How to know if you’re sexually compatible

May 11,2021

“I just wonder if we’re truly sexually compatible…”

If you’ve ever doubted this in your own relationship, you know just how painful it can be to consider this question.

“Is it normal to fight about sex this much?”
“Are we doomed if we’re just not on the same page about sex?”
“Is sex important enough to break up over?”

So today let’s tackle the big question…

What does it really mean to be sexually compatible?

I’d like to present to you my model of the six sides of sexual compatibility!

Side #1: Frequency

OK, let’s get this one out of the way first because it’s the thing that comes to mind for most people when they think about sexual compatibility. 

Yes, it is important to be on roughly the same page about how often you want to be intimate. Someone who wants sex once a day is going to have a hard time being in a relationship with someone who wants it once a month. 

But I think most people drastically overestimate the importance of frequency. It’s simply not the most important aspect of compatibility. 

Plus, frequency is always in flux. It’s not like any of us can solemnly swear we’ll want to have sex exactly twice a week for the rest of eternity! 

You’ll go through periods where you want sex less often or more often, and so will your partner. 

So you don’t need to be on exactly the same page about frequency. You just need to be roughly in the same ballpark. 

Side #2: Preferences

This facet includes:

This is another commonly misunderstood facet. Most people worry that they need to be in perfect alignment about their exact likes and dislikes in the bedroom.  

But there’s room for a lot more flexibility! 

For example, 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! 

Side #3: Mood

Just as important as the acts you like to perform in the bedroom is the atmosphere that you like to create during sex. 

What kind of environment do you need to feel desire and enjoy yourself?

What kind of energy or connection do you like to experience during sex?

How do you like to set the mood for intimacy?

You won’t always be on the exact same page about the kind of mood you’re going for, but you want to make sure the overall vibe is similar. 

Side #4: Safety

This is an often-overlooked aspect of compatibility, but it’s an important one. 

Like I mentioned above, it’s common and normal to not be on the same page about the exact things you want to do in the bedroom together. But you have to consider how safe – or unsafe – you feel stretching your comfort zone to accommodate your partner’s needs. 

Because the bottom line is that we all deserve to feel safe during sex. 

For example, I once worked with a couple where the woman had experienced sexual abuse in the past. To her, safety felt like going slow, getting clear and enthusiastic consent at each step, and maintaining eye contact. Her partner understood this rationally, but wanted to have sex that, to him, felt animalistic and unrestrained. Neither person was “wrong”, but in the end, they just weren’t the right fit for each other. 

Side #5: Beliefs about sex

Just like you want to find a partner who shares your values outside of the bedroom, you want to be in alignment with your values when it comes to sex! 

This includes your beliefs, values, and needs around relationship structure, monogamy, kink, and more. 

For example, a person who wants a monogamous relationship is not going to be a great fit for someone who wants an open one.

Side #6: Effort

Out of all of those components, the willingness to put effort into your sex life is the most important one! 

Keeping your sex life romantic, intimate, and hot over the course of years (or even your entire lifetime!) takes a LOT of effort!

Most people think that good sex is just supposed to happen naturally (because that’s the only way we ever see it on TV, in the movies, and in porn), but that couldn’t be further from the truth.

Great sex requires great effort. 

One of the traps people fall into with compatibility is thinking that it’s a static thing, when in reality it’s constantly evolving. 

It could initially seem like you and your partner are totally on the same page. But like I said above, your tastes and desires are going to change over time. 

You’re also going to have to weather a lot of changes in your relationship. You’re going to have children or pets. You’re going to get new jobs and your schedules are going to change. You’re going to get illnesses or injuries. You’re going to go through good times and bad times.

So it’s important to find a partner who is willing to work on your sex life with you, on an ongoing basis.

If you and your partner can acknowledge and respect your similarities and your differences, and put effort into your sex life, you’ll be set for a happy relationship for years to come! 

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HI THERE!

I'm Vanessa Marin, a sex therapist and writer specializing in helping you have more fun in the bedroom.

I have bachelor’s degrees in human sexuality and sociology from Brown University, and a master’s degree in counseling psychology from the California Institute of Integral Studies. I’m also a licensed psychotherapist. I’ve been working in the sex therapy field since 2002 and have been featured by The New York Times, O: The Oprah Magazine, Real Simple, and many more.

If you’re interested in improving your sex life, you can work with me via my online courses or personal coaching sessions. I look forward to supporting you in creating the sex life you’ve always wanted!