Make-Up Sex 101

By Gabrielle Kassel / 20 August 2020

Fire-up freaking. Horngry humping (that’s horny + angry). Impassioned intercourse. Whatever you call it, many lovers claim make-up sex = best sex.

But what is make-up sex, exactly? Why does it happen? And for orgasms sake, why is it so damn hot!?

Read on to find out.

What is make-up sex?

What is make-up sex?

Depends who you ask. For some, make-up sex is any kind of sexual or sensual exchange that happens directly after you and your boo have already talked your shit through, says Dirty Lola, a sex educator and product and hose of the Sex Ed A-Go-Go live show and podcast, and co-host of New York Magazine’s The Cut’s “Sex Probz” web series. For others, make-up sex is when fucking occurs mid-way through a fight.

Whatever definition you use though, make-up sex is almost always intense and passionate AF. (Need proof? Hollywood is more than happy to provide it. Just check out this NSFW vid Sex And The City scene or that iconic Notebook moment).

Why does make-up sex happen?

Looking for something to thank your phenomenal post- (or mid-) fight freaking? That something is adrenaline, according to Dirty Lola. “Fighting creates an adrenaline rush that creates a physical experience that is very closely tied to our arousal response,” she says. Think about it: During both a battle and bang your heart rate soars, pupils dilate, and breath quickens.

A couple arguing prior to make-up sex

When you fight with someone(s) you’ve got the hots for, says Dirty Lola, that fight-induced-adrenaline can transition into erotic desire. (The official psychological term for this is arousal transfer). She emphasizes that physical attraction to the person is key. “It’s why you don’t get horny when quarreling with your brother, but might when you’re fighting with your boo,” she says.

Another chemical culprit: cortisol. Known as the stress hormone, cortisol spikes when we fight. And when our cortisol levels skyrocket, our bods crave feel-good hormones such as dopamine, oxytocin, and serotonin—all of which orgasming releases. So, in some instances it may not actually be the sex that motivates make-up sex, but the orgasm.

Sex and relationship therapist Shadeen Francis, LMFT adds, “Some people have make-up sex because it’s the only way they know how to re-connect after conflict.”

The benefits of make-up sex

No doubt, make-up sex can be intense. But, like, is it actually beneficial for the relationship and people in it. It can be. Here’s why.

1. Marks a clear before and after

You squabbled. You talked it through. You came up with a solution. You’re not mad anymore. And yet… the energy between you and your boo is still wack.

That’s where make-up sex comes in.

2. Gives folks a way to communicate without words

According to Dirty Lola, people who’s love language is touch may be especially prone to having make-up sex. “It allows people who are not best at communicating their love or apology through words, to do so with their body.” (Don’t know your love language? Take the official assessment online.)

3. Can bust through stress

No matter the circumstance, anytime hitting all the bases lands you an O, which as we’ve established are stress-busting perks.

4. Relieve pent up frustration

Sure, sometimes our fights are routed Very Real Issues. But other times, notes Francis, “couples can have arguments that have very little significance in terms of the content.”

Instead, she says, “they’re arguing because they have pent up frustration, or are tired, or are stressed about something unrelated to the relationship, or restless.” In these instances, sex can help people find release and relief, she says.

5. Intimacy

“Sex can bring about intimate feelings and vulnerability,” says Francis. And fights—especially resolved fights—feature their own kind of emotional intimacy, she says. Basically, make-up sex is an intimacy cocktail.

How to have make-up sex

There is a right and wrong way to have make-up sex. Keep these tips in mind to keep the sexperiance pleasant, pleasurable, and fair.

1. Do a temperature check

“You should only proceed with the sex if you both want to have the sex,” says Dirty Lola. “Right after or during a fight is not a fair time to ask your partner to try to get in the mood if they aren’t.”

Here are some ways to gauge your partner’s interest and ask for consent:

– “I want to resolve this, but I also want to let you know that this is making me really horny. Are you feeling that, too?”.

– “I know we just resolved a fight and it’s OK if you’re not in the mood, but I’d love to feel physically close to you right. Is that something you’re in the mood for?”.

2. Get detailed about what type of sex

Cool, so you both want to fight freak. But what is the quality of that sex? Is it fast and furious? Slow and sensual? Kinky and erotic?

