Our guest this week is Dr. John Gray, author of the mega-bestseller Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus. He literally wrote the textbook for my wife Alyson’s communication class in college.
His new book, Beyond Mars and Venus, shows how women can get back in touch with their feminine side and actually boost a man’s testosterone levels.
In today’s episode of the show, John will tell us how we can bring passion back to our relationships by restoring our hormonal balance.
On the show, you’ll learn:
- Why love is like ice cream (biologically speaking)
- What the size of a man’s chest says about his testosterone needs
- How pesticides in food damage our hormones
- How your meals affect your relationships
- And much more…
JOHN GRAY, PHD: THE MAN BEHIND MARS AND VENUS
Abel: I am thrilled to be here this week with John Gray, PhD, the bestselling relationship author of all time. He’s written over 20 books, including the New York Times number one bestselling book of the last decade, Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus. His books have sold more than 50 million copies in 50 different languages around the world. You may have seen him on TED, Oprah, Larry King, Dr. Oz, Good Morning America, The Today Show, and many more.
He loves to stir things up. Dr. Gray, it’s an honor. Thank you so much for joining us.
Such a pleasure, Abel. This is such a great show. I’m honored to be with you.
Abel: Thank you. My wife, Alyson, literally read your book as a textbook in college. So in many ways our marriage, I suppose, is built upon your advice. So I hope you’re right!
That’s right. It’s helped a lot of people, I’ll say that.
Abel: It has. So, let’s start here. How does the state of our romantic relationships affect our physical and mental health?
Love is a natural state and happiness is a natural state.
You know, people ask me, “How does love affect your health? How does happiness, how does confidence, how does trust, how does safety, how does that all affect your health?” That’s just normal state. That’s a baby, just feeling this. What affects our health is what brings it down.
We are naturally healthy. Our body’s designed to be naturally healthy. We are designed to be happy, peaceful, fulfilled, enthusiastic, and in a romantic relationship, we’re designed to be passionate and loving.
This is the way we’re designed. And what happens is when we get blocks to the natural design, then we have problems in our relationships, we have problems in our health, and we have problems in our bodies. So the bottom line here is that if you have loving relationships, your stress will be lower, and when your stress is lower, your health will increase. And if you have a healthy body, it supports a loving relationship. It’s bidirectional.
Let’s imagine there was a pill that cured cancer. Every time, it cured cancer. You could give that pill to somebody who’s sitting in a dark room with no friends, and it won’t cure them.
So all good nutrition can do for us is provide the building blocks for the house, but it’s our social relationships that build the house. And social relationships doesn’t mean just marriage. It’s friendship, it’s community, it’s participation, it’s work, it’s reward, it’s vacation, it’s singing, it’s connecting, it’s walking, it’s exercising with the planet. These are all aspects of relationship.
What I see happening a lot is people fall in love. I’m married 31 years, I’m totally in love with my wife. I know the power of love and how great that is. That takes you to one of the highest levels of fulfillment if you can accomplish it. Most people experience a glimpse of it when they fall in love.
HOW LOVE IS LIKE ICE CREAM (AND COCAINE)
The newness of a relationship stimulates high levels of dopamine; particularly, a sexually charged newness will stimulate, literally, heroin-like levels of dopamine in the same part of the brain as cocaine or dopamine or sugar. So it’s literally like ice cream.
When love doesn’t last, it’s kind of like they never really loved that person. It’s just like, I love ice cream. They love how they feel when they’re with that person and there’s nothing wrong with that. But we should keep in mind that the newness will bump up these brain chemicals and it will also bump up serotonin.
Serotonin is optimism and assuredness and peacefulness and so forth that you’re going to get what you need. Well, you can always imagine you’re going to get what you need if you have no history. It’s only after disappointment: “Oh, they’re not perfect. Oh, this happened, oh this happened. I thought that would happen.” That bumps down the serotonin back to the level of “Every human being is flawed and imperfect.” But every human being has beautiful qualities, wonderful qualities.
You know the old saying of, is the glass half full or is it half empty? Well, it’s half empty and it’s half full. When you can see the fullness along with the emptiness, then you’re a happy, fulfilled person, and that’s what our relationships can train us to be.
One of my messages is the 80/20 principle. I kind of took that idea from the time management courses, where they’ll often say people spend 80% of their time wasting it on things that aren’t productive and 20% of the time on what’s really earning a living and being most productive. What I see is that people will often spend 80% of their time and energy trying to make their relationship work, rather than switch it around and have a life that’s providing 80% of your fulfillment, your friendships, your worth, your self-love, your prayer, your personal growth, your exercise, your diet. All of these things are loving yourself.
Then what happens is you look to your partner for 20% of your fulfillment, and it takes you to a higher level.
One of my big messages in the new book is that men, we have to realize you cannot make a woman happy. Because, see, in the beginning, with all the newness and the lack of history, you do make her happy. I mean, I have daughters. The boy just calls back and they go, “Oh, he called, he called. What did he say?” All this excitement. I mean, talk about an easy relationship: just call her and she’s happy. But that’s not reality. Once they settle in, you really have to have good relationship skills in order to bring this up again and again and again. And that takes new insight and new skills to do.
