Episode 270 – Sexual Compatibility

sexual compatibility

Do you worry that you aren’t sexually compatible with your spouse? I think truly being sexually incompatible is rare. But in this episode, we talk about those questions you may be having. What makes for sexual compatibility and what we can do to work on ourselves to make our relationships that much better? If you both are willing to look at yourselves and grow, ultimately you can have that honest conversation you need for both of you to be happy.

sexual compatibility

Show Notes:

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Show Summary:

When sexual issues arise in a marriage, it’s fairly normal for couples to question if they are sexually compatible.  If you are having sexual issues, does that mean you’re not?  In a culture where we often don’t have sex before marriage, how are you supposed to know if you are compatible or not? And what happens if you aren’t? These are the questions that we are going to be talking about in today’s episode.


So what does it mean to be sexually compatible? Well, there are a lot of different factors to it.

  1. Sexual attraction: There should be a physical and sexual attraction between you and your partner. You should find each other desirable and be physically aroused by one another.  You should also feel comfortable with their touch and intimacy.
  2. Similar sexual preferences: It’s important to have similar preferences and desires regarding sexual activities, frequency of sexual encounters, and the level of adventurousness or experimentation in the bedroom. Compatibility in sexual desires helps ensure that both partners are satisfied and fulfilled.  Now, this one is a hard one, especially when a lot of times we go into marriage not having previous experience so we don’t exactly know what our preferences are.  But we will come back to this one.
  3. Open and honest communication: Sexual compatibility relies on effective communication about each other’s wants, boundaries, and desires. It involves being able to openly discuss your sexual preferences, concerns, and fantasies with your partner without judgment or discomfort.
  4. Emotional connection: A strong emotional connection and intimacy often enhance sexual compatibility. Feeling emotionally connected, understood, and supported by your partner can create a deeper level of trust and vulnerability, which can lead to more satisfying sexual experiences.
  5. Sexual chemistry: Sexual compatibility is influenced by the chemistry or sexual energy between partners. This refers to the natural spark, passion, and sexual tension that can be felt during intimate moments. It’s the intangible “X-factor” that can make sexual experiences more exciting and pleasurable.
  6. Mutual satisfaction: Sexual compatibility involves both partners experiencing pleasure and satisfaction in their sexual encounters. It’s important that both individuals feel fulfilled and have their needs met within the sexual relationship.
  7. Respect and consent: Mutual respect and consent are essential for sexual compatibility. Both partners should feel comfortable and safe during sexual activities.

So you get married often not knowing your sexual self, your preferences, and what things are going to be like with a partner, and often things are different than you expected.  It can take time to figure out what you want and desire and settle into a pattern that works for you and your partner.  It also takes some exploration, figuring out what you like and don’t like.


I think it’s also worth noting that sexual compatibility can evolve and change over time. It requires ongoing communication, exploration, and a willingness to adapt to each other’s needs and desires. It also requires adapting to new circumstances.  Things may change with new jobs, new routines, adding children (or more children) into your family.  It’s really important to be flexible and work together to adapt and change.


So how do you know if you really aren’t sexually compatible? I think truly being sexually incompatible is rare.  It takes one or both partners being completely disinterested in their partners wants and desires and sexual interests.  Let’s say one partner has some kinks that the other partner can’t get on board with.  That might be a dealbreaker.  Significantly different ideas on how much sex you want to be having might be hard to overcome.  If you have a partner who wants it multiple times a day and another partner who wants it maybe once a month, that’s a pretty big difference that is going to be a challenge to find some middle ground.  If there is a lack of physical chemistry or attraction, that is also difficult.  It’s one thing for attraction to change over time.  With something like that, we can usually work around it.  But if it was never there to begin with, that’s really hard.


I think one of the biggest things that affect sexual compatibility is growth compatibility.  Being open to growth and exploration can help couples maintain and enhance sexual compatibility.  So what is growth compatibility?  Growth compatibility is the degree to which two partners are compatible in terms of their individual personal growth and development and their willingness to grow and change as a couple. Growth compatibility is an important aspect of a healthy and fulfilling relationship because people are constantly growing and changing throughout their lives. When I am counseling with my children about what to look for in a future spouse, growth compatibility is at the top of my list.  If someone isn’t willing to look at themselves to see how they can grow and change and become better, long-term compatibility in many areas is going to be hard.


