The first time my partner and I had sex, it was bad - really bad. We fit together all the wrong ways, were clumsy the whole time, and none of our turn-ons were the same. It seemed like everything I did was wrong for him and everything he did was wrong for me.
After investing so much time in the relationship and feeling like we had a special connection, the unsatisfying sex was devastating. We were sexually incompatible.
What I didn’t know then is that tons of couples are sexually incompatible at first, and it’s not quite as hopeless as it feels. In fact, many are able to find common ground or make their sexual differences work together.
Like most good things, it starts with communication. The best way to make sex awful is to never talk about it with your partner. It’s like getting a massage - you need to guide them toward the right spots, tell them to adjust the pressure, etc.
This also means being open about your kinks and exploring new fantasies to find ways to make things sexier. It can mean setting healthy sexual frequency goals - like once per week - to balance your individual libidos. It can even mean scheduling sex. Couples therapy can also help identify where you and your partner have a sexual disconnect.
This is what my partner and I had to do. He was interested in trying to fix our sex life while I wanted to avoid the problem entirely, but we compromised. After a few awkward conversations, we settled on picking a weekend night and trying once a week to improve our sex. This is not the same as sexual pressure, and you should never be pressured into sex you don’t want to have. Rather, we talked about the problem.
Since weekly sex improves relationship satisfaction, we set that as our goal. We chose a night when we’d both be energetic (not a work night) and attentive to each other. We talked before and after about how it felt and the things we wanted to work on, such as light choking, hitting my G-spot, stimulating his sensitive areas, or different positions. Throughout sex, we were communicating what felt good and what didn’t.
Did it feel more like a science experiment than a passionate evening? At first, yes. But within a few weeks, sex became something we laughed about, looked forward to, and even started to enjoy.
Most of the time you and your partner can work out the kinks (pun intended) in your sex life, but if you truly love someone you just can’t enjoy sleeping with, there are other ways to make it work.
There are relationships that thrive on emotional connection and rarely, if ever, have sex. Others work out polyamorous agreements and meet their sexual needs through other people without sacrificing their relationship.
Sexual compatibility isn’t usually automatic; it takes lots of communication and effort. Sometimes it simply can’t be helped, but the only way to know for sure is to try.
By Aliyah Moore.
Aliyah is a therapist with a Ph.D. in Gender & Sexuality Studies and a resident sexpert who helps people embrace their sexuality. She often writes about sexual wellness and relationship educational guides. Find out more about her work, here.