LOVE IS ALL YOU NEED (TO BALANCE HORMONES)
That’s what my work’s all about. Forty years I’ve been teaching this stuff, and every year it evolves. I learn better and better skills to have a great marriage, lasting romance, great passion, as well as healthy hormone levels. We see so many women today and men with low testosterone and women with hormonal imbalance.
What’s going on is their body isn’t producing those hormones. It’s the relationships that stimulate hormones. There’s certain relationships that will stimulate higher estrogen in a woman. For example, if I take my wife on a romantic date, it will bump her estrogen up. If we’re playing cards with friends it will bump her progesterone up. So these are different types of relationships and activities that will stimulate different hormones.
Let’s say there’s a bear outside, and my wife says, “John, sit down. I’m going to go out and check out the danger.” What will happen is my estrogen will go up and her testosterone will go up, and when she comes back in, I’ll be saying, “Would you hold me? I’m still scared.” And nothing’s going to happen that night.
But if you reverse it, and I say, “Okay, hold on, I’m going to go out and check. I’ll do the dangerous thing,” my testosterone will go up, and her estrogen is going to go up, because she feels this… That’s called a pair-bonding relationship. It will stimulate a hormonal brew that will cause us to stay up all night and have a fun time.
Abel: Right. The way you’re talking about this, I’m thinking that social stimulation is almost like a nutrient. We need that dose every once in a while to make, endogenously, those hormones that some people are trying to take exogenously, with medication.
Exactly. We’re designed to make hormones.
We’ve never in history taken hormones. One of the dangers of taking hormones—certainly the synthetic hormones doctors prescribe, they’ve proven now—from my point of view, when I see all the research, is that they cause cancer. We know that’s the case.
The danger for so many men with low testosterone—even teenagers now with low testosterone, which is shocking—what’s happening is we have an easy fix. Go and take some testosterone creams that make your body lean for a while. Then you get boobs, your estrogen levels will go up, and then your testosterone, your actual testicles, will begin to atrophy, because that’s their main job.
When you take away their job, they just get lazy, and it takes a while to get them working again. But thank goodness we can learn why we have low testosterone as men, and how to naturally rebuild it. And the same thing for women, even after menopause when women’s ovaries aren’t making as much estrogen—they still make a little tiny bit, by the way, but the main amount comes from the adrenal glands. But women have these menopausal symptoms because they have adrenal fatigue, because long before menopause, their hormones are already out of balance, and they were actually getting a lot of their energy from cortisol, the stress hormone, which does give you energy, but it depletes you of energy over time.
Abel: How do you endogenously build the hormones we need? For example, let’s start with some of the women’s hormones. Estrogen.
Now, when I get into this, this is where people are going to have to listen to this again and again, or get my new book, Beyond Mars and Venus.
There are two major causes of women’s hormones being out of balance. But what we’re seeing today is that women’s stress levels are higher, their testosterone levels in comparison to estrogen tend to be higher, and the estrogen tends to be lower. So these are dynamics. When a woman’s estrogen is lower than it’s supposed to be at that time in her cycle, her stress will go up.
So let’s map out a healthy, happy woman’s menstrual cycle. She has her period, which is three to five days. Now, for the next five days, her estrogen levels will slowly build. Before we just look at chemicals here, let’s look at the psychological attributes that go along with these hormones. When a woman has estrogen increasing, when it’s at a low level, she doesn’t feel like she needs anybody, so she’s very autonomous. So for five days after her period she’s going to be feeling very confident and self-sufficient, more self-reliant. Basically, her testosterone levels, which is the independent hormone, is going to be starting to rise as well, but with estrogen, slowly rising together. That’s when she’s getting the most of her creative inspiration; she’s going to feel fulfilled.
Say you’re married to her. She’s got no complaints for those five days. Then something happens. Five days after her period is over, her estrogen levels begin to surge; they double, and they double for ovulation to take place. So now, she’s going to be able to get pregnant. Ovulation occurs 10 to 11 days after her period. Now when her estrogen levels increase, what happens is, her needs increase. So suddenly she feels, “I need more from you. I need more pair bonding.”
Now, pair bonding is the experience where she is getting something she can’t give herself—that would be attention, that would be affection, that would be touch, that would be interest, that would be romance, that would be carrying a box for her, that would be opening a door for her, that would be helping her solve a problem, that would be doing something for her that she’s not doing for herself.
Now, romantic attention is going to produce higher levels of estrogen than anything, but her body needs to double estrogen to cope with stress. If her estrogen levels don’t rise, her stress levels will rise, because the body is designed every month to have this high level of estrogen. Even at that time, the design of a woman’s body is such that when the estrogen doubles, her serotonin levels drop, which cause her to feel even more, “I need the help of somebody.” So that’s called a pair-bonding relationship.
Now, romance is going to do it the easiest; it’s the most powerful. But going to see your doctor, for example, is a pair-bonding experience. Which is probably why there are so many more women who will see their doctors than men. Or go to a coach. Go to a therapist. Go take a class. Be in a class where there’s a teacher, where you’re learning something from someone you didn’t know. That’s a pair bonding experience.
