4 Reasons To Kiss & Make Up — Today

Photographed by Mark Iantosca.
In the wake of the Ashley Madison hack, we've seen some high-profile men outed and their partners pressured to forgive them. After all, there's a Greek chorus of outside voices — including the Bible, most preschool classrooms, and Real Housewives reunions — telling us that burying the hatchet is the best course of action. And what do you know? Today is apparently National Kiss and Make Up Day.

Feel free to take this as an excuse to finally accept kisses and facilitate make-ups with the people you’re currently feuding with. That's even more important if one of those people is yourself — countless studies prove that forgiving one’s own demons is the best way to inner peace.

So whether you choose to hold tight onto grudges or to let it go, we've got some compelling forgiveness facts for you to consider.

1. Do unto others.
A University of Missouri study published last month looked at forgiveness in 1,000 elderly adults. The researchers found that the women surveyed tended to associate forgiving others and themselves with increased happiness. The act of forgiveness also helped alleviate depression, particularly when that depression was associated with conflict and feeling "unforgiven" for something. Moral of the story? If you're doing the right thing by you, you're helping your mental health (despite whatever haters may still be out there).

2. Lose the negativity.
If one partner in a relationship has cheated, it often feels like the biggest deal in the world. But a 2013 study published in the Journal of Family Psychology shows that forgiveness can help both the offender and victim feel better about the relationship's chances for success. In particular, both partners felt more secure when the offender had fewer negative thoughts towards himself or herself. So, one key to surviving a major relationship roadblock is seeing the good in the very person who's done the most damage.

3. It's got to be real.
In order to actually forget after forgiving, you have to replace the negative associations with positive ones. This experience is what researchers call emotional forgiveness, and it requires an actual apology from the offender first. So, if your partner's apologizing profusely for being late to dinner yet again, you can offer a half-hearted "It's okay, I guess." Or, if that apology is sincere, you can graduate to emotional forgiveness (with a kiss, hopefully).

4. And "real" means "evolved."
Apologizing can be viewed as an evolutionary strategy that encourages cooperation between groups of humans. But, a study published earlier this year found that cooperation is only truly restored when that apology is sincere. It turns out we have a "sincerity threshold" when it comes to facing others' mistakes, meaning that once an apology hits that level, we'll forgive a lot. And meaningful apologies have restorative effects like no other. We can assume that emotional forgiveness will occur afterwards, and everyone will want to bake a cake of rainbows and eat it and be happy. Idealistic? Sure. Impossible? We sure hope not!
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