It’s Research Wednesday! Where I share the latest, or most fascinating, in the science of friendship.
“Researchers analyzed the number of self-reported offenses and apologies made by 66 subjects over a 12-day period. And yes, they confirmed women consistently apologized more times than men did. But they also found that women report more offenses than men. So the issue is not female over-apology. Instead, there may be a gender difference in what is considered offensive in the first place.” (“Women Apologize More Frequently Than Men Do,” Scientific American; 9/25/2010)
I’ve always been big on apologizing. At least with friends. Well, specifically with friends. If I’m snippy with a pal, I’ll express my regret pretty quickly. I get embarrassed by my bad behavior, and scared said friend might get angry with me. And I’m someone who hates, absolutely hates, when someone is mad at me. I’ve mentioned this before. I always think of this Office quote from Pam: “I hate the idea that someone out there hates me. I even hate thinking that Al-Qaeda hates me. I think if they got to know me, they wouldn’t hate me.”
In order to avoid tiffs with friends I’ll almost always bite the bullet. Though it’s probably worth pointing out that this hasn’t come up in a while. But in middle school? I was an “I’m sorry” machine.
Let’s face it, I probably did something worth being sorry for. (Except in the evil letter incident. That was all her.)
I’ve never observed anything similar in male friendships. I’ll witness an exchange between two guys and think, “Woah, someone better apologize but quick or this friendship’s kaput.” And minutes later they’re all buddy-buddy again, laughing and drinking beers.
Um, don’t you remember him calling you a douchebag ten minutes ago? Aren’t you, at least, peeved?
Turns out that the answer, often, is no. These men are not peeved. They have a “higher threshold” for bad behavior. Something that might be grounds for friendship dismissal to a woman may be a non-factor to a guy.
This research, though not shocking, provides a good context for why female friendships might be plagued with more petty fights than male relationships (bromances, if you will). We find more behavior offensive. While we apologize more, we probably also get mad more.
Drama drama drama.
There’s insight to be had here into romantic relationships too. You know that moment when you demand—or at least strongly request—an apology, and he says “I’d apologize if I thought I did something wrong”? That moment you want to ring his neck a little bit? Turns out he’s not trying to be difficult. Just honest. (Still, that line is the worst.)
Have you noticed that women apologize more than men? If women get mad more, and apologize more, does that mean that men have it easier friendship-wise? I don’t want to believe it, but this round might go to the guys.