Are You and Your Partner Sexually Compatible?
Love and sex are not the same things, though both contribute to our sexual identity. Only we can determine our own sexuality, but many terms fly around that may be confusing. “Sexual compatibility” is one such phrase used in many different contexts, but what does it mean for you?
What Is Sexual Compatibility?
Getting physical in the early stages of love can come with trials and tribulations, many of which are totally normal. But how do you know if you’re sexually compatible? And what do you do if the warning bells are going off, and you think you might not be? If you find yourself nervous about the situation, regardless of which way the balance scale dips, there are ways to maintain your relationship and grow from the experience. “I encourage couples to bring the focus back to their erotic wellness,” says relationship and sexuality expert Sari Cooper.
Sari Cooper, LCSW, CST, is a certified sex therapist and coach. She is the director of the Center for Love and Sex and founder of Sex Esteem, an empowerment coaching program to enhance adults’ sexual confidence.
Signs You Are Sexually Compatible
If you and your partner are sexually compatible you will share the same or similar erotic turn-ons and -offs and like to engage in the same sexual activities, explains Cooper. This can also encompass sharing a similar temperament, tolerance, or desire to engage in new sexual experiences or, in contrast, having a common outlook on sticking to a “more familiar range of behaviors.” In short, if you find that you and your partner are usually on the same page sexually-having common fantasies, enjoying similar sexual acts, have aligned expectations of frequency and duration, hold similar inclinations to try (or not try) new things-you can probably rest assured you’re sexually compatible.
What to Do If You’re Not Sexually Compatible
Sexual incompatibility does not have to be a deal-breaker. Here are a few things to consider if you and your partner aren’t on the same page.
Unpack Sexual Compatibility for Yourself
Start with yourself and try to get specific about the aspects of sexual compatibility you think are missing. “Most people who are easily embodied (their mind and body are well-integrated) are pretty aware and can describe what turns them on. There are some folks who, for many reasons (childhood shame, history of sexual assault, gender dysphoria), are not as able or comfortable in accessing what exactly their erotic triggers are,” explains Cooper, who employs mindfulness-based techniques to explore activated arousals in the body. “For folks who are more embodied, I invite them to list all of the erotic triggers they are currently aware of and those that they would be open to potentially exploring either on their own or with a partner.” Taking a step back to think about your own sexual history might be helpful in this process.
Approach Without Blame
Because of the high emotions and guilt involved when it comes to conversations about problems in the bedroom, it’s easy to point fingers. You need to find a way to talk with your partner about this without blaming one another.
“A critical skill that many partners aren’t practiced in doing is talking about sex they truly desire. The way to begin is by letting your partner know the aspects of the relationship you truly enjoy including nonsexual qualities,” explains Cooper. “Then using ‘I’ statements, expressing some of the things one is curious to incorporate into one’s sexual life, like ‘I love kissing for a long time as a way of getting into an erotic space with you, could we try doing a makeout session in which we explore soft kissing without using our tongues at all?'”