So you are needing something, and somebody is providing for you. And you are giving them something in return. It can be money. But when it’s love, when you’re giving love in return, which will be a romantic relationship, it’s much more powerful. Because when she is giving love, she’s also producing a brain chemical called oxytocin. When you’ve got high estrogen levels and you’ve got oxytocin, it’s the most powerful brew to lower her cortisol levels, to restore normal.
Which means her digestion is better. Her immune function is better. Her happiness levels are there. She’s able to appreciate what she has.
Now, this is like, really important: when estrogen levels don’t double, then her ability to access her love is limited. This is really important.
I’ll share an experience where my estrogen levels were very high. I was more my female side. I was, at one point in my life 40 years ago, homeless. And I was living on the beach. It was scary and I was hungry and I had no money. I had been a monk for nine years and decided to come back out into the world, and I had no money. I just figured opportunity would come. It eventually did, when I said, “Okay, I need to go back to school.”
But I didn’t know how it was going to come. I ran out of money and I was on the beach preaching to these homeless people, and it was very funny. It was actually scary too. But we’re sitting around a fire and they wanted me to drink a beer. They said, “You know, John, you should enjoy yourself.” And I said, “No, I don’t drink.” And then they said, “Well, we have so much fun listening to you. But we have no idea what you’re talking about.”
Now that was an important lesson for me, because I realized: all this suffering and I am not making a difference. So I said, “Homelessness is not for me.” Of course, the difference is I was educated and I had a family. I could ask my mother for some money to help me go back to school and so forth. So everything turned out alright. It doesn’t turn out alright for them. And that’s one of the sad things in our society.
But, moving on to this whole dynamic… When I was hungry, I happened to bump into a friend of mine. And this is 40 years ago. He said, “You know, just in case you need some extra money, John.” I didn’t tell him I was broke or I was hungry and I was scared. I was too proud. And he just said, “Here’s $50 in case you need extra money.” And I’ll never forget that.
Everybody has an experience where you really needed something and somebody was there for you, and you never forget it.
That’s because you’re in touch with, “I’m really hungry. I need something.” That’s what women go through every month. Their estrogen levels are supposed to double, which increases their need for love dramatically, and then they bond. And that bonding happens during those four, five days, and it will last for 28 days.
It’s going to last until the next time. And if she doesn’t get the bonding during those four days, five days, two days before the ovulation, two days after, around that time, then she’s going to feel like there wasn’t enough pair bonding. Okay, that’s when she’ll say things like, “You never take me out. You never listen to me. But I didn’t get my hugs. Why are you making a mess? And I do everything myself. If you would just do this, I would be happy.” Because there’s this place of emptiness in there, and it will last the whole month to various degrees. What she’s going to try to do is to make up for it. It will be like, “Oh, I didn’t eat a meal. Now I want to eat that meal.”
But guess what? For the next 18 days, pair bonding doesn’t lower her stress. It’s progesterone dominance, that’s all. After ovulation, progesterone is the hormone that lowers her stress, not estrogen. She needs to have a certain amount of estrogen, so there needs to be some pair bonding, but not as much as before. She needs progesterone, and progesterone is produced by two types of behavior.
One is called social bonding, which is different from pair bonding. It’s where what you are getting from somebody is what you are giving them. You know guys, when we’re dating, there’s the friend zone. When you get into the friend zone, there’s no passion. That’s because you’re not pair bonding.
Pair bonding is when you’re giving something they can’t give to themselves, and you’re not getting the same thing back. You get something different back. So there’s a big difference there as polarity gets set up in pair bonding. And in social bonding, there’s no polarity. We’re all playing cards together. We’re all going for walk together. We’re all singing together. We’re in a class together. We’re doing our aerobics together. That’s social bonding activity. Social bonding produces progesterone. If you are in the second part of the cycle, progesterone is the hormone that lowers a woman’s stress, and estrogen doesn’t.
So, pair bonding doesn’t lower her stress; she doesn’t get the pair bonding during those five days, her brain is still looking for the pair bonding. So she keeps looking in the wrong direction in order to experience the fulfillment, and the guy is frustrated because he is sitting there trying to be rational, logical, explaining to her, “We did go out on a date. We have done this; you shouldn’t be upset about this. This is not a big deal, and why are you so needy?” And when we do this as men, it’s like pouring gasoline on a fire. It just gets worse. Our job at those times is not to make her happy. We have to let go of that; otherwise, when she’s not happy, we take it personally. We get frustrated. It’s like, “Hey, yesterday I gave you a hug at work, and now today you’re saying it’s not enough.” So it’s this complicated mess.
When you have an understanding of the biological basis, it all makes sense.
So now, when she’s upset, or she is wanting to talk about what’s missing in the relationship and how you’re working too much, or you weren’t there when she needed you, or the problems with her coworkers—whatever it is—instead of trying to fix it, what you learn to do is realize your job is not to make her happy and solve her problems. Your job is to solve the most important problem, and that will keep your testosterone up because you’re successful at it. That is to create safety.
