Everything You Need To Know About Make-Up Sex Before It Becomes A Habit

Turns out, it's actually addictive.


Alyssa Lavy |

“After every storm is a rainbow” sounds like a cliché reserved for an embroidered pillow, but it can also be said about those feisty moments with your partner. You could be arguing about anything⁠—how you forgot to do the dishes before bed (again), how their poker night with the guys ran too late — but eventually, you can’t help but create some fireworks of a different kind. Sure, the disagreement will quickly become the last thing on your mind…but is make-up sex a good idea?

“I’m actually a fan of make-up sex,” says sexual wellness coach Dr Lauren Brim. “So much of our communication is nonverbal, and we’re able to work out so much through touch.” Besides, as anyone who’s dabbled in a post-fight romp can attest, it’s hot as heck.

Why is that, you wonder? Thanks in part to hormones triggered during fights, researchers see a connection between conflict and sexual desire. Basically, when you feel like your relationship is threatened, your biological instinct is to preserve the bond. Sex is one natural way to do that.

“Anger can become erotically charged,” explains Dr Elizabeth Perri, a clinical psychologist and sex therapist in Chicago. The energy you feel from a heated discussion is similar to—and easily shifts into — sexual energy, which experts call “arousal transfer.” (Cue movie scene where a couple goes from yelling to tearing their clothes off in .2 seconds.)

Before you start a petty fight in the grocery store in hopes of having the hottest sex later, I’m here to remind you make-up sex has its own baggage and isn’t a fix-all. Sorry to cramp the passion! Here’s everything you need to know about make-up sex.

Does make-up sex have benefits?

Yes, and really great ones beyond the obvious (the big O).

1. Make-up sex is a *true* reminder of your affection.

In the moment of red-in-the-face arguing, it’s easy to lose sight of the love you do have. But embracing desire, being vulnerable, and expressing your sexuality even in spite of hard times can be empowering for a lot of couples. “Make-up sex reminds a couple of what makes their relationship special, unique, and important,” says Dr Lisa Marie Bobby.

2. You’ll reconnect in a new, passionate way.

Make-up sex is charged with palpable, exciting energy that causes pants to fly off at the mere mention (much like its conflict-turned-lustful twin, breakup sex). “Sex after a fight is such a powerful way to connect,” Brim says. “It brings us back to what we share in that connection with each other.”

Taking advantage of that arousal transfer comes from a place that feels much different than your routine romps, which can help deepen intimacy after the fact. (Word to the wise, just don’t make it into a habit — more on that in a bit.)

3. Make-up sex can help you heal.

Let’s talk about closure. While verbal communication is the most efficient way to reach a mutual understanding, Brim says physical intimacy is a powerful way to heal, too. Sometimes you’re not able to talk through conflict right away and come to a resolution, and that’s fine.

Maybe what you need most in that moment of distress is to feel close to and comforted by your partner. “It’s okay to enjoy the physicality of connecting,” she says. You might need that feeling of safety before you move on to the let’s-figure-this-out phase.

4. Make-up sex can make communication easier.

On that note, make-up sex can actually be a really great tool for resolving conflict. By acting as a pause button on the fight or diffusing the tension it created, doing the deed can create enough space to have a productive conversation afterwards. Bobby says it can improve communication, kindness, and cooperation in other aspects of your relationship. And at the least, you’re getting out ~a lot~ of energy.

“It’s been said that while things like communication, teamwork, and shared goals are the foundational building blocks of a relationship, sex is the glue that holds it all together,” she says. Preach.

5. You’ll learn something new about the relationship.

Having sex with the “warring party,” Brim says, shows that you’re, in part, drawn to your partner because there’s unfinished business to discover or resolve.

“We see the person through fresh eyes as we continue to figure out our own internal situation,” she says. “I believe everything outside of us is a reflection of that, including the partners and the sex we’re having.”

