Some of us storm out in a huff. Some people cry. Others shout.
And others just ignore the problems or bash them out by engaging in hot, angry argument sex or sweet, gentle ‘let’s just forget our issues and move on’ sex.
We use sex as a way to put a hot, sexy plaster on our relationship problems, basically.
But while that may feel like it works, a new study suggests it might not – especially for women.
A new study titled Sex Differences in Reconciliation Behavior After Romantic Conflict (sounds hot) suggests that while men like receiving sexual favours (we reckon that means a blow job) or a ‘kind gesture’ after an argument, women don’t find sexual resolutions as helpful.
Instead of make-up sex, the women surveyed said they’d rather their partner apologised, had a cry, and spent time with them.
Both genders said they liked gifts after a fight, but men were more likely to suggest gifts as a way to resolve things than women. Interesting.
The survey size was pretty small, however, so it’s difficult to generalise to the wider population.
Researchers asked just 74 people to rate common reconciliation behaviours by their effectiveness, and while men showed a stronger preference for sexual acts as a way to resolve issues, women weren’t completely turned off by the idea. They just tended to rate communication more highly.
The researchers reckon the difference is down to gender-specific reasons people stay in relationships.
Previous studies suggest that men are more likely to stay with partners who are ‘sexually accessible’ (meaning they have regular sex, basically), so it makes sense that they’d appreciate sex as a way to make things better.
Women, meanwhile, prefer signs of emotional, rather than sexual commitment, so they’re more likely to want to work through feelings rather than just sexing away the problem.
That being said, the findings only suggest what men and women think they find helpful when it comes to resolving arguments – not what’s actually most effective.
It’s possible that while people think they’d like sex or talking to fix things, the opposite might work better for their specific relationship. There’s not necessarily one right answer.
What we can learn from the research is not ‘stop having make-up sex’, but that what we consider an effective way to resolve things might not be what our partner would choose.
Be open to multiple techniques, ask the person you’re dating what’s helpful, and don’t just do what makes things better for you and assume everything’s sorted.
Have sex if you both fancy, but have a chat afterwards. It’s probably the healthy thing to do.