As a sexologist, clients come to me with a wide range of issues: from broken penises (please don’t come to my office – go straight to the hospital and don’t pass GO!) to the joys and complexities of multiple orgasms, each person’s story is unique. But as much as every story is personal and one-of-a-kind, the issue of sexual compatibility in relationships is a theme that arises with almost every client I see.
This is because sexual compatibility matters in relationships. Thanks to the rules of monogamy, achieving a degree of compatibility in bed is essential to relationship success and satisfaction. Check out these 5 tips for understanding and developing sexual compatibility:
Sexual compatibility takes work.
Like all good things, sexual compatibility doesn’t always develop naturally – it really does take work. This is because sexual desires and expectations are highly personal, so even if you share a lot in common with your partner, there are bound to be discrepancies.
Could you imagine having to eat the exact same food, in the exact same quantity, at the exact same time as your partner for the rest of your lives? It would be impossible (and unhealthy) to do so because your bodies are so incredibly different. But somehow we expect our partnered sex lives to fall naturally into place and are let down when it doesn’t.
Our levels of desire, turn-ons and turn-offs change with time, so ongoing communication is indispensable to compatibility. And if there is one area of compatibility that matters most, I believe it’s the willingness to work on a relationship. If you and your partner value your sex life a to a similar degree and are willing to put in a similar amount of effort, you’re more likely to be compatible.
Accepting a degree of incompatibility is a part of compatibility.
Huh? This may sound confusing, but learning to accept that you will sometimes disagree will help you to become more compatible. In a healthy relationship, you will fight. Disagreements help you to understand one another and improve your connection.
When it comes to sex, every couple will face compatibility issues, as there is no such thing as a perfect-fit. So if your sexual needs don’t coincide perfectly, it doesn’t mean that you’re incompatible – it means that you’re perfectly normal. Rather than being discouraged by your differences, use them as motivation to start talking about your desires and be sure to frame them as positive requests and not complaints. “You’re so hot! I would love to feel your hands all over me!” will get you a lot farther than, “You never touch me!”
When it comes to sex, compatibility is about quality – not just quantity.
When people think of sexual compatibility, they often think about how often they’re having sex. But this is only one piece of the puzzle. Overcoming differences in desire levels is possible once you start to focus on the quality of your sexual and intimate interactions with one another.
Many people worry that they’re incompatible because one person wants sex more than the other. This imbalance is inevitable, but manageable if you can take the focus off of frequency alone. Stop counting how many times you’ve had sex this week (or this month) and focus instead on what you’re doing to maintain a sexual connection. Flirt, sext, tease and figure out what gets your partner all riled up – the frequency component will fall into place more naturally as you take the pressure off of yourselves.
When it comes to sex, opposites attract!
While having things in common may increase the likelihood of relationship success, sharing the same sexual interests doesn’t necessarily heighten sexual satisfaction. Opposites can increase attraction in the bedroom because you each play a different, but complementary role. For instance, if you’re naturally dominant, having a partner who prefers to follow your lead or play a more submissive position may facilitate compatibility in this respect. And though you will inevitably switch roles, evolve and experiment, this is one example of how sexual opposites attract.
Research suggests that simply perceiving yourselves as sexually compatible leads to greater sexual satisfaction than sharing the same sexual preferences. So don’t fret if you don’t share your partner’s love of hair-pulling and they just don’t seem to understand your foot fetish. You can make it work despite your dissimilarities.
You can develop greater compatibility.
Just because you feel incompatible today doesn’t mean that you can’t work things out and develop greater compatibility in the future. Try these three tips to get started:
1. Do it yourself. If you’re dealing with differentials in desire (and who isn’t?), the person who wants sex more often should consider taking things into their own hands. Literally. Just like you can’t eat every single meal together and sometimes dine alone, you can’t share every single sexual experience as a couple – learn to love yourself first!
2. Take turns initiating. If you’re used to being the object of your partner’s desire, it’s time to step up to the plate and express your own lust. Coming onto your partner and sharing this fun responsibility helps to maintain balance in your relationship and cultivate intimacy.
3. Communicate. Talk about your sexual desires, feelings, fears, limitations and fantasies. The more you share, the more likely you’ll be sexually satisfied. Even if you’ve been together for many years, talking about sex is still important, because your needs evolve with time. As awkward as these conversations may feel, the payoff is well worth it.