Sexual Compatibility: It’s Not About Instant Attraction
Sexual compatibility is one of the most important aspects of every relationship. Whenever we meet a new partner, we’re always eager to find out whether we’re compatible in the sheets.
We’re looking for that spark, that instant attraction to another person, where you can’t seem to get enough of each other and where you don’t need to talk about anything in bed because you both know what each of you likes.
However, the reality is that being sexually compatible doesn’t mean that you click in an instant, have the same libidos and sexual kinks. No two people are truly the same.
So, just like anything else in life, compatibility with your partner in bed needs to be worked on if you’re looking for longevity and happiness in your relationship.
What Does It Even Mean To Be Sexually Compatible?
Some people believe that being sexually compatible means having the same exact sex drive, sexual kinks, and preferences as your partner. In other words, they think that they must be the same as their partner or otherwise, they’re not compatible.
Licensed psychotherapist, and clinical sexologist Dr. Stan Hyman says, “Being sexually compatible is about the way you and your partner relate to each other regarding sex. It about the ease with which the two of you manage your sex lives together. It is more to do with your perspective on how the two of you feel about your differences.”
Being sexually compatible is more about your view towards sex and the ability to communicate and experiment with your partner, rather than having the same exact preferences regarding sexual activity.
This is good news because it can help take off the pressure of finding the perfect partner from the very first time.
When you have sex with someone new for the very first time, it’s not always perfect. Because you don’t know each other, there is a steep learning curve. Instead of deeming that partner unfit and incompatible with you sexually, it might be a good idea to try and work on becoming compatible.
Science Says Sexual Compatibility Is Hard Work
It’s probably not what you want to hear, but it’s true — great sex life in a relationship is hard work.
Sexual compatibility is all about great effort and putting in the work rather than finding the right partner for you. Studies show that people who believe in working to be compatible sexually with their partners have a better sex life overall than those who believe that compatibility is a given.
Our belief that sexual compatibility in a partner is a given ties closely with our belief in soulmates. In a study conducted by Marist Institute for Public Opinion, more than 73% of people claimed to believe in soulmates.
The idea that there is a perfect person out there for you, whether sexually or emotionally, can be harmful to finding a happy relationship.
In the book The Passion Paradox, authors Brad Stulberg and Steve Magness write, “Researchers have found that those who subscribe to a destiny belief system of love are more likely to end relationships when the first hint of conflict occurs; in essence, they decide, ‘This person must not be the one,’ and move on in search of someone who is the one.”
This way of thinking creates a never-ending cycle that will never satisfy your need to find the right partner for you both, sexually and emotionally.
Instead of being occupied with trying to find the perfect match sexually and emotionally, it would be better to use our time to try and work to develop intimate bonds that work perfectly for you.
Sexual Compatibility Changes With Time
Another reason why we shouldn’t focus on finding that perfect sexually compatible partner from the get-go is that our compatibility can change with time.
It’s great when you find a partner who is just like you at the beginning of a relationship, and you fully agree on what you like in bed. But just because you’re sexually compatible with your partner at the beginning of your relationship, it doesn’t mean that you’ll stay this way until the end of your days.
Social psychologist and sex expert Justin Lehmiller believes that it happens because “in the early stages of a relationship, people are in the throes of passion. The sex is bound to be exciting because it’s a novelty for everyone, and those feelings of passion make everything more intense.”
Passion is an incredible thing and with it present in a relationship, being sexually compatible is an easy thing. Once that passion exits the relationship, and it always does, sooner or later, your sex life with a partner loses its novelty.
Lehmiller suggests that instead of measuring compatibility in bed, you should consider something different in a partner instead. He says, “Something you might want to look at in a new relationship beyond “is the sex good?” is whether your partner is willing and open to trying new things.”
By determining how willing your partner is to experiment and work on changing things up in bed, you can see whether you’re going to be able to maintain your sexual compatibility in the long term. Your libido, kinks, sexual fantasies all change with age, and so does your partner’s.
If you’re willing to both experiment and try new things, then passion will never leave your bedroom.
In fact, studies report that there is a positive outcome tied with the changing sexual preferences of your partner. People in relationships where sexual transformation was present had a happier relationship and higher sexual satisfaction.
So, instead of trying to find a sexually compatible partner, you might want to find a partner who’s willing to explore new things and is not afraid of change.
Working on Being More Sexually Compatible with Your Partner
So, how can you work on being more sexually compatible with your partner? There are a few things that can help you improve your overall satisfaction in bed and in your relationship:
1. The Only Way to Improve Sexual Compatibility – Communication
Communication is key in so many different aspects of a relationship. Yet, people often like to ignore it, looking for different, more complicated ways to solve issues in their relationships and sex life.
