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Are We Sexually Compatible?

Aspects of Sexual Compatibility

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No simple test determines sexual compatibility between two (or more) people. Websites and magazines that offer tests or quizzes designed to help you figure this out are leading you astray. Sexual compatibility means different things to different people, and the act of evaluating it should (in my opinion) be as individual as the person defining it.

Trying to determine sexual compatibility before the fact may be simply impossible. If you know someone well but haven’t been sexual together, there may be things that will give you a sense of how sexually compatible you will be. But because most of us tend to hold our sexual cards close to our chests, the way they are when having sex may be different than the way they seem when they aren’t.

Sexual compatibility may feel unrelated to other kinds of relationship compatibility. If you’re already in a sexual relationship with someone where the sex is great but nothing else is, you may be sexually compatible but not compatible on enough other things to make the relationship work. You may also have a great relationship but feel like there’s no sexual heat, and wonder if that’s about sexual compatibility.

Remember that you have to be the ultimate judge of this. But if the sex, the relationship, or both are good enough to want to keep, there are some big questions you can ask yourself an each other to figure out what’s going on.

Aspects of Sexual Compatibility

Here are eight aspects of sexual compatibility that may help you begin to figure it out. These aren’t the only things to consider and may not be the most important ones for you, but they’re a good place to start.

How Much, How Often, How Long
Most relationships require some negotiating of needs and desires in terms of frequency of sexual activity. But if you’re always in the single digits and they’re consistently wanting double-digit frequency, it may begin to feel like a major incompatibility.

What You Do When You Do It
Allowing some room for differences, do you like the same kinds of sexual activities? Are there any sexual acts that you absolutely must have as part of your sex life but your partners refuse to engage in? As important as what you currently do and don’t do, do you and your partners share similar attitudes to trying new things?

What Sex Means
For some people, sex is deeply tied to feelings of self-worth, for some sex is a way of communicating love, for some it’s an opportunity to feel good about their body. When you talk with partners about what sex means, does it feel like you understand each other? It doesn’t have to mean the same thing, but one aspect of compatibility is the feeling that a partner “gets” you for who you are.

Sexual Communication
If you’re in a sexual relationship with someone who never wants to talk about his feelings, interests, desires, or experiences and you’re the kind of person who needs to talk about these things, there may be a compatibility issue. It’s worth thinking about how much communication you like, how much you need, and how much you could live with and then ask your partners the same questions.

Bringing Sex Into Life
Some people like to keep their sex lives separate from the rest of their lives. They don’t like to talk about sex except when they’re doing it, and they don’t want to talk with anyone other than their partner about sex. How important is it for you to integrate your sex life into your overall life? Do you feel put down ever by a partner for having related something of your sex life to something happening in your life that seems unrelated to sex? Or do you share your partners boundaries about the place of sex in daily life, whatever those boundaries may be?

Bringing Stress Into Sex
Some people bring work, family, and relationship stresses into the bedroom and their sex life. When this happens, your sex life often suffers and it may have nothing to do with your actual sexual interactions. Other people keep sex segregated, and no matter how heavy their stress load is, sex is the salvation that they turn to. How do you think you and your partners compare on this way of bringing stress into your sex life?

The Givers and the Takers
Regardless of the reasons for it, some of us are more focused on giving sexually than we are on taking and some of us are the opposite. Many of us sit somewhere in the middle, enjoying both and feeling conflict sometimes about wanting too much of one or the other. Where would you say you and your partners sit on the giving/taking scale, and how often does it create conflict?

Mutual Pleasure, Mutual Happiness
It’s worth wondering whether sexual compatibility is simply an attitude toward sex rather than some sort of fixed expression of sexual needs or desires. Along these lines, I would say that the most important element of sexual compatibility is how much you and your partners desire for mutual pleasure and mutual happiness. If you share that goal, and each of you truly gets off on being present for and participant in the others sexual pleasure, I suspect many other aspects of sexual compatibility can be reckoned with.

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