The Decision to Forgive: Sex, Gender, and the Likelihood to Forgive Partner Transgressions.

By Guest Author Andrea Milholland

Most people crave the closeness and security found in romantic relationships.  However, as humans, we also make mistakes that can put these relationships in jeopardy.  As a female who is currently dating, I am curious to discover if gender plays a role in likeliness to forgive a romantic partner, and why.

In this study, 145 heterosexual couples (ranging from causally dating to married) completed surveys concerning their individual gender role, forgiveness towards their partner, relationship satisfaction, and apology trends.  The researchers discovered the following:

Gender role: Four gender categories for both sexes emerged based on a BSRI scale: masculine, feminine, androgynous (masculine & feminine), and undifferentiated (neither masculine nor feminine).
Forgiveness: Concerning biological sex, men were found to be the most forgiving.  Women reported more feelings of ‘hurt’, which affects their likelihood to forgive. However, concerning gender roles, feminine/androgynous men and women were more likely to forgive their partners when compared with masculine/undifferentiated.
Relationship Satisfaction: Both men and women were more likely to forgive when satisfied with their relationship.  Women, overall, showed more relationship satisfaction than men.  Couples involved in longer relationships tended to rate higher in terms of relationship satisfaction.
Apology trends: Men apologized slightly more often, with more sincerity, according to their partners, than women did.

In essence, forgiveness is dependent on a variety of factors, including the severity of the transgression.  Forgiveness is seen as an interpersonal act that requires empathy, caring, and understanding.  Traditionally, these traits are viewed as feminine in most societies.  However, it is important to note that feminine and androgynous men were most likely to forgive. Regardless of gender, relationship satisfaction was found to be the primary factor regarding likeliness to forgive.

Understanding that relationship satisfaction has the largest impact on forgiveness, it is important for the partner to weigh the positives and the negatives resulting from their significant other’s flaw or mistake.  If the transgression does not compare to the happiness caused by the relationship, forgiveness is beneficial.  However, if this is not the case, the relationship should end.  Based on this study, if you view forgiveness as a positive trait in a significant other, it is best to look for increased feminine or androgynous characteristics.


Sidelinger, R., Frisby, B., & McMullen, A. (2009). The decision to forgive: sex, gender, and the likelihood to forgive partner transgressions. Communication Studies, 60(2), 164-179.

Good Relationship Management Causes Partners to Perform Better at Home and Work

By Guest Author Hillary White

Many companies today do not take a particular interest in the well-being of its employees. However, if a company spent resources on relationship management programs, recent evidence indicates that both the employee and the company benefit in the long run.

Schaer, Bodenmann, and Klink suggest that experiences at the workplace and couple’s life are closely connected to each other and that unresolved stress in one domain affects the other domain in a significant manner. This means that stress in a person’s work has a negative effect on that person’s home life, and stress at home has a negative effect in a person’s work. Stress from one area tends to spillover into the other area. Parents who are overwhelmed at work tend not to be as good of parents as those who are not under the same stress. Conversely, people under stress at home tend to perform at a lower quality at work.

The authors tested the theory on 157 couples. The couples were split into three conditions/groups: Couples Coping Enhancement Training, an individual-oriented coping intervention, and a control group. Each training session totaled 15 hours over one weekend.

The authors suggest that companies should invest more in the well-being of the relationship of their employees in order to improve the success of the company overall. If a company spends time and money on relationship maintenance programs, then employees will perform better at work. The authors’ study suggests that Couples Coping Enhancement Training is the best program for companies to use. Couples Coping Enhancement Training is a preventative intervention that teaches couples how to cope with stress together and individually. This method is shown to be more successful than an individual coping method. Couples Coping Enhancement Training has shown to improve relationship quality. Couples who participate in Couples Coping Enhancement Training show a greater increase in communication skills and the ability to cope with stress together.

The authors advocate that if companies provide Couples Coping Enhancement Training to its employees, then productivity of employees will greatly improve. Most companies today do not take an interest in the personal lives and relationships of its employees. However, the findings suggest that companies which do take measures to ensure the success and well-being of employee relationships outperform companies that do not.

Schaer, M., Bodenmann, G., & Klink, T. (2008). Balancing work and relationship: couples coping enhancement training (CCET) in the workplace. Applied Psychology: An International Review , 57, 71-89.