Social psychologist and sex researcher David W. Wahl, Ph.D., believes that there is no better way to improve your sex life than to communicate. He writes, “There is only one sex tip you truly need, and it’s free. THE sex tip: Communicate. That’s it, open up and talk to your partner about what you do want, what you do not want, your sexual history, and what you feel about sex.”
Opening up and being honest with your partner about your sexual preferences, kinks, turn-ons, and even insecurities is the only path to being sexually compatible in bed.
It eliminates the space for awkward misunderstandings that can affect your self-esteem and relationship, and it can even be a turn-on and part of your sex life.
Wahl recommends opening the line of communication with your partner one step at a time. He writes, “Make a very simple declaration that you want to talk about sex openly—maybe something along the lines of “Can we agree to talk openly about what we want sexually?” This sets the stage to talk about it.”
Once you open up that line of communication with your partner, you can start being honest and truthful, building intimacy, and getting to know your partner at the same time.
Communication will also allow you to figure out whether your partner is flexible and willing to change and experiment when it comes to sexual activities, so you could determine whether you can be sexually compatible long-term.
2. Work on Your Comfort with Yourself and Your Sexuality
We all have very different views of sex and sexuality, and most of it has to do with the way we were raised. Hyman says, “Ideas about sexuality are formed early on in a person’s life.”
Because of our differences in the way we were raised to see sex and our bodies, we tend to come by obstacles that make it difficult to communicate about sex and even fully enjoy everything we’re interested in with our partner.
Before you determine whether someone is sexually compatible with you, it might be a good idea to work on your own sexuality and how comfortable you are with it and your body.
Masturbation can be a great way to get to know your body and pleasure better and get familiar and more comfortable with your sexuality. Don’t shy away from doing the work yourself because it can help you establish a healthier sexual relationship with your partner.
3. Meet in the Middle
Different sex drives are one of the sexual compatibility issues couples face, and it’s an issue that can really make your relationship hard. It’s impossible to change your sex drive, and trying to force yourself or your partner to have less or more sex can be harmful.
However, just because your sex drives don’t match exactly, while everything else seems to click just fine, it doesn’t mean that you can’t try to work on your compatibility.
What you could do, is try and meet in the middle, where both partners are comfortable. For example, if one has a lower sex drive than the other, the partner with a higher sex drive could try solo-play to satiate their libido instead of forcing the partner with lower libido to have sex more often.
This eliminates the pressure off the relationship and the partner with the lower libido because there is nothing wrong with masturbating even if you’re in a relationship. It’s normal to have different sex drives, and understanding that can make a huge difference.
Sex therapist specializing in libidos in men and women, Leigh Noren, writes, “Acceptance isn’t about admitting defeat. It’s about recognizing and appreciating that there are differences between the two of you. You can still work towards a sex life you both want while honoring that these differences exist and all that they entail.”
4. Focus on the Quality Instead of Quantity
While it’s easy to focus on sex drives and how often you have sex with your partner when talking about sexual compatibility, it might be useful to look at it from a different angle.
Instead of measuring your compatibility in bed by the quantity of activities, why not focus on the quality of time spent with the partner instead?
This will not only take off the pressure, allowing you to enjoy your sexy playtime and your partner more, but it will also help build intimacy in a relationship.
When you’re together, make sure that you’re both fully present, focused on each other, and make the best out of your time together. Being mindful and present when having sex with your partner can make a difference in how you deal with and view your mismatched libidos.
5. Consider What Things You Can Compromise On
Liking different things in bed can also be a huge obstacle when trying to work on your sexual compatibility. But it doesn’t have to be.
It’s normal that you might have things that turn you on, but don’t do the same for your partner and vice versa. This is where the communication and willingness to explore we discussed earlier comes into play.
Some things can be worked out if it gives immense pleasure to one of you, but it’s not as important to the other one. If the sexual activity is comfortable and safe for you, then why not give it a go if it blows your partner’s mind?
Sex therapist Vanessa Marin writes, “Let’s say your partner loooooves performing oral sex on you, but you’re not the hugest fan. If you feel good allowing your partner to do it for their pleasure, that’s not a problem!”
Determine what things you’re comfortable experimenting with, communicate your thoughts and emotions with your partner and find the thing that works to satisfy you both. That is how you become sexually compatible long-term.
Karolina Wilde is a sexual wellness writer. Her work has been published on The Ascent, P.S. I Love You, and Sexography reaching over 25,000+ readers. In her free time, you can find her podcasting, reading, or creating TikTok videos.