Some questions you can ask are:

– “What are you craving right now?”

– “Do you want me to [insert act] or [insert act]?”

– “Do you want to show me how you want to be touched right now?”

3. Set up expectations

Is the fight over? Is this The End of the fight? Or, are you going to want to continue hashing out the argument after sex? Dirty Lola says it’s good practice to establish where on the mending journey you are ahead of boning.

4. Communicate, communicate, communicate

An essential component of consent is that it’s ongoing. So, continuing to check in mid-coitus is always important. “But when adrenaline is high, it is easy especially to misinterpret cues, skip important conversations, or feel pressured to do things you don’t really want to,” says Francis. “So it’s especially important to continue checking in with your partners to make sure they’re still comfortable.”

If anyone expresses hesitation, uncertainty, or changes their mind, STOP.

5. Practice aftercare

“After sex you want to check in on your partner,” says Francis. “Check in on their needs and made sure you’re both on the same page.”

Some questions you might want to ask are:

– “Wow, that was really [insert adjective] for me. How are you feeling?”

– “Can I get you anything? Water? Chocolate? A warm face cloth?”.

– “What do you need right now?”

The best positions for make-up sex

Typically, make-up sex is all about body contact and eye-contact.

Of course, as Francis says, “Sex is personal. So, the best make-up sex positions and activities should be chose based on what feels good on your bodies.”

But if you need some inspo, we’ve got your back.

Missionary

Make-up sex is a good time to bring back the classic.

Missionary is one of the best positions for make-up sex

“Missionary really is one of the more intimate positions,” says Dirty Lola. Why not make it more intimate by whispering sweet somethings into your Sweetie’s ear? Or, by eye gazing with them start-to-climax?

Spooning sex

Here, the penetrating partner curls around the receiving partner like a big spoon from behind. “You don’t get eye-contact but you do get lots of full-body contact which can create a sensation of safety,” says Dirty Lola.

Not into penetration? Rather than having your partner enter you from behind, have them reach around you with a long-handled vibrator like the Le Wand OG. Or, slide the palm-sized Le Wand Point into your underwear or harness and allow the rumbly vibrations to ~take you there~ while your partner holds you.

Flat doggy style

Got a standing mirror hanging around? If it’s not there already (*devil emoji*), reposition it in front of the bed. Next, have the receiving partner lay on their stomach and the giving partner lay flat on top and enter from behind.

The flat doggy style is another great position during make-up sex

“Lock eyes with them in the mirror while they’re inside you for a truly magical moment of connection,” says Dirty Lola. “And don’t be too shy to look at yourself—seeing yourself be physically vulnerable and open can promote feelings of emotional openness and vulnerability,” she says.

There are cons of make-up sex to consider

Make-up sex isn’t ALLLLL moans and moxies. Sometimes make-up fucking flops! Bad make-up sex is especially common when the fight itself stemmed from poor communication or lack of communication, says Dirty Lola. After all, communication is a key pillar of good sex. (Well, communication, consent, and lube).

She adds that make-up sex can also veer South when you overestimate its power. She explains: banging like bunnies can only help you move through a fight if after, you communicate like grown-ass adults. The root issue doesn’t suddenly disappear because you got your rocks off. In other news, make-up sex can be part of the resolution but it can’t be the whole kit and kaboodle.

“Make-up sex can also go very wrong if it’s only make-up sex for one person, and break-up sex for the other,” says Dirty Lola. Yeah, yikes.

What’s the difference between make-up sex and breakup sex?

“Ultimately, the difference between make-up sex and breakup sex comes down to the intention of the people having it,” says Francis. Is this one last hoorah? Is it a celebration of the past? That’s breakup sex.

If it’s a nod to both the past and the future, however, it’s make-up sex. “Another difference, of course, is what happens once sex is over,” she says. 

Unfortunately, she says, it’s not always clear what type of sex it is in the midst of it. “Often folks are not clear about what their intentions are, which can leave one or all parties feeling unpleasantly surprised and hurt when they realize their expectations and their partners do not align.”

To avoid that admittedly very painful misunderstanding communicate, communicate, and communicate some more. Actually, this is good advice for making the most of make-up sex and resolving your little tussle, too.

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