3 Signs You're Not Sexually Compatible With Your Partner, According To A Sex Therapist

Have you ever been with someone you really liked, and who seemed to be a perfect fit for you, except in one very important area? (The bedroom. I'm talking about the bedroom.) This person's so amazing and makes you happy in every other way, but when it comes to the horizontal happy fun times, it's just a total bust. Maybe they don't know how to turn you on, maybe you want different things, or maybe you want it at different times or in different quantities. These may all be signs you’re not sexually compatible with your partner, which sounds dire — but don't lose hope just yet.

According to Dr. Jessica O’Reilly, sexologist and relationship expert, PhD, and host of the @SexWithDrJess podcast, “You have to cultivate sexual compatibility — it’s not something you find," which means, “if you have different interests and expectations when it comes to frequency or preferred sexual activities, you can still make it work.” So, if you and your partner aren’t automatically on the same page sexually, she says not to give up, but instead to work on your communication and let them know what you need, because “once you understand one another’s expectations, you can find a way to meet one another’s needs.”

Knowing that compatibility is something you can work on if it doesn't just immediately happen does offer couples struggling with this problem a lot of hope, but there are still some situations where two people are just not going to be able to get on the same page. In that case, here are some signs that may indicate that you and your SO just are not sexually compatible, according to Dr. Jess.

1When you can’t come to a mutually satisfying compromise about sex.

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In relationships, it's all about striking a mutually satisfying balance, and that's especially true when it comes to sexual compatibility. If one of you is unhappy with your sex life, it’s up to the two of you to work together to find what compromises will make each partner happy. However, as Dr. Jess says, “If one partner believes that they’re entitled to unilaterally dictate how often you have sex,” then you are facing a serious compatibility problem, because that person is unwilling to do the cultivating work, potentially dooming the relationship.

“For example, they might decide that they need sex every day or that they only want sex once a month and they’re not willing to consider middle ground," she says. "Sexual frequency in monogamous relationships is something you negotiate (with consent) and if one person makes demands or withdraws from sex, it’s likely to lead to an unresolvable difference."

2. When you can’t agree about monogamy.

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Is polygamy or consensual non-monogamy something you would consider if your partner wanted to explore it? Or is that a deal-breaker? If you and your partner have opposing views on this topic, chances are they are going to be irreconcilable, says Dr. Jess.

"Monogamy is our most common default setting in terms of relationship expectations, but it simply doesn’t work for everyone,” she says, adding, “You cannot convince someone to do something they don’t want to do — whether that’s monogamy or consensual non-monogamy. If you and your partner disagree on what type of relationship arrangement you want, it’s likely you’re not compatible.”

3When one partner shames the other for their desires.

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It's normal to have sexual preferences and desires to explore. However, to be able to do that with your partner, you have to feel safe. If your partner shames or dismisses your desires, then you are likely incompatible. Dr. Jess gives the example of one partner enjoying porn. As she explains, “You don’t have to feel the same way about porn in order to be compatible, but you do need to respect your partner’s feelings. Any attempt to forbid behavior or control what your partner desires is likely a sign that you’re not compatible.”

The same goes for sexual fantasies, chances are you won't have the same exact one, but you can still be sexually compatible by finding ways to explore them so that both partners can enjoy. For example, Dr. Jess suggests “couples reframe the way they think about fantasies to accept that thinking about an act does not mean that you want to engage in that act in real life," adding that, "With this understanding, you can play with a piece of a fantasy without the pressure to bring it to life.” That’s what she means by cultivating compatibility. You may not initially be on the same page, but you work together to find a mutually satisfying middle ground.

If you really do care about someone, but realize you just don't fit sexually, it can be really hard to accept. But don't give up right away! There is hope that you can find a way to make it work, and maybe even learn some new things about your sexual self in the process. That being said, never, ever feel like you have to participate in something that you are uncomfortable with or that you don't fully consent to, because the biggest sign of all that you're not sexually compatible with someone is if they would ever expect that from you.

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