There’s a longstanding joke that people in relationships like to argue with each other because the make-up sex is so good.
Similarly, many say that having angry sex (having sex before you’ve actually made up) is equally appealing because it’s fuelled by a primal passion.
You just have to have each other, right there, right then – even if you’re furious with the other person. There is likely some truth to it, but research around it has conflicting results.
For instance, a study from 2008 by Israel’s Bar Ilan University claimed that make-up sex is much better than plain friendly shagging, but another piece of research revealed that this works best when you’ve already made up on a psychological level (rather than having sex in the middle of a fight).
The physical reaction you have during make-up sex – feeling hornier and finding your lover extra attractive is actually your mind’s response to the ’emotional threat’ that it’s going through. In other words, the possibility that you might break up with your partner is encouraging you to make up, while the sex brings you closer together.
But is this really the case? Annabelle Knight, sex and relationship expert at Lovehoney, tells Metro.co.uk that make-up sex can be a good idea as it allows partners to reconnect, but if you’re regularly turning to sex to sort out arguments, it’s worth considering why – and if there are deeper, underlying issues (that around in the sheets can’t fix).
“There is nothing wrong with make-up sex as long as you are doing for the right reasons – emotionally reconnecting with a partner that you love and trust,” said Annabelle Knight, sex and relationship expert at Lovehoney.
“All couples row and make-up sex is a great way of getting over an argument. It can be especially exciting.
“It is a reminder that even though you can hurt each [other], you are still there for each other.
“The obvious danger with make-up sex is if you are in an abusive relationship.
“You really need to look at the reasons why you are so often having make-up sex – because your partner’s unreasonable behaviour is causing too many rows. If that is the case, it is best to look at the fundamental flaws in the relationship and either address them or walk away.
“Make-up sex is not going to paper over the cracks.”
If you’ve spent hours talking, shouting and fighting, sex can serve as a helpful break – letting you regroup, remember how much you love and care for each other and continue the fight in a settled manner afterwards. It’s harder to be angry with someone when you’re cuddled up to them post-orgasm, full of happy endorphins.
The issue here, according to Pam Custers, who runs a psychotherapy clinic and specialises in relationship issues and couples counselling, is that men and women interpret sex in different ways.
“Make-up sex can be a powerful way to heal a rift,” the psychotherapist, who is a Counselling Directory member, tells Metro.co.uk.
“Make-up sex says that all is forgiven, but it can’t be used as a quick fix.
“Generally speaking, men tend to have sex in order to feel loved and women tend to have sex because they do feel loved. This is where make-up sex can fall down.
“If the underlying cause for the discontent is not discussed and resolved no amount of make-up sex will build the bridge. Soon one person in the partnership will start to feel like there is something missing in the relationship.”
So, is there a better option? Yes – talking. “Sex is a form of communication but it can’t take the place of all types of communication. Talking and behaviour are key to a good relationship and no amount of make-up sex can take its place,” Custers explains.
“The ideal would be for good communication to resolve the issues so both parties feel heard and understood, then a way forward that is in the best interests of the relationship and then followed by the intimacy that rekindles the loving feeling.”
It’s worth noting that sometimes both talking and sex are off the table. If the anger is taking over, go for a walk, try to cool down and then sit down with your partner to hash out your issues afterwards instead.
As they say, cooler heads prevail. The danger in having make-up sex is that it may not have the same effect for both of you. And if it doesn’t ‘work’, the sex could leave you feeling worse than you did before (both about the relationship and yourself), and now you might also question why sleeping with your partner doesn’t help resolve your issues.
Especially if others around you are constantly discussing how great make-up sex is. Each relationship has its own kinks and quirks; if make-up sex works for both of you, and gives you that time to connect before looking at the bigger picture (why you were fighting in the first place), then go forth and shag.
For some people, a lack of intimacy can also be the reason couples are in a tiff, and so the sex might help. Just be safe and if you feel sex isn’t enough to resolve the matter, then it’s time for a chat with your partner.