I was recently asked to give some ideas on how a couple can improve their relationship if their sexual preferences are not compatible. It inspired me to explore what goes into sex compatibility below.

In a nutshell, you are sexually compatible if both your and your partner’s sexual needs are being met. That said, not many people are fully clear on what their needs are and how to communicate them.

Here is a non-exhaustive list of things that people consider important when it comes to sex compatibility:


When talking about being sexually compatible, perhaps most often, people talk about libido mismatch or how often partners want to have sex.

Speed of arousal

How much time it would take for each partner to get excited.

Types of activities/fetishes required to create excitement

Willingness to engage in sexual activities your partner enjoys the most.


  • If you can reach orgasm with oral sex only, it would be hard to be in a relationship with someone who refuses to perform oral.
  • If you have a fetish, you won’t be sexually compatible with someone who judges you for it.
  • If both of you prefer to be dominant (or submissive) in bed, it would be hard not to wish for a partner with a complimentary preference.


Being able to talk about sex, your desires, or concerns with ease.


Some people prefer to have a partner who can talk openly and without shame about their wants, needs, likes, dislikes, boundaries, fantasies, etc.

Experience level

How sexually experienced you and your partners are.


  • If you are a virgin, you might feel less intimidated by someone who is also inexperienced. Or, on the contrary, might prefer to be with someone experienced.
  • If you are quite experienced, you might feel frustrated with someone who is a newb.
  • Some people would prefer a partner who is comfortable in their body, knows what works for them sexually, and can express it.

Attitudes towards sex

Preferred social, moral, relational, religious, or physical views on sex. Being on the same page about trying new things, whether it is a new position, a new toy, exploring kinks or naughty fantasies, watching porn or reading erotica, sex during period, dirty talk, etc.


  • If you don’t want to have sex before marriage, you won’t be a good match for someone who doesn’t want to wait until then.
  • You view sex as a fun and pleasurable activity while your partner believes it should happen for procreation only.
  • If you are open to having sex only within a committed romantic relationship, it’ll be hard to make it work with someone who loves casual sex.
  • You enjoy having sex with multiple partners while your partner is strictly monogamous.
  • You want to use condoms, but your partner refuses.
  • Your partner is bi-sexual, but you consider same-sex sexual engagements a sin.

Physical compatibility

Genital anatomy mismatch.

If your parts don’t fit at all, it can be hard (although not impossible) to have an enjoyable and satisfying sex life.

Performance compatibility

Ability to produce/maintain erection, ability to orgasm.


  • If you need your partner to stay hard for a certain amount of time to reach orgasm, you might decide you are sexually incompatible.
  • If you are set on climaxing together, it might be frustrating not being able to.
  • If you are attached to seeing your partner orgasm with you while they are not able to.


How quickly someone wants to be sexual.


You might lose interest if your partner prefers to wait for three months before having sex.


The preferred way to connect sexually.


  • You want to be pinned up against the wall, with sparks flying and clothes being ripped off while your partner is longing for a slow dance and a sensual massage.
  • You want to be tied up and bossed around while your partner can’t wait to have simple old-fashioned fucking.
  • You want to tell your partner that your heart is melting when you look in their eyes, while they would rather you used dirty talk.

Importance of sex

How important your sex life is to both of you? Is it at the top of your list of priorities or the bottom? It’s a good idea to be clear on that, so there are no surprises down the road.

Note: Some items on this list you might find superficial, or there might be things that are important to you that aren’t included. Use it just as an inspiration to create a list of your own unique sex needs and find a way to communicate them to your lovers.

How come?

Finding yourself in a relationship where you have different sexual preferences is something most people have personal experience with.

So, why would it be the case? Wouldn’t people figure out early on that they are incompatible sexually? How come it takes some people 5-10 years into their marriage to come to this sour conclusion?

Here are some reasons people end up in sexually incompatible relationships:

  • At the beginning of the relationship (that is, if there is chemistry between you), your brain is flooded with powerful chemicals, like dopamine and norepinephrine, responsible for a feeling of euphoria. It means that for the first 3-9 months connecting sexually is easy and pleasurable, and those incompatibilities will not show up until later.
  • Some people prioritize emotional closeness over sexual compatibility. These people will likely focus on making relationships work emotionally, putting physical compatibility concerns on the back burner.
  • Many hope that even though things don’t work in the bedroom now, their sex lives will improve on their own with time.
  • Others feel really insecure talking about sex, worrying their partner would take things personally or judge them. As a result, enduring sex that doesn’t work for them and gradually growing apart.