man begging for woman's forgiveness after fight

Make up, don’t break up!

What’s the best way to make up after a fight? That depends – at least in part – on whether your partner’s a guy or girl, according to recent research.

You and your partner have just had a big fight. You’ve come to realise you were in the wrong, and you’ve told her so, but she’s still pretty upset. What do you do to make it up to her and show you care?

Best ways to make up

A group of US researchers was interested in that very question – with a twist. They wanted to know what works best when it comes to making up after a fight. But they were also curious to know whether men and women tend to have a different take on the matter.

To find out, the researchers first asked about 75 university students to list five ways same-sex friends or acquaintances make up with a partner after a fight. Their answers were organised into a list of 21 behaviours.

Armed with this list, the researchers then asked more than 150 men and women to rate each make-up behaviour on a scale, where seven meant it worked a treat, and one meant it was unlikely to make a difference.

Apologise and compromise

Certain make-up behaviours are likely to work, regardless of whether you’re dating a man or woman, the researchers learned. Communication and forgiveness are definitely important and guys appreciate an apology nearly as much as gals do. Both sexes also respond well to partners who are willing to compromise and who want to spend time with them.
Finally, a little affection goes a long way after a fight.

But making up with your partner does also seem to depend – at least in part – on whether they’re a guy or gal, the study found.

Tears and make-up sex

If your partner’s a woman, apologising to her and spending time together are likely to help. You might want to shed a tear or two while you’re at it.

Women rated crying as decidedly more effective than men did when it came to making post-fight amends.

And if your sweetheart is a guy, well, (cliché alert) make-up sex might be the way to go. Though you don’t want to forget to actually deal with the issue at hand by talking things through. Throw in a few nice gestures – like doing some chores for him – and you can’t go wrong.

Whatever you choose to do, showing you’re emotionally committed to your partner is what really matters when it comes to making up, say the researchers.

The 5 best ways to make up

  1. Talk about the problem
  2. Apologise
  3. Forgive your partner
  4. Spend time together
  5. Compromise 

The 5 worst ways to make up

  1. Give in or give up
  2. Argue with your partner
  3. Pretend the fight didn’t happen
  4. Ignore or avoid your partner
  5. Drink alcohol


Wade, T.J., Mogilski, J. & Schoenberg, R. (2107). Sex Differences in Reconciliation Behavior After Romantic Conflict. Evolutionary Psychological Science.

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