Although, conflict in relationships may often lead to a decrease in sexual desire, reports of lower relationship satisfaction, and ultimately relationship dissolution (breaking-up), recent research has discovered that conflict may not be entirely negative. In fact, the emotions produced during conflict may lead to feelings of sexual arousal.
Now, I know what you must be thinking: “Wait a minute, you’re telling me that fighting is a good thing? And that getting mad at my partner for sitting in my spot on the couch will lead to good sex?”
But don’t rush to conclusions, not all people feel the same way and not all arguments will lead to sex. However, it a nut shell, yes…. depending on the situation and the people involved, conflict can lead to great sex!
In a BRAND NEW study to be published in Personal Relationships, researchers examined the association between relationship conflict and sexual desire among 61 heterosexual couples (Birnbaum, Mikulincer, & Austerlistz, 2012). The study found that, participants (men in particular) currently experiencing relationship conflict reported greater feelings of sexual attraction to their partner than those without conflict. This can be explained by the phenomenon known in psychology as the “misattribution of arousal.” Misattribution of arousal is a term that describes the process whereby people make a mistake in assuming what is causing them to feel aroused. For example, feelings of fear have been found to be misconstrued as feelings of attraction or sexual arousal. In fact a famous study found that, when exiting a rollercoaster, heterosexual people are likely to rate opposite sex targets as more attractive than those not exiting a rollercoaster (click here for more info). This has been explained using the misattribution of arousal theory. Particularly, participants exiting the rollercoaster mistakenly construed their feelings of excitement and/or fear to be attraction and/or sexual arousal.
With regard to relationship conflict and anger, there appears to be a fine line between anger and desire. Moreover, anger during an argument may be misconstrued as sexual arousal or may act as a stimulant that can fuel desire. This may create the behaviour we commonly call “hate fucking” or “make-up sex.”
Make-up sex can be characterized by the presence of hair pulling, a fast-pace, aggression, excessive profanity and more.
Of course, this has to be consensual and agreed upon by both parties involved. Furthermore, replacing conflict-resolution processes with sex is not always the answer. However, at the very worst, even if the problem isn’t totally solved, you’ve had a little bit of fun in the bedroom in the meantime. So next time you find yourself screaming at your partner for splurging on name brand ketchup – drop your pants and see what happens. You just might be surprised at the outcome!