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They may the most dreaded four words in any relationship: “We need to talk.” The phrase is rarely followed by good news, which may be why many men prefer skipping the talk and heading straight to the bedroom, according to a new study.
The study, published in the journal Evolutionary Psychological Science, was conducted by researchers at Bucknell University and took place in two parts. First, participants answered an online questionnaire about how they like to make up with their partners after a disagreement. Then, the researchers categorized those answers and asked a second group of participants how they like to reconcile with their partners ranking the newly categorized answers on a scale of 1 to 21.
Researchers found that women participants said their preferred method of reconciliation was quality time, oftentimes accompanied by an apology, and even tears. Men, on the other hand, preferred kind gestures and sexual favors. This, researchers said, was consistent with previous studies that showed men place a high value on sexual accessibility in relationships.
“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,” lead study researcher T. Joel Wade said in a statement. “Such actions by a man may signal the likelihood of a potentially high parental investment which women prefer.”
When men fear the ending of a relationship, Wade says, sexual favors from their partner indicate that the connection is still there and the relationship is still salvageable.
It should be noted that Wade’s research was conducted on a small sample of 74 participants, so there’s still a way to go in determining what applies more broadly. Also, the study looked at what men and women desire from their partners when making up after an argument, not necessarily what actually works. So, don’t limit yourself to these findings. You know what works for you and your partner. Do the healthiest thing for you.