MAN’S PHYSIOLOGICAL NEED? TO CREATE SAFETY
This is what men have done for a million years. This is what men’s job has always been with women is to create safety. And when women feel safe, then they can make the progesterone or they can make the estrogen. Because when a woman doesn’t feel safe, then her body goes into defense mode. When her body goes into defense mode, she now becomes a warrior to protect herself, and that’s her testosterone.
So her testosterone surges, which then will lower her progesterone if she’s in the second part of the cycle; or if she’s in the first part of her cycle, her testosterone will lower her estrogen. And this doesn’t mean testosterone is not a good thing for women—it is—but too much compared to estrogen is not a good thing. Everything is about balance.
When I talk about this, people think, “Well, do I need to get my hormones checked? Do I need to be balanced? What’s going on?” No. You just need to get love and support at the right time of the month and know how to get it. If your partner is not giving it to you, go talk to your doctor. And if it’s during the second part of your cycle, go play cards, sing, be in a group, go learn any type of activity, a support group. It’s 80%. Only 20% has to do with your romantic relationship and if you get it at the right time, then the rest of the month, you’re connected all the time and it’s feeling really good and there’s not that much neediness associated with the woman’s hormonal balance.
So there’s a quick primer. This is like survival knowledge for men. That’s why I call it Beyond Mars and Venus—Mars and Venus, men are from Mars—to improve communication and to understand our differences.
But here’s what’s happening today. I’ve just described what normal health is. Now, what the problem is: As women are becoming more independent—and this is the whole trend of the last 30 years. More independent than ever before in the world. In our whole history, this has never happened, where women didn’t need men. So if you don’t need a man, how does your estrogen level go up? You become like a man, who should have lower estrogen levels. He should at least have 10 times more testosterone than any woman, and women should have at least 10 times more estrogen. And for her to be turned on to a man, like really turned on, she needs 20 times more estrogen than the man.
This is what happens in relationships. As men go too far to their estrogen side, women can’t be turned on to them. She can only be turned on to a man who has testosterone levels 10 times higher than hers, and when her estrogen is 20 times higher than his. So we can measure these couples where in marriage, it’s already proven that men’s testosterone levels go down. If they have children, it goes down further, because love produces estrogen. You love your wife, your estrogen’s going to go up; you love your children more, your estrogen goes up.
It causes your testosterone levels to take a dip unless you’re able to know the techniques to keep your testosterone up, and that’s what I’m teaching. I’m an example of that. My testosterone levels are 25% higher than when I was a young man. I’m 65 years old. Guys say, “How do you know your testosterone levels?” Well, I did have them tested back when I was 30, and I tested them when I was 50, and they’d dropped. And then I focused on how to rebuild testosterone. And then at 65, basically, they’re 25% higher.
You can test, but you need to have a control, because there’s no one amount of testosterone that’s right for every man. We’re all in the range of 10 to 50 times more than a woman. Often it’s the size of your chest that determines the amount of testosterone your body requires to be in an equilibrium state.
So when your chest is big, these guys with big chests, they need like three times more testosterone than me to be normal. Whereas I’m not going to need as much, but I still need to have my right amount. And what lowers testosterone, we have to learn what that is. What kept testosterone up in the past is that women needed men. Men would come back from a trip, they’d say, “He’s alive, he’s alive.” It’s almost like a dog being happy to see you.
“He’s alive, he’s alive.” Like the kids are when I would come when they were little. “He’s here, Daddy’s here.” That’s a huge boost of testosterone. But the biggest boost is when women, the woman you love and you protect, appreciates you and needs you for that.
Women don’t need men today. So where do we get our big boost of testosterone that we used to get for a million years? That was the big deal. And so where does it come from?
Well, understanding the dilemma of women today, because they’re way on their testosterone side, their independent side, what they need. They’ll tell you this. They think, “Am I a man? Am I a woman? I don’t even feel like a woman anymore. I feel overwhelmed. I can’t turn off my brain. I’m busy doing and doing and doing. I can’t relax. I can’t enjoy myself. I can’t sleep at night.” These are all symptoms of women out of balance, too far on their male side, which is measurable with lower estrogen levels or lower progesterone levels. So what women need in a relationship today, and the most powerful way is through the quality of relationships as we mentioned. An intimate relationship has extra benefits, not absolutely necessary for everybody, but it has extra benefits to bring a woman back to her vulnerability. Now, there are a lot wonderful books written today on vulnerability.
Vulnerability is what’s missing in women today, as they learn to reveal and find their vulnerable selves. People always look at vulnerability as your weaknesses. Of course, that’s because we look at femininity as weakness.
