If you’ve ever been in an on-again, off-again relationship, you know there’s nothing like make-up sex. There’s just something about sex with someone you were recently extremely pissed off at that can feel amazing. Turns out there's a scientific explanation for why that is.
Biologically, our bodies and our brains react when we get angry and upset. Our hormone levels rise, our heart rate increases, and our breathing might change. Many of the hormones involved with anger are also involved with sexual arousal. (This also helps explain why hate sex is such a thing, BTW).
"Make-up sex tends to be amazing because post-breakup, both people’s biological attachment system are triggered,” explains Satisfyer’s Director of Education Megwyn White. “This floods the body with hormones and surges the heart rate.”
We have three hormones to thank in particular. “Adrenaline, noradrenaline, and testosterone are all released when we feel a relationship is in jeopardy,” White explains. “Your primal attachment system revs up a focus on not losing a connection that it also feels is key to your survival. Each of these hormones are also connected to sexual arousal, so even in relationships where sex is less present, this higher arousal trigger can activate the desire to connect partners back together again.”
In particular, norepinephrine — a stress hormone — plays a major role. “Feelings of romantic attachment may trigger norepinephrine, associated with feelings of longing, and are often more present at the start of a relationship,” White says. “Norepinephrine is also associated with obsessive thinking, and a person may become fixated on the ‘lost partner’ and project the good of the relationship and block out the negative experiences.”
Our body’s natural “rewards system” also comes into play. “Dopamine, which is the hormone associated with rewards, often also runs high [when we feel a relationship is in trouble] and will act as a motivator,” White explains. Dopamine is also released when we feel sexual pleasure or orgasm — it's even been called "the happy hormone."
All these hormones help explain why make-up sex is so emotionally and physically intense. “It’s no wonder that as couples come back together in sexual union, the floodgates of tension caused by all of these chemical responses in the body are able to release,” White says. ”There is a high degree of focus on the partner and their pleasure, and also receiving pleasure as these types of moments can hopefully insure attachment needs to be secured."
Remember that amazing make-up sex isn’t a sign of a relationship’s health — it’s possible and even common for unhealthy or even abusive relationships to involve make-up sex as part of a cycle of abuse. But if your fight was about your partner watching the Succession finale without waiting for you? Well, there's nothing wrong with some make-up sex then.