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How Sexually Compatible Are You and Your Partner?

Photo of Dr Katherine Hertlein
Reviewed by Dr Katherine Hertlein,
created by Blueheart
created by Josh Green
created by Sophie Browness
Date published:
Last updated:
Photo of Dr Katherine Hertlein
Reviewed by Dr Laura Vowels,
created by Blueheart
created by Josh Green
created by Sophie Browness
Date published:
Last updated:


  • Are you and your partner a match when it comes to sexual compatibility?
  • Do you share the same wants and needs in your sex life?
  • Are you able to talk openly and honestly about your desires?
  • Are you willing to work together to ensure each other’s preferences are met?

This isn’t a sexual intimacy quiz that will give you the 'yes' or 'no' of sexual compatibility. It’s way more complicated than that. Compatibility is far more than just physical attraction or seeing if your levels of desire match. Sex is too individual to boil down to such a simple metric like sexual attraction. The key to a successful long-term relationship is communicating honestly then weighing up what you can do to improve.

Our aim is to open up dialogue with your partner. It might be awkward initially but it could prove life-changing with a few prompts to help you explore how sexually compatible you are.

Choose neutral ground to initiate the conversation. A long walk or a drive is good, but probably not the bedroom until you’ve agreed that you're comfortable and want to speak in the moment.

Let’s define sex first

Before you jump into the questions, you and your partner need to be on the same page. Sex requires your own definition. What even is sex for you as an individual or a couple? Sex is complicated, ever shifting and personal. Perceptions will be affected by emotional, cognitive and behavorial aspects for you both as well as physicality. It is impossible to fit a catch-all definition for every couple.

Within your relationship, one of you may perceive sex to be all about penetration. For the other it might be a different type of intimacy — oral, anal, with or without climax. Unless you have the conversation and talk it through, how will you know sex means the same thing?

Shared understanding of sex

Understanding how sex is different (or the same) for each of you is super important. Only when you have established your shared classification of what your type of sex is, can you drill down into deeper conversations. That’s when you can explore any sexual fantasies or secret desires after you’ve defined your couple’s view of sexual compatibility.

Without those initial chats, which don’t need to be heavy, around what sex looks like for you both, you’re in danger of stumbling around in the dark –  literally. You think your partner likes all the same moves but maybe it is you who’s always compromising. You might want to ask for more.

Psychology Today states sexual compatibility is “the extent to which a couple perceives they share sexual beliefs, preferences, desires, and needs with their partner” as well as “the extent to which similarities exist between actual turn ons and turn offs for each partner emotionally, cognitively, and behaviorally”(1).

So definition done. Let’s have the talk.

Does your partner ask questions about how you like your sex life?

If so they’re present in the conversation and care about your needs. If you ask your partner this question, it shows them you’re looking for feedback and you are open to taking about their beliefs, desires, needs and preferences, as well as your own. This could be the first step to deciding whether you’re going to be sexually compatible or opening up about any sexual fantasies you might want to explore.

Does your partner communicate after sex?

If you’re comfortable talking about the sex you’ve just had, this is the time to get mutual feedback. You can explain to each other what works and what doesn’t. Maybe open up about what you might like to try and what you’d rather avoid. Sensitively handled, it can help you avoid a mismatch of desires and sexual preferences later. This can help you both feel heard.

Does your partner look after you and care for your needs?

It’s possible that your partner might be afraid to ask about your turn-ons and turn-offs in case they can’t meet them. Or because they’ve never talked openly about sex before. Maybe you haven’t either. Although you can feel into each other’s sexual desires, it’s far better to communicate. Especially when elements like work, stress, health and medication can affect how you feel about sex. Talking about it ensures there’s no ambiguity.

Does your partner care about your future wants and desires?

Same day, same position, same music might grow wearisome after a while for you or them. If you’ve been together for some time you might find yourself wanting different things out of sex as your relationship grows. Do you and your partner check in with each other regularly to see if your desires are still being met? Maybe you feel ok about asking? If so and you’ve met with a positive reaction to sexy suggestions that’s a good sign for your long term sexual compatibility. People change and they want different things so be open to communications.  

Are they open with how they feel towards you?

Have you and your sexual partner discussed how you feel? Are you both able to talk about what a healthy relationship looks like? Say what you want from everyday moments as well as sexual ones. Whether that's PDAs to supporting each other emotionally. Removing assumptions gives clarity and avoids confusion which can get in the way of compatibility. If you’ve decided you’re in a monogamous exclusive relationship, define early on what constitutes as cheating.

Do you and your partner have different sexual preferences?

Because sexuality is so complex and deeply personal, you may find you and your partner prefer different things but that doesn’t mean your relationship is doomed. If you’re both willing to compromise and meet each other’s desires at times without resentment you can still achieve relationship satisfaction

Sexual compatibility v compromise?

A romantic relationship can work on lots of different levels but, for most, sexual compatibility is vital. How much you and your partner want to make it work will depend on how much you’re willing to share. Shared beliefs, like wanting to meet each other’s needs, mutual understanding and acceptance of each other’s preferences can trump the need for personal sexual satisfaction.  

(1). Kristen Mark, P., n.d. Sexual Compatibility: The Importance to Your Satisfaction. Available at: https://www.psychologytoday.com/intl/blog/the-power-pleasure/201203/sexual-compatibility-the-importance-your-satisfaction
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