Contrary to what many of us would like to believe, sexual compatibility doesn’t just happen naturally—it takes time and deliberate effort. Because sexual desires and expectations are highly personal, even if you and your partner have a lot in common, you’re going to have some differences.
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, not to mention unhealthy and incredibly boring—your bodies are different! However, for some reason, we expect our sex lives to fall into place effortlessly, and when it doesn’t happen, we feel let down.
The most important part of compatibility is the willingness to work on it
Our levels of desire, turn-ons, and turn-offs naturally change and evolve over time, so ongoing communication is important. If you and your partner value your sex life and are willing to put in the effort, you’re more likely to be compatible.
Accepting your incompatibility will make you more compatible
Huh? You might be scratching your head, but accepting that you’re going to disagree sometimes will help you become more compatible. In a healthy relationship, you will fight, because when you disagree, you can start to understand each other and improve your connection. When it comes to sex, every couple will face compatibility issues. The idea of a perfect fit is a myth, so if your sex needs aren’t synced, it doesn’t mean you’re incompatible—it means you’re normal. Don’t be discouraged by your differences—use it as fuel to talk about what you want and be sure to frame your requests positively and not as complaints. “You’re so sexy, I love feeling your hands all over my body,” will get you a lot farther than, “You never touch me.”
When it comes to sex, compatibility is about quality – not quantity
When you think of sexual compatibility, it’s easy to think about how often you’re having sex. But this is only one piece of the compatibility puzzle. Once you start focusing on the quality of your intimate interactions, you’ll be able to focus on overcoming your differences in desire levels. Many people worry they’re incompatible because one person wants sex more than the other. This imbalance is going to happen, but it’s manageable if you can shift the focus away from frequency, and counting how many times you’ve had sex this week (or month), and instead on what you’re doing to maintain and deepen your sexual connection. Flirt, send some dirty text messages, and figure out what gets your partner hot and bothered. Frequency will fall into place naturally as you take the pressure off yourselves.
You can develop greater compatibility
Just because you feel mismatched today doesn’t mean you can’t work things out and develop greater compatibility in the future. Much of what we do and know about sex is learned behaviour and can be unlearned or re-learned. This is where the assistance of a Sexologist or Sex Therapist can help you identify the disrupters in your sex life from your upbringing, past relationships, and society.
It’s a convenient story we tell ourselves that we’re just the way we are when it comes to sex—it’s just not true!
Don’t give up, give a few of these Sexologist-approved tips to take your sexual compatibility to another level.
1. Do it yourself
If you’re dealing with differences in desire (PS – we all are), the person who wants sex more often should consider taking things into their own hands—literally. Just as you can’t eat every meal together, you can’t share every sexual experience together. Learn to give yourself a little loving first!
2. Take turns initiating
If your partner is normally chasing you, it’s time to step up to the plate and express your own desire by chasing them. Sharing this fun responsibility will help maintain balance in your relationship and cultivate more intimacy.
3. Be mindful of your accelerators and brakes
In Emily Nagoski’s book, she says that instead of a “sex drive,” think of it more as your car with a brake and an accelerator. Some people have sensitive brakes, meaning they can easily become uninterested in sex because of other wants, and some have sensitive accelerators, meaning they’re easily reminded and interested in sex, like a sensitive gas pedal. We typically think we need more stimulation of the accelerator when in reality, we need less stimulation of the brakes.
For the car to start moving, you need to let your foot off the brake. This means letting go or taking care of other needs that are ahead of your sexual gas pedal. For a busy mom with a sensitive brake pedal, the kids are cared for, the laundry and dishes are done and there’s nothing else going on. Your level of arousal is the balance of the brakes and gas.
4. Practice mindfulness around pleasure and responsive desire
Culturally we tend to believe that feeling desire is normal. There are two types of desire— responsive and spontaneous. Responsive desire is an anticipation of pleasure, when pleasure comes first and desire follows as a result. Spontaneous desire is a well-established desire, where the interest is already there. Recognizing this can change your sexual goals from thinking you need to want to have sex to just being willing to have sex—try it and see what happens!
Whether you’re experiencing high desire or low desire, spontaneous desire or responsive desire— you are totally normal. Your sexual compatibility will evolve and grow, and what you put into it, is what you’ll get out of it.
“[Eroticism is] the poetry of the body, the testimony of the senses. Like a poem, it is not linear, it meanders and twists back on itself, shows us what we do not see with our eyes, but in the eyes of our spirit. Eroticism reveals to us another world, inside this world. The senses become servants of the imagination, and let us see the invisible and hear the inaudible.” – Octavio Paz
Kelly McDonnell-Arnold MA, MBA, RSW is a Clinical Sexologist and Psychotherapist with a Master’s degree in Forensic Sexology and a sought after expert and personality in the field of human sexuality. Kelly is passionate about providing ‘sex-positive,’ fresh, and reliable sexology information in all its complexity (but in a simple-to-understand message), empowering others to explore and own their sexuality.
Kelly is dedicated to helping you build a life that you truly love. She’s the down to earth, whip-smart professional who takes her work seriously, but never herself. Check out her honest & inspiring sex and relationship e-courses, find her running a bustling therapy practice in Uptown Waterloo, Bliss Counselling, or check out her sexuality series ‘Sex Talk with Kelly’ on Rogers TV.