Is Sexual Compatibility a Thing? We Asked a Sex Expert

Have you ever asked yourself the question: are we sexually compatible? If so, same here. Maybe your first experience with a sexual partner in the bedroom wasn't the greatest (that can be normal), and you start to wonder if you're sexually incompatible. Then time passes and the sex still isn't what you're looking for . . . That's when a lot of us say thank you, next. But the truth is, sexual compatibility is more complex than many of us take into account. Emily Morse, PhD — sex expert and host of popular podcast Sex With Emily — acknowledges that sexual compatibility is very real, and agrees that it's "incredibly important". But, what many people don't realize is that it's possible to build sexual compatibility over time. So if you suspect you might be sexual incompatible with someone you otherwise adore, all hope isn't lost yet.

The catch? With "good sex" comes communication. In fact, Dr. Morse laid down all her best tips to improve your sex life and get libidos on the same page, and the most important takeaway is that "you're both willing to listen and stay open to trying new things with each other." But the fact is, not all of us are great at communicating our needs in bed — it can feel awkward or weird. But given that great sex is at stake, we'd say it's worth getting a little uncomfortable.

What Is Sexual Compatibility?

Sexual compatibility is when both parties are satisfied with their sexual experience and have the same shared set of needs. For example, if you both have similar libidos or the same turn-ons, you could be sexually compatible. Sexual compatibility comes naturally with some couples, while with others it can take time to develop.

How Important Is Sexual Compatibility?

As Dr. Morse puts it, "sexual compatibility is incredibly important." However, figuring out your compatibility isn't always easy. "A good place to start is to see if you both have a growth mindset around sex. Specifically, if your partner is interested in talking about your sex life, trying new things, and making sure you're both getting your needs met. If so, you will find it easier to check in about sex and see if you're on the same page. Another factor is tied to sexual satisfaction. Partners who are more sexually satisfied report being more sexually compatible. What's most important is that you're both willing to listen and stay open to trying new things with each other."

How Do You Talk to Your Partner About Improving Your Sex Life?

"Having a conversation about sex with a partner can be daunting," said Dr. Morse. "They decide there's too much risk and too much vulnerability, so they suffer silently through disappointing sex." Instead, Dr. Morse recommends her top advice for conversation around sex, called the three T's of communication: timing, tone, and turf. "If you're trying to talk to your partner about edging (or any sexual activity you're interested in exploring), you'll want to do so in a neutral environment. That means not in the bedroom. Instead, try talking at the kitchen table over coffee or while you're on a walk. You also want to think about the timing — no one wants to have a sex talk when they're HALT (hungry, angry, lonely, or tired). Opt for when you're both feeling relaxed, at ease, and open. And then there's tone. Lead with compassion and curiosity."

Check out Dr. Morse's guide to better communication here!

If a Couple Doesn't Share the Same Libido, Does That Mean They're Sexually Incompatible?

Having a shared libido is an important part of sexual compatibility, but as Dr. Morse puts it, "it doesn't tell the whole story." "The majority of couples experience mismatched libidos, but the relationships that survive find ways to work with their desire and discrepancies rather than against them."