To Make Up After a Row, Men Want Sex, Women Want Quality Time

By: Alia Hoyt
A new study looked at the reconciliation tactics of men and women after a romantic conflict. YuriF/Getty Images

You acted like a jerk. Now, it's time to apologize, right the wrongs and get back into your partner's good graces ... but how? Well, if you're a man and your beloved is a woman, spend plenty of quality time with her, verbalize your sincere apology (we know when you're lying) and even squeeze out a few tears.

If the aggravated one in question is a guy and you're a girl, however, the fastest route to forgiveness is with a bit of good old-fashioned physical lovin'. This ever-so-romantic insight comes to us via the results of a Bucknell University study published in the journal Evolutionary Psychological Science.


The study (based entirely on self-reported responses) was a two-pronged effort. The first part surveyed a total of 74 women and men (average age about 27) via an online questionnaire. The respondents were either recruited from Facebook groups or participated by way of a college psychology course. They were instructed to brainstorm people they know of the same gender and write down five behaviors/acts they would be likely to use (or have used) to make up with a partner following a fight.

The second portion of the study categorized these responses into 21 separate acts or behaviors. Then, another group of 164 respondents were asked to consider the acts and rate how effective each one would be if a partner tried the behavior to reconcile. They did so on a 7-point scale, with a 7 indicating that the act/behavior would be very effective.

The results showed that men place more value on considerate gestures and/or sex. "Women may thereby use sexual favors as a way to reconcile with their male partner," explains lead researcher T. Joel Wade in a press release. "Doing so may communicate to their male partner that they are still sexually accessible and as such do not want to end the relationship."

Although there are certainly some ladies out there who appreciate physical love as an apology route, the study found that most place emphasis on emotional measures. "Women may rate spending time together more highly because this behavior signals a partner's willingness to invest effort and limited resources (e.g. time) into their romantic pair-bond," says Wade. "Such actions by a man may signal the likelihood of a potentially high parental investment which women prefer."

In fairness, men also rated "spending time together" highly and the top-ranking reconciliation act for both genders was "communicate." The researchers note that no prior research had examined whether there were differences in the reconciliation tactics of men and women after a romantic conflict.