Nothing beats the feeling of getting steamy with someone who understands you, like buying clothes online that fits you perfectly… or a new sex toy that hits the spot.
But how do you find your other half? Or figure out whether your current partner is the one?
It all comes down to sexual compatibility. It doesn't necessarily mean being similar in character or personality, but rather that your sexual beliefs, preferences, and desires align.
This isn't always easy to explain, but it is crucial for your relationship. Compatibility with your partner is related to things like sexual satisfaction and overall satisfaction with your relationship. One study found that perceived sexual compatibility was the strongest predictor of sexual satisfaction among heterosexual couples. Besides sexual pleasure, the strongest predictor of relationship satisfaction was also sexual compatibility.
Breaking down sexual compatibility with your partner means taking a deep dive into your relationship and your body's needs.
Let's look at what sexual compatibility means and whether or not it can make or break your relationship.
What Does Sexual Compatibility Mean?
Good question. In basic terms, sexual compatibility is all about how your beliefs and your partner's thoughts about the sex line up. This can include how you define sex, how often you want to have sex, and your turn-ons and turn-offs.
The more you and your partner align in these preferences, the more sexually compatible you are.
In an interview with Elite Daily, sex coach Gigi Engle breaks it down further. "Sexual compatibility occurs when two or more bodies and minds match up during a sexual experience," she said. "You're super into the things this person does to your body: the way they kiss, their smell, their sexual technique. You have chemistry, and things are hot. It means there's a spark. Everything sort of works."
What Are the Key Factors That Play a Role in Sexual Compatibility?
Sexual compatibility isn't just about liking the same things in the bedroom. It's about a broader alignment in your overall sex life and relationship that makes something fresh, exciting, and intimate in the bedroom.
Here are a few of these factors that can help sum up sexual compatibility in a relationship:
- Libido (frequency and duration)
- Level of commitment (monogamy vs. open relationship)
- Good communication
- Listening to each other's wants and needs
Above all, you and your partner have to be on the same page about your expectations. Listening to each other's needs can help you create a more sensual and satisfying experience in the bedroom — for everyone involved.
How Do You Discover If You're Sexually Compatible With Your Partner?
If you're lucky, you might be able to feel it out. There might be an immediate spark or sexual attraction between the two of you. But every relationship has trials and tribulations, both inside and outside the bedroom. Plus, things are likely to change over time.
Before you sound the alarm about your sexual compatibility, there are a few starter questions to ask yourself (and your partner):
- What's your sexual style?
- What's your sex drive like?
- Are you open to experimenting or trying new things?
- Are you enjoying your current sex life?
- How often are you having sex?
- How often would you like to have sex?
- Is there anything you'd like to see changed about your sex life?
It isn't always cut and dry when it comes down to discovering sexual compatibility. To guide you on your journey, we've compiled a few quizzes ( The Sexual Compatibility Quiz by Dr. Stan Hyman and "Are you Sexually Compatible?" by Men's Health) that ask the difficult questions and help you get to the bottom of things in your relationship.
What Are the Signs to Look For in Discovering Sexual Compatibility?
While it might be subjective, there are a few things that can give you a sense of whether or not you and your partner are on the same frequency. Here are a few signs of sexual compatibility to look out for.
- You Have an Immediate Spark
This one feels obvious, but it's easy to forget. Did you have a spark of attraction when you first met? Even if your first forays into sex were a bit awkward, you should have some chemistry from the beginning.
- You Have Similar Sexual Expectations
People have sex for all kinds of reasons. Some people might have sex to fulfill their needs or release themselves. Others might prioritize intimacy and connect with their partner. Some people don't care much about sex, while others think it's the most critical part of their relationship.
Expectations are important, too. Some people like to be silly and playful in the bedroom, while others like it was intense and severe. While some might enjoy a more stable or vanilla sex life, others love exploring new things and playing out new fantasies.
If you and your partner aren't on the same page about expectations, it can be a lot harder to work things out in the long run.
- You're Good at Communicating
Communication is the backbone of any relationship and a necessary part of healthy and consenting sex. When it comes to sexual compatibility, it's just as critical.
