The Best Method for Reconciling with your Partner after a Fight, According to Science

You just had a fight with your partner. How do you reconcile? Science says there are some differences between what women and men find most effective.               

A team of researchers from Bucknell University and Oakland University have found that the differences of what men and women look for in a partner carry over into the reconciliation methods they find most effective. Previous research has shown that men look for a sexually available partner, while women look for an emotionally available mate.

Joel Wade, professor of psychology at Bucknell University, explained, “Just as we predicted, women in our study rated spending time together and apologizing as the most effective things their partner could do to reconcile after a lovers’ quarrel. This makes sense because apologizing is considered an altruistic act, and women value altruism in their male partners.” Men, on the other hand, felt that it would be most effective for their partner to give sexual favors and do nice gestures. Both men and women agreed that communicating, apologizing, compromising, forgiving, spending time together and giving affection in the form of hugs and kisses are effective. These gestures probably work on both men and women because they demonstrate romantic investment.

Wade does note that their study did not cover context for these reconciliations. He stated, “We don’t yet know which method is most effective for a specific conflict. Giving sexual favors is likely more reassuring in a situation where jealousy is the cause of the conflict because it would reaffirm romantic bonds. Sexual favors would perhaps be less effective for resolving a financial dispute. Communication and compromise would be the more likely methods in that conflict.”

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Bucknell University
Professor of Psychology
570-577-1693 (cell)