When I work with people in relationships, a question that arises often in my sessions is: “Are we sexually compatible?”. There are a lot of reasons why people would ask me this – differences in libido, in sexual preferences, desires, different ideas what good sex looks like, etc.
In particular, different levels of libido is something that a lot of couples struggle with.
It seems that one partner usually wants it more than the other. And very few people have any helpful ideas about the reasons for this situation or about ways to address it.
Waning passion and desire is another problem that many couples face. Or keeping sex exciting instead of falling into a routine that eventually tends to become boring.
What I observe regularly is a deep sense of anxiety or fear about what they might learn about themselves in my sessions. I mean, who wouldn’t fear hearing from a sex therapist that they’re not sexually compatible with their partner?! And if that was to happen, what does it actually mean for the relationship? Is it the end? Or can they work through it?
There is no official definition of what sexual compatibility actually means.
The often-recognized meaning talks about similar sexual desires, needs and preferences. This can include things like frequency and duration of sexual intercourse, shared turn ons, preference for similar activities and forms of erotic expressions, etc.
However, I feel like this can leave a lot of couples confused. After all, not many partners share each other’s preferences and desires in the bedroom. Does it mean that they’re sexually incompatible? Not necessarily…
In my experience as a sex therapist, it’s actually quite rare to come across couples that share a lot of each other’s sexual needs and preferences.
The differences are much more common than shared ground. Yet, these couples can create very satisfying and fulfilling sex lives together. How do they do it? It requires good communication, a bit of negotiation and some give and take.
This means recognizing and expressing clearly what you desire and need in the bedroom. This also means hearing your partner and understanding their preferences. And finally, it means making sure the needs of both people are met – in a way that both can happily consent to.
It doesn’t mean you’ll always get what you want in the bedroom.
It means that sometimes you’ll be giving your partner what they desire and not necessarily getting what you want on that particular night. But it also means that your partner is going to extend the same generosity to you – taking care of your needs (potentially on a different night) and foregoing their own wants to some degree. So in this context it might be more appropriate to talk about a SCALE of compatibility as opposed to a purely binary situation where you either are or are not sexually compatible.
Successful couples are those that are willing to give to each other, not only take.
So where does sexual IN-compatibility start?
Sexual incompatibility enters the picture when fulfilling your partner’s sexual needs means creating discomfort, pain or suffering (physical, mental or emotional) for yourself. If your partner needs anal sex to be sexually satisfied, while for you anal sex tends to be uncomfortable or painful, you’re likely sexually incompatible. If your partner needs sensual evenings of intimate connection and romance which you cannot possibly imagine yourself doing because all you want is role-play and kink, you’re likely sexually incompatible…
If this is an area of struggle in your relationship, make sure to consult myself or another reputable sex therapist. A little professional help can go a long way in creating much more intimacy, passion and sexual satisfaction in your relationship. I have helped many couples re-create desire and sexual connection in their bedrooms. The world of human eroticism is deep, complex and fascinating. So it pays to get a helping hand in navigating these challenges!
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