Part of my new message is helping people understand that men have a masculine side, and men have a feminine side. We also have estrogen. We also have testosterone. Women have a masculine side. They have testosterone. They also have a female side, estrogen. But when a woman is healthy and happy, she has 10 times more estrogen than a man. And a woman who’s turned on to a man will have a spike of 20 times more estrogen to be turned onto him. So this is where a woman needs to have this higher estrogen, and it does surge, and they’re changing all the time. But particularly, during those five days, it’s a given. She needs it and she’s not in touch with her female side. She doesn’t get it. She’s not even open to it. She doesn’t even know what she’s missing is a vulnerability that she has to achieve to get to that place. And women today don’t experience that level of vulnerability. It’s not weakness. It’s need.
The most vulnerable woman or man is the woman who is feeling happy to see you. That’s vulnerability. Men are attracted to vulnerability.
Everybody is talking about this, but nobody is pointing out that a happy woman, if she’s happy to see you because you came into the room, that’s the most vulnerable place to be, because she’s basically acknowledging, and she’s experiencing, “I need you in my life. You’re my ice cream. You’re filling me up and I’m so happy to see you. He’s great.”
It’s just like in the morning, I can’t believe how much my wife loves me. Particularly in the morning, when she’s not tired after a day of work. The vulnerability, she’s there. It’s just like, I don’t know, I’m sunshine to her or something. It’s just, I remember it every day, because men need to get a big dose of female vulnerability to increase your testosterone, because vulnerability says, “I need you,” and testosterone says, “I have what you need.” It’s the hero and it’s the damsel in distress.
The feminist movement is trying to tell women, “You don’t need men. You’re independent; you’re self-sufficient.” And I’m all for women expressing their independence. It just has to be balanced with femininity. Ironically, it’s the woman who talks about independence and glorifies independence the most who is angry at men and shut down from needing men, so she’s disconnected from her own female energy. And that’s where the happiness comes.
My happiness comes from my female side. It’s when I’m connecting, for example, with my children and my wife. There’s a sweetness. There’s a love. There’s a vulnerability.
I love my wife so much. She’s so precious. I give her hugs and it feels so, so good because I’m connecting to my female hormones, but I have strong enough testosterone that the female hormones, as they rise, the testosterone will go down. So you have to have high testosterone for your body type so you can endure the high estrogen as it’s rising, rising. You’re feeling love and it’s going down, down, down. And then you break the hug. Then you need to take time away from your family.
That’s why men have to work and men have always gone away to be set, to be independent. I do this myself. In Men Are from Mars, I talked about every man needing his cave. It’s his place. We are no longer relating to anybody. It’s my stuff. Nobody tells me what to do. It’s all about, I’m in control. It’s my mess. My mess, my cleanliness, whatever. I’m in charge of it. Every man has to visit that place to rebuild his testosterone, because you can’t rebuild your testosterone in the presence of love. Love lowers testosterone. But if it’s high, great. Then it comes back down into balance.
Here’s an example of that. When the Greek soldiers would go warring—warring as fight or flight—men’s testosterone, they’re all marching around. They’re together. They’re fighting. Their testosterone is pumping off the chart. Now, you’ll die if your testosterone stays that high. There’s something called too high or too low.
So your body wants to bring you back into balance. They’re figuring out, how do you get these guys back into balance? So when the Greek soldiers would come home, all of the unmarried women would go to the temple and have sex with the guys, and that would bring their testosterone down. They would say it would civilize them again; it would bring them back into the ability to relate rather than having to go to an extremely detached place where you can kill somebody. Because detachment is a male quality. And the danger today is, once again, too much of a good thing is not a good thing. They need to balance out the detachment that men have had to do typically male jobs.
You’re a truck driver, you’re a construction worker, you’re a dangerous worker, you’re a soldier. Men had those jobs because actually, those jobs would rebuild men’s testosterone levels. But for men, danger, we have to detach. Okay. We have to feel reliant; we have to feel in control. These were testosterone-stimulating jobs. Well, if men go too far that way, we’re not fulfilled in our lives. Then in the 60s, Robert Bly and various people came out and said we’ve got to follow our hearts. The warrior’s journey, opening the heart. Follow your bliss, that was a big thing. That’s opening up to your heart.
Your generation, you’ve grown up in the 60s, what we learned there, it’s like, “Hey, I’m not just going to sacrifice my life for everybody. I’m going to have a happy life. I want to be with my children. I want to make my wife happy. I want a beautiful life and a relationship. I want win-win relationships. It’s not all about, just go out there and kill.” So, what we’ve done is we’ve left the masculine to go to the feminine, which is good, but we can easily go too far. When you go too far, your estrogen goes up, your testosterone goes down, and that’s going to be the case of any man, or almost any man who has low testosterone, because estrogen has gone up too high.
Now that’s the behavioral side of it, which is, women on their male side need help to come back to their female side. If a man has sex with a woman who’s too far on her male side, he will go to his female side. Already, that will happen. That’s just the polarity of men and women, is you shift gears like that, and that’s a whole chapter in my book, explaining it in more detail. But that’s what happens.
Here’s an example of it. When I first realized it about 20 years ago, I had a client, and he was a very successful roofer. Made millions of dollars, the roofing company, and they put on the roofs in Hawaii and it was really great. And then he married this beautiful woman who was incredibly confident. She took over the business and doubled the profit.
