Does Sexual Incompatibility Mean The End Of A Relationship?

There’s nothing worse than meeting someone you really click with and starting to fall for them, only to realize that you have zero sexual chemistry. While physical intimacy isn’t the most important thing in a relationship, it is pretty major. So can a relationship survive or even thrive despite sexual incompatibility? Here’s what you need to know.

Why it could signal the end

  1. You deserve to have all your needs met. There are no two ways about this. You deserve to have all the things you want. If you’re with someone that can’t or won’t give you that and you see no future in which that changes, why would you stay in that relationship? Compromise is a big part of relationships, but that doesn’t mean leaving anyone feeling unhappy.
  2. Sexual incompatibility encourages poor communication. Sexual incompatibility isn’t just having a one-off bad night, not feeling attractive while you’re on your period, or being stressed at work. It’s more than that. It’s either showing that you have fundamentally different tastes or kinks, or  that you have sexual appetites that might even make the other person feel uncomfortable. If you’re not interested in sex and your partner is into BDSM, without fielding an open relationship, that just isn’t a workable situation. You’ll both be uncomfortable and the relationship will break down.
  3. You don’t prioritize each other. This might not even be a conscious choice you’re making or one that looks like it will improve. If your priority is on your own mental and sexual well-being, and the person you’re with can’t support that, you have to make a decision to prioritize yourself. You don’t owe your partner anything, and while you might want to make things work, you should always come first. If you don’t see a path to improving your compatibility, don’t waste your time.
  4. It shows you can’t talk about sex. If you can’t even talk about sex with your partner in a meaningful way, it shows that you’re not fully comfortable with yourself or the relationship. Sometimes, there are a few easy fixes that your partner can incorporate into their sexual activities that could solve some of the blocking points. The same is probably true for you in reverse, but you have to be willing to have that conversation in order to make improvements. If you’re not emotionally committed or willing to be vulnerable to have the conversation, then that’s the real problem, not just disappointing sex.
  5. Your identities might have changed permanently. This is common in queer relationships, or in the first relationship that people are in. We’re always constantly learning about ourselves and our identities within relationships. That might mean that something that worked at the start of the relationship no longer serves you, or that someone’s gender identity or trigger points surrounding their body changed. That’s natural, and the healthy way to respond to that is to respect what the other person is saying and move on.

Why you might be able to survive sexual incompatibility

  1. You can grow together. If the sexual problems stem from a simple lack of experience, or a lack of time together to know each other’s pleasure points, that’s totally okay. It should be talked about more — most people’s first experience of sex with a new person is unlikely to be the best. It gets better with time, believe me. You can grow in how you communicate, assert your needs, and evolve as a person. Experiment with your partner and you’ll get there in the end!
  2. You can meet each other where you are. I know there can be a huge perception that you have to be great at sex the first time, but that’s just too much expectation. It’s more important that you have an open mind and a good understanding of where your boundaries are. It’s refreshing to see each other in the light of day, not performing for each other but just staying focused on making each other feel good.
  3. It’s a journey. All relationships represent a form of a journey, whether emotionally, sexually, or mentally. You have to be there for each other and know that you’re in it for the long haul. When you respect the relationship, it respects you. When you’re willing to have meaningful, awkward conversations and fart in front of each other while having sex, then you’re ready for true intimacy.
  4. Not everything is about sex. And it shouldn’t be. That’s why it’s not necessarily a dealbreaker if you’re sexually incompatible. It might mean that you open your hearts and minds so that you can experiment with your body in a way that makes sense to you, but that doesn’t work for everyone. However, by taking a hands-off approach, you can spend more time getting to a real point of intimacy emotionally, rather than skipping straight to sex and hoping that fixes things.
  5. There are contextual reasons. Lots of people take medications or have conditions such as depression or anxiety where a lack of sexual drive is a common consequence. It may be that your sexual incompatibility is the product of a short-term condition or a long-term medication. Either way, individual health comes first, but it’s something to be mindful of.
Hannah has a Masters degree in Romantic and Victorian literature in Scotland and spends her spare time writing anything from essays to short fiction about the life and times of the frogs in her local pond! She loves musical theatre, football, anything with potatoes, and remains a firm believer that most of the problems in this world can be solved by dancing around the kitchen to ABBA. You can find her on Instagram at @_hannahvic.