Sunday, August 21, 2016

Are Men More Forgiving Than Women?

Yes - according to a Harvard study.

Analysing videos of various sports (tennis, badminton, table tennis and boxing), the research team found that sportsmen spent more time than their female counterparts in friendly physical contact (handshakes, hugging, etc.) after the end of the game. This seems to confirm the long-held suspicion of many people (at least, by men) that women are more prone to hold grudges.

Of course, one could argue that the sample size is too small to draw any conclusions about men and women in general. Maybe the nature of competitive sports attract and breed specific character types beyond the norm. Maybe a few milliseconds delay don't mean much of a difference. Maybe an outward show of sportsmanship does not necessary reflect what people really feel inside.

But the study is too compelling to dismiss. So for the sake of further analysis, let's assume the theory is true.

The next question - one which the study did not resolve - is this: why do women find it harder to forgive and forget?

Best Friends Forever

Fight Club

One reason could be that men are quicker to get into fights that they later regret. Adrenaline rush, alpha male ego, anger management issues - we've heard the excuses before. Whether valid or not, it's true that men get into more fights than women, almost as if fighting is in their blood since the primitive days of hunting and killing. Which means that the number of wrong fights that guys get into are also higher. And it's easier to make up and laugh over a fight that shouldn't even have started in the first place.

Whereas women don't simply pick up fights, and when they do, it's a conscious choice made after much careful deliberation. A woman is not going to smack you in the face just because you called them fat; they'll just walk away, find a quiet corner, and pour their hurt out on Facebook. Women fight only when they really have to, when their backs are against the wall, when they can't take in their pent-up rage any longer. And when they fight, it's for real. They've crossed a point of no return. No remorse, no redemption.

Hell Hath No Fury Like A Woman Scorned

Another reason could be that men fight for all kinds of reasons - ego bruised ("That bastard made a fool of me in futsal!"), rule broken ("You can talk smack about me, but don't ever dare touch my hair! NOT THE HAIR, OKAY?") and losing their shit for imaginary reasons ("Did you just stare at my girlfriend? DID YOU?"). Reasons that are spurred by purely primal instincts. And when primal instincts die down - as they so often do in a matter of minutes - the reason for fighting is gone, replaced by regret and embarrassment.

Whereas when women fight, their reasons are deeply emotional. Breaking of promise. Betrayal of trust. Lack of concern. Reasons that cannot be excused. Reasons that leave irreconcilable differences and irrecoverable wounds. When women fight, they invest lots of emotion, not just energy. And emotional scars, unlike the physical kind, are not easy to erase.


Don't Look Back In Anger

So to say that a women is more spiteful and vengeful than men is not necessarily a black mark against them. It could be that women don't pick up fights easily, and in the rare occasions that they do, they have a good reason to. To say that men are more forgetful and forgiving than women is not necessarily a point in their favour. It could be that men are fighters without a cause, and surrender too easily.

Or maybe men and women do eventually forgive and forget, but women just take more time to calm down and find closure. And that's not necessarily a bad thing. It means that women seek to understand and learn from every fight they get into, in hope of avoiding similar fights in future.

Or maybe I should just stop here, before I ruffle more feathers. Already I can sense the shrill of daggers.

Sorry, ladies. Don't be angry. Please forgive me.


  1. The men should be angry--not the women. In an effort not to offend women all the reasons you gave for men getting angry make them look impulsive, unthinking, irrational and stereotypical.

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