So she was better at running the business than him, but he’s just sitting back, gained all this weight, passion went out of the marriage, no drive, no sexual attraction, nothing. And it’s like they were in role-reversal. She had become the male, working really, really hard and having all these problems. Not being able to turn off, because she was too far on her male side. He’s like, not being able to turn on. He’s just hanging out, watching TV, drinking beer, having fun in his life.
His health went down, and then they got a separation and he came back to life. First he went through a depression; then he had to come back to his self-reliance, and he had to start doing his own thing. He started losing weight, coming back to himself. Which is, he needed to come back to not being dependent on her, but coming back to his self-reliance.
I see this dynamic: Men will start out more in their male side, but they’ll shift, because they love the woman so much. And when you love, you connect. And you connect with a part of them that’s not being expressed. So if she’s way on her male side, men have to go to their female side in order to connect. Think about the north pole and the south pole of a magnet. That’s attraction: they will attract. But if you have two south poles, they will repel.
If a man is on his male side and he stays there, conditioned to be very masculine, and his wife goes to her male side, then you’ve got two men at home, and they’re going to repel if they’re heterosexual. Now, the same thing happens, is that the man (and men, deep inside, need love just as much as women do), in order to connect with her, because we want to solve her problems, make her happy, and do all that, we’ll shift to our female side in order to feel the attraction to her. But then there’ll be attraction for a while then she will feel repelled by us. Because there’s nothing to help bring her back to her female side. You actually keep her on her male side. So that’s called polarity. That’s another dynamic.
FOOD AND HORMONES: HOW YOUR PLATE AFFECTS YOUR RELATIONSHIPS
Now let’s go into the biological thing. Abel, your book, The Wild Diet, blows my mind. It’s so beautifully done, I’m going to recommend it to everybody. I love the way you communicate it.
So what’s happening today is when people eat this sort of Standard American Diet, they’re going to be exposed to pesticides. When they’re exposed to pesticides, pesticides go into our body, male and female, and they have the same effect. They bind to the estrogen receptor sites. So the brain gets a message after eating a meal of pesticides or meat that has hormones in it, as those hormones are variations of estrogen, and they will bind with the estrogen receptor sites. So you’ve just taken this hormone from outside into your body, which has never been done in history, never. And the body goes, “Oh.” These toxins actually bind with estrogen receptor sites, send the message to the brain, and say, “You have plenty of estrogen.”
Basically, when a woman has plenty of estrogen, she has just doubled it, she’s at ovulation, and she basically says, “Okay, I’ve got what I needed.” So estrogen is, “I’m fully satisfied. My female side is fully satisfied and I don’t need anything.” So again, that reinforces this thing where women don’t need men, women don’t need intimacy, but they get out of balance into their male side that says, “Everybody needs me.”
The phenomenon of women today is, “I’m overwhelmed because I promised to do this. They need me, they depend on me, I have to do this, my house has to be perfectly clean, I have to really good.” All this sort of obsession with pleasing other people, rather than, “What about me?” And you’ll hear women say this. They do everything for everybody but they do nothing for themselves. They have no time for themselves.
Abel: Right, right.
We’re in charge of our time, but they’ll create a life because their brain doesn’t even feel strongly. Because you know when you have to go to the bathroom, you find a bathroom. If you feel the need for it, you know, you go for it.
I was once on a flight from New Zealand to Australia and I was massively dehydrated, and they had no water on the plane. They didn’t bring water on the plane. I was massively dehydrated, and when I got off the plane, there was this huge immigration into Australia. It could have been like 45 minutes to get through. So I went to security and said, “I’m dehydrated. Give me water.” And they said, “Well, you can get water when you get through.”
I said,” No, I need water now.” And they said, “No, no, you can’t have it.” I said, “No, I’m dehydrated. No water on the plane, and I want water now! Right now! Get me water!” And they had to bring the police over. And the police said to go get in line. I said, “No, you don’t understand. I’m dehydrated. Give me water now!” And so then they all went, “We’re afraid of being sued,” and they brought in all these people. They put me in front of the line, they put me through, and they gave me water.
When you really need it, you get it, you know. So anyway, it’s a fun story to remember the idea, but the whole dynamic here is that women are not feeling their need, their vulnerability. They can become demanding, but it doesn’t come from this place of loving first, you see. When you really need, you want to give a lot of love to get what you need.
You anticipate, “Oh, here’s someone I can get love from,” and you immediately give them a lot of love, because you’re feeling that need and you’re able to trust. But when you’re on your male side, when testosterone goes up in women, trust goes down, and that’s a big issue for women, is learning how to trust.
OXYTOCIN: THE TRUST HORMONE
The big hormone everybody hears about that helps lower women’s stress is oxytocin. It’s called the trust hormone, because when you’re trusting, your testosterone goes down. Nobody knows scientifically why oxytocin lowers your stress. To me it’s obvious that when you’re trusting someone, you don’t have to protect yourself, right? You’re trusting, so oxytocin gets produced. You don’t have to protect yourself, so your sword comes down. When testosterone is your sword, and it goes down, it allows estrogen to rise.
