Fighting with your partner may really be a bummer, but if there is one silver lining, it’s that after all the fighting, processing of feelings, and working things out, comes the best part: Kissing and making up. Yep, I'm talking about makeup sex. It really is the rainbow at the end of the storm. But why is makeup sex so good? Because it is — it really, really is.
To help answer this question, I reached out to Dr. Jessica O’Reilly, host of the @SexWithDrJess Podcast, to ask what it is about makeup sex that makes it so different, and if we can channel some of that energy to spice up sex in other circumstances — so that you can have all the great sex, without the fight. Good news: O'Reilly says you definitely can. This is good because, while the post-fight hookup may feel amazing, O'Reilly says the experts are split on whether it's actually good for you.
"Some psychologists believe that it rewards fighting, drama, and generally bad behavior,” O’Reilly explains. “They suggest that couples are dealing with intensely negative emotions and instead of finding a resolution, they seek an opposite experience: pleasure in sex. They argue that this type of sex isn’t 'real intimacy' and that it can lead to loneliness and the belief that everything can be fixed with sex. What a world it would be if this were true!"
But O'Reilly has a more positive outlook on makeup sex: "If the only way you resolve conflicts is through sex, I might buy into this theory. However, if you also address disagreements through communication, compromise and an action-plan for moving forward, I say go ahead and indulge in makeup sex if it tickles your fancy. After all, learning to fight effectively is a huge accomplishment. And the intense emotions and the sense of moving forward together can make post-fight sex hot and functional." But why exactly is makeup sex so amazing? Here's how O'Reilly explains it.
Arguing leaves you in a state of arousal.
Part of why makeup sex is so intense, O’Reilly explains, is that fighting leaves you primed for it. “You’ve just come through an intense experience. The chemistry in your body can lead to more passion and intensity in the bedroom. This arousal transfer (when you’re excited by one stimulus, you’re likely to associate arousal with another) can make makeup sex more exciting,” she says. To recreate this kind of energy in everyday life, she suggests doing activities that get your adrenaline pumping together. “Exercise, go dancing, go rock climbing or wrestle in your living room to reap the rewards of arousal transfer,” O’Reilly advises.
You feel closer after getting through something difficult together.
Fighting with someone you love can be really challenging and painful, but once you’ve worked through the issues, O’Reilly says you may often times actually feel closer than before the fight because you’ve overcome the challenge together. “Couples who work through difficult issues by sharing openly and divulging vulnerable feelings often report feeling more connected. Being open about your vulnerabilities can deepen your intimate bond. It’s part of the formula for intimacy,” she explains.
You don't actually have to fight it out to create these same conditions, says O’Reilly. “Most people don’t purposely put themselves in uncomfortable situations, as we’ve evolved to avoid fear, risk and discomfort. However, the we also know that the magic happens outside of our comfort zone, so you might look for ways to inject calculated risk into your relationship,” she explains. “For example, you might go to a nude beach or attend an erotic poetry reading — anything that pushes your comfort zone (but doesn’t cause significant distress) can do the trick.”
You’re more relaxed because you’ve worked through an issue.
Not only can resolving an issue with your partner make you feel closer, it can also make you feel more relaxed because you have gotten something off your shoulders, says O’Reilly. “Resolving an issue or point of contention can result in a sense of relief — especially if you’ve been holding on to negative feelings and finally have the opportunity to express them,” she explains. “When you’re more relaxed, you might find that your sexual response flows more freely.” Hence the amazing makeup sex! O’Reilly says this is just the motivation you may need to stop avoiding conflict and expressing how you feel. “Speak up when something bothers you. Conflict avoidance isn’t good for the relationship or for your sex life,” she concludes.
So, there you have it. Makeup sex really is as good as you think it is, but it turns out it's not something you need to pick a fight with your partner to experience. Makeup sex without the fight? Now that is hot.