriage or improve an otherwise rocky relationship?

Let’s run a thought experiment. Divide all men and women into 100 personality types each. Now imagine yourself as having one of those 100 personality types. For you, the 100 personality types of females can be ranked in an order. Female 1 is most compatible for you (she will make your heart sing all the powerful love ballads) and you will detest and loathe female 100 within a matter of few minutes of coming across her.

Female 2-5 will make you very happy too. Females 99-95 will still make you cringe. I hope you get the drift. Females in the range 40-60 will neither upset your nor arouse any passions in you (except maybe the more primal ones, which even female 100 can do, guys being what they are).

So what are the odds that you will find the female 1. Well dear reader, the odds are not in your favour. Sure if you came across female 1, chemistry will be instant, fireworks will follow and trousers will be unzipped. But what if you came across female 2 to female 10, before you ever came across female 1. Chemistry will not be instant but still great, sparks may follow and once a while a few fireworks and trousers will be unzipped. Thing is you will be tricked into thinking that this is as good as it gets and settle for it, ending your quest for female 1.

What about female 20-30. Chemistry will take some time to develop. There will be certainly sparks but lot of dry and boring patches (though trousers will still be unzipped). You will be tricked into thinking that this is as good as it gets and you will tell yourself all that love baloney only happens in movies. You will have to find your happiness in other things such as food, sports and travelling. It’s not your fault. You were just unlucky in love.

If I managed to communicate my point well in the last three paragraphs, you would have realized that finding the right female (or male) is more than anything else a matter of luck. You never know what sequence of females (or males) would come into your life. Female 1 and Female 100 would evoke stark emotions in your head, but it will get really muddy in the middle. And that is why failed relationships would always remain a staple diet for sitcoms and romantic comedies.

So how good is the book in the situation – Men are from Mars and Women are from Venus. It can only help a person who has been lucky to be in a relationship with a compatible partner. You cannot do much if you were tricked into marrying female 41. But if you married female 1 -20, sure the book can help you a lot.

And this is the dark secret self help books do not reveal. John Gray would not want to reduce his market to 1/5, would he. Yes you can make a lot of difference in your life with a lot of hard work. But externalities (like lady luck, genetic blessings, right parents, intellectual endowments) play a large part as well. In many situations they play a lesser part. In finding partners, they play a much bigger part.

– Amaresh


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