The function of oxytocin in the brain is to lower your testosterone so your estrogen can go up. And all these romantic skills that I teach—I teach men how to listen and how to show affection and how to compliment—all these things that women need stimulate oxytocin, and they need it way more than ever before, because they’re so far on their testosterone side.
When women complain to me today as a therapist… If I was their grandmother, I’d be saying, “What are you complaining about? You live in Mill Valley, are you kidding? What have you got to complain about? This is a first world country. You’ve got nothing to complain about.”
But they do, because the new role for men is no longer to provide physical safety for women; it’s to provide emotional safety for women to go deeper into who they are.
That’s what all this does. Emotional safety allows their estrogen to balance this high level of testosterone, so in a sense, they need an extra new kind of support. And that’s why these advanced relationship skills are necessary if we want passion to last in a relationship. And it can; I’m an example of it. I help couples find it again, but so many young people, they get excited. They’re together, and then when the newness goes away, the passion goes away, because their hormones are out of balance, and they think, “Oh, I have to find somebody else. I have to find somebody else.”
Instead, they need to find within themselves the ability to make those passionate hormones. Once you’ve sort of clicked with somebody, to be able to sustain that through good communication skills, by creating the right polarity in the relationship, and by avoiding all the toxicity, just the toxicity in the world.
You can have the best relationships, but when those xenoestrogens come in (chemicals that the body thinks are estrogen), it takes women away from feeling their need for love. It also suppresses progesterone, so immediately, you get all these women with cramping and PMS and all these problems, because during the second part of their cycle, they need progesterone to lower their stress and the xenoestrogens inhibit progesterone.
The xenoestrogens also inhibit testosterone, which is why women become dry and so forth, but what happens is then, women have to defend themselves, continuing to try to do whatever it takes to push their testosterone up.
What you have to do is purify your body. Have the right relationship skills—look on that calendar, men. Now find out when her period is, and five days after that, make sure you’ve already planned a date. Make sure you’re totally into worshipping her at that time, and then she’s happy for the next 28 days. You’re like her hero.
Then you have your man cave, and then you have more fun together, and it’s not like you ignore her or anything. It’s just that the needs are less from her side, because she’s feeling like she ate a meal and she’s totally satisfied.
I love in your book that you have dinner be this fantastic meal, a feast, and then you’re not hungry the rest of the 24 hours. You can go almost the whole day. I have a little tiny breakfast, that’s it, and then I have this fantastic dinner, and you love it. My wife cooks for me at our house, and when you haven’t eaten all day, you really appreciate that food.
Abel: Because she loves you.
So I’m like, “Oh, this is great, honey. Thank you, this is delicious.” That’s an extra benefit.
FIGHT OR FLIGHT: HOW NOT TO TALK TO YOUR PARTNER
So now, let’s go further, which is, how do you make those hormones?
We have a dilemma today. When you’re stressed, your cortisol levels are elevated. When that happens, you can’t digest your food, even if you have a healthy diet. Even if you have a healthy diet, you can’t digest your proteins. You have to be able to digest your proteins fully in order to create peptides, amino acid peptides, that will make dopamine and make serotonin.
If you can’t digest your food because of stress, you really aren’t going to be able to enjoy your relationships.
In addition, on another physical level, when you have stress, when your cortisol levels are elevated, blood flow stops to the prefrontal cortex and primarily goes to the back of the brain. And the back of the brain is where we have our instinctive reactions, like, “If you’re loving to me, I love you. If you’re mean to me, I’m mean to you.” Everything is an argument. “If you have a complaint, I’ve got two.” And this is where couples get into this back and forth, and they’re not really hearing another point of view or willing to go deeper in it.
You cannot change your conditioning of 1,000 years. The conditioning our parents have goes into their children. This is an amazing evolutionary study they’ve done, which is that if you condition an animal to be afraid of snakes, then the baby will be afraid of snakes, or be afraid of fire, or be afraid of a certain sound. You have a sound playing and then pinch them, then when you play the sound, the baby will have the same conditioning. So conditioning goes down generations in the sort of subconscious and unconscious parts of our brains.
But we do have this prefrontal cortex, which is free of conditioning, where we’re able to look at ourselves. That’s the whole point of therapy, to reflect back on what we’re feeling and recognize that many of our negative emotions, if not all, are based on an irrational belief system. We’re not seeing the whole picture.
Only this conscious brain here can reflect back and change a belief, change something, and literally, it’s often just being in touch. And it sort of starts to adjust. Then you realize these emotions really have to do with unresolved issues of the past and nothing to do with right now.
There is this part of the brain that allows us to actually hear another point of view. And when we’re under fight or flight, we can’t. Biologically, you don’t have blood flow going here. So to continue talking once you’re raising your voice, once you’re getting defensive, once you’re just giving an argument back to their argument, once you’re not feeling loving and heartfelt and trusting and open and grateful—if you’re not feeling those healthy feelings, then you’re not here. And if you’re not here, you’re only going to stimulate not hearing your partner.
