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.

Who really values monogamy in a relationship?

By Guest Author Kelly Pullin

What if sexual monogamy wasn’t the only type of monogamy considered?  Who is to say that lack of emotional monogamy isn’t just as detrimental to a relationship as lack of sexual monogamy?

Old picture of two cute dogsSchmookler and Bursi explored the gender perspectives about monogamy, surveying 53 women and 34 men currently in relationships.  Their attitudes were measured on four dimensions: value of emotional monogamy, value of sexual monogamy, perceptions of monogamy as relationship enhancing, and perceptions of monogamy as a sacrifice.  The results of each dimension influenced the satisfaction of one’s relationship. The results indicated that both men and women considered monogamy a relationship enhancer, but only men considered monogamy as some kind of sacrifice. Women were found to value both emotional and sexual monogamy more than men.   In addition, they found that women were more likely to be unfaithful to their partners emotionally while men were more likely to be sexually unfaithful.

The main aspect to take away from this study is the statement that men and women who value both sexual and emotional monogamy in their relationship report to be a lot happier. It would be hypocritical if one was to be angry at the thought of his or her partner committing sexual infidelity while he or she is emotionally involved with someone other than his or her partner. All aspects of monogamy are equal, and all aspects of monogamy work together in a relationship. To have a healthy and successful relationship one must have both the emotional and sexual factors in tact.

Publicly, the emotional disloyalty in a relationship is not talked about or valued near as much as the sexual side of things.  But this emotional side needs to be exposed and cherished.  This study reinforces the understanding of differences between men and women.  Men are drawn to more sexual desires, while women are looking to be in a relationship with a lot of emotional love.  Both men and women should maintain awareness of their natural desires when entering a relationship.  Characteristics that are natural and subconscious can be hard to overcome, but ultimately getting past this barrier in a relationship will make the relationship stronger and satisfying in the end.

Schmookier, T. & Bursik, K. (2007).  The value of monogamy in emerging adulthood: A gendered perspective.  Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 24, 819-835

A study of speed dating: How to get the second date

By Guest Author Krista Morasch

Speed dating candiesAs a speed-dating skeptic myself, it is intriguing to discover that although a six minute date does not offer sufficient time to learn a lot about a partner, the determinant in desire for a second interaction does not then completely fall to physical attraction. With social media and other modern technologies hastening our judgments of people, the ultimate impacts of these impressions remains a fruitful area of research.

Houser, Horan, and Furler recently conducted a study of 157 speed daters. They covered three basic issues in their study:

  1. How the dater’s predicted value of a future relationship relates to his/her attraction, similarity, and nonverbal communication to develop liking (such as eye contact) to her/his date.
  2. How the dater’s predicted value of a future relationship relates to his/her desire for a future date.
  3. How the dater’s attraction, similarity, and non-verbal communication relates to his/her desire for a future date.

The results indicated that when a dater predicted the value of a future relationship to be high, their attraction and amount of positive nonverbal communication was high as well. Similarity however, did not relate to the predicted value of a future relationship. The results also revealed when the predicted values of future relationships to be high when so too was the desire for a future date. Obviously then, a high desire for a date positively corresponds to high levels of attraction and positive nonverbal communication. Using this principle, the researchers could predict with 77 percent accuracy whether a dater would desire another date.

With this knowledge of what makes people say yes or no to another date, people have the opportunity to become super speed-daters. They will know what to do to enhance their chances of getting another date and hopefully use the knowledge in their speed dating endeavors. This study has provided and proven prescript things one can do to achieve this end. For instance, a dater can practice grooming and hygiene in a way to make him or herself more attractive. Also, a dater can intentionally send nonverbal communication showing his or her interest such as leaning in, holding eye contact, and/or smiling. Finally, he or she can choose discussion topics that will make him or her seem pleasant and desirable to be around in the future. When attractiveness, nonverbal communication, and high perceived value of a future relationship are present the likelihood for a desired further date is high as well. As such, it appears that enhancing any or all of these criteria will also enhance one’s date probability.

Houser, M.L., Horan, S.M., & Furler, L.A. (2008). Dating in the fast lane: how communication predicts speed-dating success. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 25, 749-768.

Long-Distance Warps Our Perceptions of Romantic Partners

By Guest Author Lyndsey ChamberlainRabby blog cell phone

As a person in a long distance dating relationship (LDDR), I found it interesting that couples in a LDDR say they are happier then geographically close dating relationships (GCDR). I also was interested to learn that idealization of each other in a long distance dating relationship can adversely affect the relationship when a couple reunites.

In a survey of 122 heterosexual couples from a large Midwestern university, Stafford and Merolla looked at whether idealization may influence why LDDR are more stable and in some cases more satisfied with their relationship.

They also factored in days between face to face communication and other forms of communication, i.e., telephone. Stafford and Merolla found LDDR spend less time together than GCDR face to face and there is no great difference between how much LDDR and GCDR communicate by other means. They also found that idealization in LDDR increased when the time between face to face communications increased. LDDR also seemed to say they were happier with their relationships then the GCDR did. This is an example of how idealization can form false impressions of a partner.

In a separate survey of approximately 400 Midwestern college students, Stafford and Merolla conducted a second study, based off the first, saying idealization, type and frequency of communication, and other relational characteristics can predict long-term stability for LDDR who remain long distant or become geographically close.