So here are some signs that indicate growth compatibility:

  1. Shared values: Partners with compatible growth values share similar beliefs, priorities, and goals, which can provide a solid foundation for a relationship that allows for mutual growth and development.
  2. Support for each other’s goals: Partners who are supportive of each other’s goals and aspirations are likely to have a strong growth compatibility. This involves encouraging each other to pursue personal growth, and providing emotional support and encouragement during challenging times.
  3. Willingness to learn: Partners who are open to learning and self-improvement are more likely to have growth compatibility. This involves being receptive to feedback, being willing to challenge their assumptions and beliefs, and being open to new experiences.
  4. Flexibility: Partners who are flexible and adaptable are more likely to have growth compatibility. This involves being able to adapt to changing circumstances and being open to new ideas and ways of thinking.
  5. Emotional intelligence: Partners with high emotional intelligence are more likely to have growth compatibility. This involves being able to communicate effectively, manage emotions, and navigate conflicts in a healthy and constructive manner.

Growth compatibility is important because it can help ensure that both partners continue to evolve and grow together, rather than growing apart over time. By fostering a relationship that supports personal growth and development, both partners can experience increased happiness, fulfillment, and long-term relationship satisfaction, including sexual satisfaction.


This is often the missing piece I see in many men and women that I work with.  They have partners who are unwilling to grow and change over time.  They have partners who aren’t willing to experience discomfort for the sake of growth.  I have heard many famous therapists say that when we are unwilling to be uncomfortable and grow, we will try to control everyone and everything around us to keep us comfortable.  Some do this with anger.  They get angry to keep control because they know their partner will back down if they get angry.  They withdraw or stonewall in order to maintain control because they know their partner will do whatever they can to maintain connection, often shutting down their own desires in order to do so.  Those who don’t know how to control themselves will control others.  But if those partners would learn how to grow and change, they wouldn’t have to maintain control and it would serve the relationship far better.


So what do you do if you realize that you are not sexually compatible? You need to understand that often if you and your partner are willing to grow, things can improve with effort, patience, and communication.  Here are some steps you can take to improve sexual compatibility with your spouse: 

  1. Communicate openly: It’s important to have an open and honest conversation with your spouse about your sexual desires, needs, and boundaries. Discuss what each of you likes and dislikes, and explore ways to make sex more enjoyable for both of you.
  2. Experiment with different techniques: You and your spouse can try experimenting with different sexual techniques, positions, or even sex toys to find what works best for both of you.
  3. Seek professional help: If communication and experimentation are not enough, consider seeking the help of a professional, like myself.  I can provide guidance and support to improve your sexual compatibility.
  4. Work on other aspects of your relationship: Improving other aspects of your relationship, such as emotional connection, communication, and intimacy, can also help improve sexual compatibility.

However, it’s important to recognize that there may be cases where sexual compatibility cannot be improved despite your efforts. If this is the case, it’s important to have an honest conversation with your spouse about your wants and consider other options that may work best for both of you. This isn’t easy.  But ultimately you both want to be happy in all areas of your life so you may have to make some hard decisions.


In really good relationships, our spouse is a really good match for us.  They want the same things that we do.  But at the same time, they aren’t the same as us.  They don’t want all of the same things that we do, and that’s ok.  Expecting your spouse to fulfill all of your wants and desires is unrealistic.  So sometimes you have to look for ways to fulfill those things that you want outside of your partner.  I had a client who really wanted to travel and her husband had no desire.  So she was able to find a friend to travel with.  And while she wished her husband was that person, she accepted that he wasn’t and found that match for herself elsewhere.  And we can do that with a lot of things.  But when you believe in monogamy, if your spouse doesn’t want what you want sexually, that’s a lot harder.  


So if your partner is unwilling to grow, you might not be a match.  You might not be compatible if they are never willing to change and grow in their sexuality.  But if they are, you can usually find a way to be compatible.

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