So whenever my wife and I start to get into one of those little things, if I’m not staying cool, calm, and collected, she can be anywhere she wants in her brain. But if I’m up here and hold everything together, at a certain point, if I get defensive, then I just say to her, “I hear you,” and that says a lot. It means we agreed. “I hear you” means “I’ve done my very best to take in everything, but I’m starting to get defensive, so exploring this again and again isn’t going to help. So now let me walk away and I’ll think about it.”
And I’m going to come back and be more loving. Boom! No arguments, no fights anymore. Wow! Took 20 years to figure that one out and to get her to buy into it, because women are like, “No, tell me what you’re feeling. Tell me what you think. Get it all out.” Because if you get it all out, say whatever you think and feel, what happens is, as long as somebody is not resisting you, your estrogen levels go really high. And for women that lowers their stress, blood flow goes to the front part of their brain, and now they can appreciate the good in you. But for men, if you express everything you feel and you’re upset and a woman goes, “Yes, tell me more, tell me more, tell me more,” she’s going to be like a mother. She’ll lose her passion for you, but even more importantly, your estrogen will go up.
Now, when a man talks to another man about what’s going on about something else, his testosterone stays up, because he is relating with a man who’s going, “Yeah, I know, I know, I know.” That’s testosterone, men agreeing with each other, and his estrogen can go up, but it won’t go too high because he’s grounded in his masculinity.
When you get upset with your wife, she’s going to be moving over to her male side, because she now has to defend herself. So these are really important skills that are just amazing to help make sense of the craziness that goes on relationships. So we’re coming back—I know our time’s actually up. But another big question is, how do you increase testosterone?
THE NUMBER ONE STRESS-REDUCING BRAIN CHEMICAL
The number one stress-reducing brain chemical in the brain for both men and women is GABA. GABA is produced when you’re singing and you’re dancing and you’re naked and you’re loving the moment, you’re in the present. You’re not in the past. The past isn’t bothering you. You’re right here. That’s GABA. It’s blissful, it’s loving, it’s present, there are no worries. And if you’re not making GABA, your brain’s making glutamate. That’s it. Glutamine, the peptide, turns either to GABA or glutamate depending on, are you stressed? Are you not stressed? The mineral that makes GABA that everybody’s deficient in by various degrees… if you’re stressed you don’t have enough lithium in your brain.
It only takes 5 milligrams of elemental lithium in order to fulfill that need in the brain, and it’s now been shown to prevent dementia, Alzheimer’s.
All these new articles are coming out. In cities where the water has naturally more lithium, there’s no violence, there’s no therapy, there’s no marriage counseling.
You can see… If you want to add something to the water, add lithium, but you don’t have to. It’s the cheapest mineral you can buy online. Lithium orotate. So at MarsVenus.com, I explain all of the cofactors necessary to make lithium work, because you have to make sure there’s some iodine. You need magnesium and potassium. You need vitamin D and you need vitamin K and 1,000 times a second, lithium is being used up in the brain, balancing those five things I just said. And when you’re happy, you’re using up lithium. When you eat sugar, you’re using up lithium. Anytime anything makes you feel good, you’re using up lithium, and with an intensity of feeling good, like falling in love, you use it up even faster.
All kids with brain problems, ADD, everything, have no lithium in their blood. They’ve used it up. They have lithium deficiency.
So anyway, I just wanted to toss that in. The reason you know you have too much estrogen is if you feel anxiety or anger. Any time you’re feeling anxiety or anger, what’s happening is your testosterone is turning into estrogen. That’s why men have to practice detachment.
Whenever you’re angry or afraid, go do something that you’re confident at that uses muscles.
That will rebuild your testosterone so you don’t stay in that cortisol state. Because what men will tend to do is stay in that emotional place and talk about it and share. And I’m not saying don’t talk about your feelings, but first get your testosterone back up so you’re not charged up with those feelings. And then you can talk about it.
WHERE TO FIND DR. JOHN GRAY
You can find Dr. John Gray on his website at MarsVenus.com. If you go to the health tab, you can find all of his blogs and the store that talks about the supplements in great detail.
Look for his new book, Beyond Mars and Venus, where he gets into new relationship skills for a complex world. It’s all about helping women come back to their female side and what women can do to boost a man’s testosterone.
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BEFORE YOU GO
Want to get your hormones in balance so you can look and feel like a rock star? Let’s start with your plate.
Here’s a recent message we received from Patti. She says…
I’m 8 weeks post-op from total hip replacement surgery. I feel great!! I’m way more mobile and pain-free than I have been in years.
I rid myself of 35 pounds and 15 inches by way of The Wild Diet before surgery and have continued with it (since February 1, 2016) making it how I live… always.
Now, I can add exercise, since my hip is so much better. I go to physical therapy once a week, and they are amazed at my progress. I do my PT exercises at home, but I’ve also started walking my two yellow Labs again… 40 minutes each morning.
I feel good, and I’m healing well… I do believe I owe much of my progress to the Wild lifestyle. Thank you, Abel, Alyson, and the Fat-Burning Tribe for your support and encouragement.
Catch me, if you can!
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