When It Comes to Change, Men and Women Are Different

There are lots of differences between men and women and it’s something we are all thankful for. It’s what makes the world spin around.

As a frequent speaker on how to improve your health with a diet rich in vegetables and fruits—and how to Reboot your health with a regimen of just juice—I meet thousands of people every year. I also listen to what they say about making a change for the better.

One thing I’ve learned from Rebooters is this: There is a Yin and Yang of men and women when it comes to implementing big changes in your life.

What it boils down to for men is that comrades in arms rarely embrace the idea of making a major, life-altering transformation. When a man tells his group of buddies, “I’m going to make a change,” they usually give him a hard time about it. It doesn’t matter if it’s going vegan, or going without coffee, or giving up cigarettes (assuming every one else in the group is a smoker, of course). The typical reaction is “What’s wrong with you?” or worse, “Look who’s under the wife’s thumb!”

Now this may come across as fun camaraderie, the kind of jostling and bantering that men are known for. But there’s still a lot of belittling going on. So men will typically keep their ideas of self-improvement to themselves, rather than risk becoming the butt of jokes.

Women, on the other hand, seem far more supportive of each other. So they are not afraid to shout from the mountaintop about making a big change—because they know they will get a boatload of emotional support from their friends. It will be a chorus of, “We’re with you!” or “How can I help?” or “Here’s book about it,” or “Take a look at this link,” or “Check out this support group I heard about.” With women, it’s all hands on deck with lots and lots of encouragement.

What happens next is a flip-flop and another Yin/Yang.

Once men start to succeed with the healthy changes they’ve made—once they start to look and feel better, with more of a spring in their step, better skin, better posture, no more dark circles under the eyes, all those little things—then their buddies start to come around. The next thing you know your friends are complimenting you and asking for advice on how you did it. They want to hop on the bandwagon.

Once women start to succeed it’s another story. Three weeks into a new lifestyle, when they are beginning to really look and feel better, a woman’s friends will start to sabotage the efforts. It’s all about bringing the change artist back into the pack. “Here, try this cupcake,” a friend might say, or “This can’t be good for you.”

This is not necessarily malicious behavior. I think it’s closer to women sharing their own insecurities with each other. And maybe a touch of jealousy (“She can’t do that because it makes me feel bad.”)

This doesn’t happen all of the time, and everyone’s friends have their own subtle dynamics, but in my talks I ask the audience if these scenarios ever happened to them. About 80 percent of the women raise their hands. So do most men.

What it comes down to is this: Men tend not to talk about the process. They are more results oriented. Women are the opposite. They are just as, if not more so, interested in the journey as the destination.

The lesson here is that when it comes to change, friends can be like a minefield. You have to step gingerly. You have to be aware of these dynamics, and know that once you ignore or power your way through them, you’ll be fine—and so will they.

Our friends are still our friends, and a hugely important part of our lives. Let’s just make sure that, when it comes time for a major change, they don’t unravel us.