Mkay, so why shouldn’t I have make-up sex after every fight?

Here’s the thing: As good and helpful as make-up sex can be, if your relationship is dramatic and full of fighting, relying on sex to keep you trucking along won’t cut it. Sex is important, duh, but using it as a way to avoid constant (and recurring) problems is more like merging into another lane versus doing the work to repair the potholes.

Here’s why you should think twice about getting naked post-argument:

1. Make-up sex isn’t the same as making up.

If you get hot and heavy just to swerve communication, what are you doing? Yeah, digging into why you’re really fighting can be scary and uncomfortable, but it’s necessary. No hitting it and quitting it here. If you’re not using make-up sex to reconnect emotionally and then working through the problem, it’s just a way to avoid, avoid, avoid. And that gets ugly.

“In this case, sexuality is not a relationship enhancer, but rather a mechanism of avoidance,” Bobby says. “Ask yourself, ‘Am I having sex instead of meeting this conflict head-on? Am I half-hoping that if we have sex, the issue will go away and we won’t have to talk about it?” You have to get real, even if that scares you.

2. Make-up sex creates temporary closeness.

Sex after a fight can bring you two closer together, but it’s not a stand-in for connection. After all, those “I love you” vibes that follow a romp and a subsequent orgasm don’t stick around forever.

If you haven’t digested this yet, let me say it again: “Make-up sex is healthiest when paired with verbal communication and, most importantly, resolution of the issue at hand,” Perri says. Don’t expect that just because you physically bonded, you’ve broken through your emotional disconnect, too.

3. Make-up sex can become a pattern.

What if I said make-up sex was a little like doing cocaine? That’s right, one expert suggests that you can fall into the habit of chasing the high that make-up sex brings, and that it can even feel addictive.

If you fall into the pattern of chasing fights with sex and no resolution, Bobby says these issues can become more complex and hurtful — even relationship-ending — over time.

4. Make-up sex can make you feel worse afterwards.

I know, I know — I just told you all the reasons make-up sex is awesome. But like with most things in life, there’s a caveat.

There are times when make-up sex might sound like a good idea, but when it happens, it feels the opposite. If you feel uneasy or even uncomfortable afterwards, Perri says it’s a sign that the issue is truly unresolved and you might’ve jumped into the ring too early. Ever started crying during or right after make-up sex? Yep…the wound is still too fresh.

5. Make-up sex can trick you into avoiding vulnerability.

Remember what I said about getting real? It’s so important. If you look to sex to say everything to your beau that you verbally can’t express, you’re likely struggling with being vulnerable. (I hear you…it’s not fun.) Of course, sometimes actions speak louder than words — but action shouldn’t be the only way you deal with conflicts in the relationship.

Not sure if that’s you? “One tip-off is that you feel relieved when you move into sex, and then frustrated or disappointed when your partner still wants to talk about the issue afterwards,” Bobby says. In this case, talk is not cheap.

6. Make-up sex might provoke you to pick fights.

Adrenaline = hot sex. No problem there if you want to fake fights about petty things like smelly trash and use it as foreplay to get all hot and bothered. But if your desire for angry sex starts becoming especially vindictive, or make-up sex is the only time you have good sex, that’s when it’s no longer serving you. In fact, that can be a sign of a dysfunctional or toxic relationship, Brim says.

7. Makeup sex should never be used as a bargaining tool.

Say it with me now: Don’t. Use. Sex. As. A. Manipulation. Tactic. Has anything good and healthy ever come from an ultimatum in a relationship? (Don’t talk to me about Katie and Schwartz from Vanderpump Rules). Brim warns against using (or withholding!) sex to get your partner to ultimately agree with you, apologize, or decide something in your favour.

Now, if you want to connect in a hot and steamy way, celebrate an argument fought and dismissed, or take a new avenue to resolution, in the words of Brim, “let it flow.”

This article was originally published on www.womenshealthmag.com

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