Q. Recently I heard someone quote an old saying: Males take charge; Females take care. Is that really true?

A. I suppose it depends partly on how you define take charge and take care and how well you understand the tendencies of each gender. In general, males tend to bond with other males by doing things together. When they're upset they may go hunting, fishing, bowling, or watch sports on TV, telling each other jokes during the commercials. Once in a while males may share problems with another close male friend, but doing things together doesn't necessarily involve direct conversation about problems they may be having.

Typically, when females have a problem, they use conversation to connect with each other, discuss the issues, discharge emotional energy, and try to uncover a solution (unless they are just rehearsing and don't want a solution to the problem). At times they may talk while doing an activity with the other females, but it may just involve sitting down and chatting directly over a copy of tea.

If the man has a supportive spouse, or a female colleague or friend, he may be willing to talk with that female about a specific problem. As one man put it: I'm often more comfortable discussing the problem with a woman because they are the keepers of secrets and they will judge me less harshly than would another male. So the idea that males don't care is likely erroneous. Overall, people are people and most people need and want similar things from their close friends. They want a listening ear or shared companionship, ideas for solutions if they ask for those, and a sense of social support. Males may just choose to deal with caring differently than do females.