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.