Even in a good romantic relationship, conflict is inevitable, despite what those who appear to be happily coupled up (appear being the key word here) may say. Overcoming arguments helps couples grow closer and teaches us what we value in our relationships, so it's interesting to know how partners overcome those bumps in the road.
And according to new research on straight men and women, the sexes have different ideas when it comes to the best ways of resolving relationship conflict. The small study by academics at Bucknell University, Pennsylvania, published in the journal Evolutionary Psychological Science, found that men believe a sexual favour or kind gesture is the best way to apologise, while women would prefer spending quality time together and their partner to shed a few tears.
This means there's a lot of room for things to get worse, even once a couple has decided to forgive and forget.
In the small-scale study, 74 heterosexual people were asked to highlight five behaviours or actions typical of couples trying to make up after a fight. The academics put the answers into 21 categories and gave them to another group of men and women, who were asked to rate the effectiveness of each one.
“Women may find the act of their male partner apologising to be an effective reconciliation tactic because it is viewed as an altruistic act," said Wade. "A man’s apology may redirect the cost of romantic conflict to himself rather than to his partner and thereby demonstrate his ability to provide emotional support and incur personal costs for his partner."
A man's tears may be a sign that he's in touch with his emotions, but not necessarily feminine, Wade added. Meanwhile, a man's willingness to resolve conflict through sex could be rooted in their own ego and insecurity, he suggested.
“Women may thereby use sexual favours as a way to reconcile with their male partner,” added Wade. “Doing so may communicate to their male partner that they are still sexually accessible and as such do not want to end the relationship.”
Something to think about the next time you get into a tricky spot with your SO.