How To Make Up (With Sex, Or Not)

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Carly, the Perpetual Girlfriend, shares relationship advice from a ‘serious girlfriend’ with ten years — and some serious oversights — under her belt. 

Some people fight just to make up. There is an exotic quality to the moment of reconciliation and I happen to be much more excited about sex when there is still a trace of anger in my lover’s eyes, but that’s just because I have daddy issues. Make up sex is a thing for a reason. It feels good to let someone make you feel good after they’ve made you feel bad, or on the flip side, revel in the power of your body over their mind. You can merrily skip past some of the dreadfully long discussion, and bask in the afterglow of orgasm with someone who moments before, you wanted to slap. It’s also interesting sometimes to incorporate these desires into your make up sex repertoire, if your partner is game. If they’re not though, you’ll end up back at square one.

The only pitfall I can identify with make up sex is that after it’s been used as an avoidance tactic for talking it out one too many times, you will likely be forced to come up with something a bit more thoughtful in order to get back to where you want to be. If you’re living together, or fighting on the regular, it pays to mix it up and try breaking the ice in an unexpected way.

Get Non-Sexually Physical

I would suggest a hearty round of play wrestling as a means to settle an argument, but in my experience that almost always ends in tears. How my face so often wants to make contact with a man’s elbow, I just do not know. What does seem to work, at least for my boyfriend, is to whisk me away in his arms to another location. Most often, that means from the bed where I am sulking under a down comforter to the great outdoors, or rather, our backyard. It is a known fact that a change of scenery can do you good in a fight and fresh air is double good if you are able to breathe. Once outside he typically feeds me a cigarette, tickles me, holds me, tries to push me off the ledge, albeit playfully, etc. But regardless of what happens after, the very act of being carried like a baby makes it hard to remain mad.

If someone is visibly tense about being in the fight, a light shoulder rub could do the trick, too. I am fond of the notion that a back massage can typically get you anywhere in life. Including into pants. The idea is to butter them up to accept your unintelligent apology, or perhaps ease them into a nap after which they will have forgotten everything! It’s genius, trust me. Draw a bath, light a candle, pour a glass. Be nice. Relaxed people are easier to deal with.

Sometimes hearing an apology is not enough, you need to read it. And reread, revisit, refresh.

I’ve Got Your Letter, You’ve Got My Song

Earlier I mentioned the power of apology in song, but what about writing? No one writes letters anymore! Once I was dating some dude for a few months when I realized I didn’t know what his handwriting looked like. Handwriting used to be something you could judge someone by, as much as the music on their Spotify playlists. Do they put hearts over their i’s? Are they an ALL-CAPS kind of guy, scribbly, or American Psycho?

When I read old letters from my ex-boyfriend (which I do kind of often) I can feel him through his handwriting. Like I can see his face kind of. But anyway, I have boxes on boxes of letters, and yes, a lot of them are “I’m Sorry” letters. Sometimes hearing an apology is not enough, you need to read it. And reread, revisit, refresh. This can especially work wonders if you’re a better writer than you are speaker. The two are not intrinsically related contrary to populist’s belief!

There are many forms of writing that can be used to persuade your wounded lover to come back to you. To dig in my own archives of apologies given/received, one that always works on me is the ‘note passing trick’. When I get mad, my schtick is slamming doors and locking myself in bathrooms. The nicest thing that can happen while I’m melting on the cold tile floor is not a scary knock or a breathy voice begging me to come out. It’s seeing something mysteriously slipped under the door. This puts the power in the hands of the person who feels wronged, which is always the first step to a happy ending. Meanwhile, the note-writer has the advantage of getting to think about what they’re writing down, instead of speaking too soon, and god forbid, engaging in another argument. Yes, sometimes it’s better not to talk. I also am a huge fan of the hand-drawn picture. Especially if it’s pathetic enough to make me smile. Or an artful rendition of my portrait or profile, boobs included.

A good apology acknowledges what one has done wrong, and makes some sort of promise (however vague) about the future and it being different.

Of course there are mistakes that just can’t be fixed by a note on paper. Perhaps there is no longer just a door in between you and your beloved, but a wide expanse, like a few blocks, or a river! Let’s hope not an ocean. This situation calls for a grand gesture. God, do I live for these? I think so.

My ex-boyfriend was somewhat of an idiot savant. I mean, basically he seemed like a really normal dude, and then we’d go to a party and it would turn out he was super spectacular at making balloon animals, and people would start lining up and digging for quarters. Naturally, he had some pretty suave moves for making up, too. For example, one time he did something pretty shitty and I stopped talking to him. For a while. It was pretty bad, and both of us were feeling low about it, to be sure. A couple days later I plopped down in my apartment and somehow managed to lift my forlorn-bedroom-heavy-lidded eyes out my window, and what should I find there but a chalk mural in which he proclaimed his love for me. It was huge, and obviously took some time, and some chalk. It was a neon reminder of how much he cared, and how far he would go to get my attention. I had to forgive him.

Breaking Down The Art of the Apology

Maybe I’m a hardass, but I will not accept just any old apology if I really feel wronged. It could have something to do with the fact that men of all types are always telling women how irrational they are, how they are clearly overreacting, and how they like to ask if we’re PMSing when we get pissed over something they see as irrelevant. When I speak for woman-kind I’m really only speaking for myself. A good apology acknowledges what one has done wrong, and makes some sort of promise (however vague) about the future and it being different. It also comes swiftly, swooping in like a maniac bird the moment there is any clue that tensions are rising. Know that you’re wrong, even if you’re not. Be sorry, because you will be sorrier when I throw all your clothes in the hall outside the door. Trust.

Carly Pifer is a self-proclaimed relationship expert, a title which she credits her uncanny hankering for marathon dating. Though she has traded partners a few times, she’s stayed married to her problems and interest in exploration on the subject. When she’s not writing about sex and relationships, she writes about fashion, travel and whatever else holds her fancy, though curiously, very little rivals her fixation on the male species.