Participants completed a survey on quality of marital index adapted for dating partners, global commitment scale, idealistic distortion scale and a whether or not each partner want to live in the same location as their partner. They looked at research points from the time they contacted the couples and then again after 6 months had passed to inquire about the couples relational status. Of the sample, half stayed distant and the other half moved closer.  82% of couples that moved close ended the relationship and only 40% that stayed distant ended the relationship. Stafford and Merolla found there is more stability in LDDR that stay distant then ones that become close. They determined idealistic distortion kept the LDDR intact. They also found couples who became geographically close and had more face to face communication during the separation had more stable relationships than others in the study.

If interested in lowering the idealization for a partner, it is important to increase face to face communication and be honest with each other and the changes in one another’s lives. To reduce idealization, be realistic when thinking of a long distant partner’s true qualities.

A problem that LDDR couples encounter with their partners when they become geographically close is having overly optimistic views of one another. They may feel like they know each other completely but then feel like they reunite with a stranger. More realistic people may experience less relational trouble when they reunite because they can be better prepared for the changes. LDDR should also increase the frequency they talk about important beliefs rather than avoid them to avoid disagreement during one of the few face to face interactions. This will help a couple because they will not have a false impression of future plans.

Stafford, L., & Merolla, A. (2007). Idealization, reunions, and stability in long-distance dating relationships. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 24, 37-54

Most Think a Workplace Romance is a Bad Idea

By Guest Author Lizaura Riveraworkplace romance-- two stuffed animals hugging via lorraineemmans

Have you ever engaged in a workplace romance? The truth is most people have at some point, though interestingly most agree that a workplace romance carries negative implications.

In a survey of 140 employees, Horan and Chory explored interpersonal perceptions of peers who have been involved in a workplace romance and how that affected their other work relationship. They focused on four sets of variables:

  • Trust-in the survey the word trust was used to demonstrate the feelings towards a person.
  • Solidarity-used as a way to explain how people would feel towards someone in a given situation.
  • Honesty-used to measure how a co-worker would relate and speak to someone who was in a work place romance.
  • Deception-similar to honesty and solidarity deception was used as a way for people to describe their feelings towards a co-worker in certain situations, such as would they lie?

The data was used to describe how people would react, communicate, and feel towards a work place romance. Throughout these four issues in work place relationships is the idea that most workers respected and had a better rapport with people who were in a relationship with someone who was not a superior. Trust is a major issue for workers and according to Horan and Chory it dissipates towards people who are in a work place romance. People perceive workplace romances negatively–they divide people and often make the workplace uncomfortable. When one member of the team is not happy things quickly and surely fall apart.

Of course these things are not difficult to deduce even if one has never had to deal with a workplace romance. Most people that I know agree that this type of relationship is rarely good, as it creates unhealthy and un-productive levels of anonymity between people. But yet, workplace romances still happen…

Horan, S. M., & Chorry, R. M. (2009). When work and love mix: Perceptions of peers in  workplace romances. Western Journal of Communication, 73, 349-369.

College Love: Uncertainty & Satisfaction in Long Distance Dating Relationships

By Guest Author Kasie Tanabe

Going on into my third year in a long distance dating relationship, I can attest to the important role of active of maintenance in keeping a fulfilling relationship. However, I was unaware of just how closely linked satisfaction is to communication strategies and their feelings on the relationship’s future.

Surveying 186 college students in long distance dating relationships (LDDRs), Maguire looked the following subjects:
• Certainty/uncertainty of reuniting in the same city – how this affected the overall relationship satisfaction
• Relationship-enhancing/distancing communicative coping strategies – which of the two are more helpful for people in LDDRs with an uncertain and certain future
• Convergent/divergent situations – how satisfaction differs for those in convergent (high probability of a favored outcome) and divergent (low probability of a favored outcome) situations, and what communicative coping strategies work best

Maguire’s results generally strengthened existing theories regarding certainty and its positive effects on maintenance and communicative coping strategies. However, people who were comfortable with their future prospects (whether it be certain or uncertain) showed greater overall relationship satisfaction. In addition, maintenance and relationship-enhancing coping strategies were more clearly associated with relationships of reduced uncertainty.

Therefore, it should not be assumed that uncertainty will always prove problematic for LDDRs. Uncertainty management theory (UMT) offers one perspective on this issue; it recognizes that not all uncertainty is negative. In some situations, certainty may be problematic, especially if the sure future involves an undesirable outcome. It is not true that if a couple is uncertain or moderately uncertain of reuniting, then they necessarily are unsatisfied and have more distress.

Miss You (from doug88888)Maintenance strategies say a lot about a relationship as well. A commitment to a future together brings about an increased amount of openness, cooperativeness, joint-problem solving, and assurances, as more importance is placed on maintaining the relationship in hopes of making it last. But no matter the case, as the study and I both suggest, keep withdrawal and verbal attacks to a minimum. No matter the certainty or satisfaction level, all participants felt these to be harmful and unhelpful coping strategies.

Finally, another important aspect of LDDRs is idealization. This occurs often, as idealized images may arise through restricted communication. One partner is allowed to see only what the other wants them to see; it is easier in LDDRs to leave out unfavorable information. This ultimately heightens satisfaction levels.

Maguire, K. (2007). “Will it ever end?”: A (re)examination of uncertainty in college student long-distance dating relationships. Communication Quarterly, 415-432.