My girlfriend and I have noticed something we've fallen into, and we wonder what your take on it might be. We've been together for three years, lived together for two. The first year was largely conflict-free, because we were on our best behavior. The second year we started having spats. Nothing serious, but there were verbal exchanges. Then we'd kiss and make up. The third year, also known as this past year, we fought harder and more often. But we always kissed and made up. And as the fighting's escalated, so has the kissing and making up. By "kissing and making up," I'm referring to make-up sex, of course. After a big fight, the sex is pretty intense, if only because the juices are already flowing before we even start.
What we're wondering is whether we might be unconsciously starting these fights for the make-up sex. As much as we argue, we don't really disagree on anything important. And neither of us wants to break up. But we also know that arguing all the time can't be good for the relationship. Or can it? Can a couple use conflict to spruce up its sex life without knowing it's doing it?
Hot and Bothered
Hot and Bothered: Your situation reminds me of those old "Saturday Night Live" skits with Cheri O'Teri and Chris Kattan, in which they played a couple who, regardless of where they happened to be at the time and starting with some innocuous remark that had absolutely nothing to do with sex, would dirty-talk themselves into Public Displays of Dry-Humping. Were they using conflict to spruce up their sex life? You betcha! Did they know they were doing it? Of course. And is it difficult to draw conclusions from them because they're merely characters in a comedy sketch? Oh, probably. I just wanted to point out that, like them, you and your girlfriend seem to be consciously aware of your unconscious drives, so how unconscious can they be?
Let me put it another way: If you find yourself pulling the sheets down on the bed, adjusting the lights and sucking on a breath mint right before telling your girlfriend that, no matter what she just said, you're in total disagreement with her, then it's time to either 1) see a conflict-resolution expert or 2) load up on lube. And I would tend to recommend the latter, because, by that time, your own conflict-resolution technique will have become so ritualized, so institutionalized, that the conflicts themselves will be almost incidental. In other words, you'll be so busy making love that you won't have had time to make war. That's the theory, anyway. Of course, should an actual conflict arise, one that needs actual resolving, well...
...well, then get an extra tube of lube, because the make-up sex will be even more incredible! Unfortunately, that will lead to a consciously unconscious desire on both your parts to have an even bigger fight the next time. And the next time. And the time after that. Eventually, the two of you will be issuing death threats to each other while ripping your clothes off. And that's the problem with make-up sex: Like any other drug, it requires increasing doses to have the same effect, if used often enough. Haven't you noticed that, at your current conflict-resolution levels, the sex has gotten a little routinely out of the ordinary? Doesn't she tend to bite your ear in exactly the same way every time? Yeah, I thought so.
My advice would be that the two of you find a way to resolve your conflicts without the promise of make-up sex, then have the sex anyway. It may not be a peak experience, but peak experiences are by definition rare. Have caviar often enough and it starts to taste like fish eggs.