Sex Advice

In My Long-Term Partnership, Making Up Doesn’t Include Makeup Sex—Should I Be Worried?

Alexandra Fine

Photo: Getty Images/MoMo Productions
With Good@Sex, your pleasure is the priority, and every question is a good one. Whether you’re curious about a shift in libido, want intel about a certain relationship dynamic, are interested in exploring an untapped avenue of your sexuality, or anything else, Alexandra Fine—sexologist, co-founder and CEO of Dame Products, and Well+Good Changemaker—has an answer to offer. Read more stories from Good@Sex

Question:

I’ve been with my partner in a committed, monogamous relationship for a long time, and while in our earlier years, we would turn to makeup sex after fighting, that hasn’t happened as of late. We’re still making up and resolving our issues, but are we missing out on something great by forgoing makeup sex? Furthermore, is premature makeup sex (that is, makeup sex without fully resolving an issue first) something to worry about?

Answer

Makeup sex is a fascinating concept to me.

In the beginning of a relationship, any fight or argument or even bickering session can make the still-fragile partnership feel at risk, leading participants in the relationship to contemplate life outside of it. So, upon resolving the issue and any bad feeling tied to it, reconciling can likewise feel dramatic—and can offer a heightened sense of intimacy.

Down the line in a relationship, when each disagreement (they continue to happen!) isn’t met with a worry for ending the union altogether, there are still reasons many experience makeup sex. For some, a fight with someone you’re close to can feel like a threat to your sense of security, and one that makeup sex can help restore. For others, arguing with a partner can feel like verbal foreplay; the tension builds and builds until it gives way to sensual passion. And if arguing makes you feel distant from your partner, reconciliatory sex can help to restore feelings of intimacy and closeness.

As a relationship matures, I think the lack of makeup sex isn’t something to worry about at all. In fact, it should be something to celebrate.

But now let’s talk about your situation: a long-term, committed relationship that’s not threatened by every little argument. While this reality may well lead to less sexually explosive resolutions, this is likely only reflective of the strong, secure foundation that supports your healthy partnership. And that’s a beautiful thing. As a relationship matures, I think the lack of makeup sex isn’t something to worry about at all. In fact, it should be something to celebrate.

I am also sensing, though, that you miss the spikes of passion that often come with exploring a new relationship. And I feel you there! There are emotional and physiological reasons for this dissipation… or dissipassion, if you will. I’m sure many of us wish we could invent a pill that made that rush of new-relationship passion come back. But, in lieu of that, my best suggestion for reigniting the flames of passion is to create space for it. The realization that you can comfortably be separate is the best way to reaffirm a long-term relationship and re-engage desire.

And regarding your question about premature makeup sex, I implore you to ask yourself whether you are taking the proper space to contemplate the root of your argument. This introspective effort will not only help to facilitate desire to reconnect, but it will also help you to ensure that you’re prioritizing your needs and not just seeking resolution out of discomfort.

The bottom line is that I don’t see makeup sex as a foundational requirement for a healthy long-term relationship. If anything, it is a hallmark of an early phase of a relationship and can even present red flags if it happens consistency and for a long duration of a relationship. I do, however, believe it’s common to miss out on sex when we don’t prioritize having it. But, prioritizing sex doesn’t need to require you having a dispute with your partner.

As CEO of Dame Products, Alexandra Fine translates the nuances of our sexualities into human-friendly toys for sex and sexual wellness products. A lifelong student of sexual health, Alexandra earned her master’s in clinical psychology with a concentration in sex therapy from Columbia University. In founding Dame Products, she intends to start necessary conversations, to listen rather than assume, and to create products that enhance intimacy.

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