If you’ve ever felt overly-irritated by your partner, coworker, or friend, it might not be all their fault (unfortunately)—especially if you’re a woman. In fact, research from Michigan State University suggests it could be because, generally, women tend to be more sensitive to annoying behaviors compared to men, who aren’t as quick to notice.
The study looked at 235 undergraduate students to find out where men and women differ in their reactions to behaviors across both personal and professional relationships, and published their findings in the journal Personality and Individual Differences. They tracked various irritating behaviors to see how men and women react in different social situations—including antagonism, dominance, and inappropriate affection. Men and women were asked to rate their sensitivity to each behavior in a friend, a colleague, or a romantic partner. Across all three relationships, women were most sensitive to rude and annoying behaviors.
“They’re maybe more socially aware, on average, and so perhaps it’s easier for them to pick out things that are annoying than men are,” researcher Christopher J. Hopwood said in a statement.
Does this mean you should cut your partner or coworker some slack? Not necessarily. Just because they don’t realize they’re being annoying doesn’t mean they should be let off the hook.