You and your partner should have honest conversations about your desires and boundaries. What are you looking for in the bedroom? You should be able to exchange feedback and openly discuss problems in your sex life.
- They Respond Well to Your Needs
Have you ever asked for something in the bedroom (like your partner going down on you, trying a new sex position, or exploring a desire of yours)? If you've already given some direction on how you'd like it done, take a moment to consider how they responded. Did they act confused or uninterested? Or did they look interested or excited to respond to your desires?
This doesn't mean that they should be following your every whim without question, but it can be a great way to gauge how responsive they are to your needs — and how much effort they're willing to put in to make sure you're satisfied.
How Do You Bring Up the Discussion With Your Partner?
If you're ready to communicate with your partner, then congratulations! That's the first — and most important — step towards figuring out your sexual compatibility. Now, it's time actually to sit down and have the hard conversations.
That doesn't mean it needs to be all serious, however. Don't be afraid to use this conversation as an opportunity. Express your feelings, desires, and what you think would turn you on in the bedroom. You can get a sense of how they respond to those thoughts, as well as some of their desires.
What If You and Your Partner Aren't Sexually Compatible?
You've filled out the quiz. You've had an honest discussion with your partner. And it doesn't feel like things are lining up. Does this mean you and your partner are doomed to fail?
If you aren't on the same page with your partner sexually, you'll need to consider a few critical choices.
How significant are the differences? If you want to have sex more often and your partner doesn't, you might be able to resolve it with some compromise. If you're going to try kink play and pegging, however, and your partner says it's a hard no, then it might be harder to resolve.
How much are you willing to compromise? Even when it comes to compromising, nobody should be doing anything that crosses a boundary or makes them uncomfortable. Neither you nor your partner should be making tremendous sacrifices.
- How much effort are you willing to put in? If you're open to compromise to fulfill your partner's needs, but you aren't sensing the same energy in return, your efforts might fall flat.
Can a Relationship Last Without Sexual Compatibility?
There's no such thing as a perfect sexual match. There's always going to be something that doesn't quite line up. And, as you get older, things might change — particularly as hormones shift, libido slows down, and your desires evolve.
Sexual incompatibility doesn't need to mean the end of a relationship. However, it might take some hard work and sacrifice from both of you to reach a fulfilling compromise.
For example, if one partner prefers vanilla sex while the other wants to try something kinkier, there's no harm in exploring each other's desires. Actively participating and making an effort shows your partner that you're willing to make them happy, even if it doesn't fulfill your fetish. Of course, this should all be within your limits — an indulgence in something out of your comfort zone shouldn't mean doing anything that will trigger or upset you.
Can You Develop Compatibility Over Time?
Short answer: Yes! It's entirely normal for your compatibility to evolve.
Think about the first time you had sex with your partner. It may not always be super sexy (struggling to unzip clothing or bumping into each other awkwardly in the dark). Just because things don't slide into place right away doesn't mean that your sexual relationship is a lost cause. Sexual compatibility means that there's something there — and that there could be fantastic sex somewhere down the line.
Things can improve over time with good communication and compromise, but if your basic needs aren't being met, it's better to know sooner in the relationship than later.
Understanding Your Sexual Compatibility
Sexual compatibility doesn't mean you have to be on the same page all the time, but you do need to complement each other.
Getting down and dirty with your partner isn't just about the orgasms. It's about building a solid and intimate connection with your partner, fueled by shared understandings, needs, and wants around sex when you work together to meet each other's needs — with plenty of solid communication! — you'll find that sexual compatibility is much easier to attain.
It's okay not to be sexually compatible. Things change over time, and not all relationships last forever.
The impact of sexual compatibility on sexual and relationship satisfaction in a sample of young adult heterosexual couples. (March 2013). Sexual and Relationship Therapy.
Here’s What Sexual Compatibility Feels Like, According To Experts. (September 2019). Elite Daily.
The Sexual Compatibility Quiz. (December 2017). Dr. Stan Hyman Psychotherapy and Coaching.
Quiz: Are You Sexually Compatible? Men's Health.
20 Things to Know About Sexual Compatibility. (October 2019). Healthline.