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See Inside Scientific American Mind Volume 25, Issue 1

After a Lovers' Spat, Forgive Yourself

Self-compassion helps both partners move on and feel satisfied

When you land in the doghouse, you might think staying there could help you get back in your partner's good graces. Not so, according to research published in August 2013 in the Journal of Family Psychology: self-forgiveness improves the relationship satisfaction of both the offending partner and the one who was hurt. The study, which examined real-life offenses among 168 couples, found that satisfaction was higher for both partners when the offender had less negative thoughts and feelings toward himself or herself. The researchers distinguished the construct of self-forgiveness (which requires accepting responsibility for one's wrongdoing) from self-excusing, so the findings do not mean it is okay to let yourself off the hook prematurely. Rather than dwelling on self-punishment, acknowledge wrongdoing and focus on rebuilding goodwill.

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