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What to Do When the Sex Sucks in Your Relationship

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Originally published on PhiladelphiaMFT.com

“We’re in love but the sex sucks.”

If you identify with this statement, you are nowhere near alone. Sexual incompability is an issue that many partners face. People enter relationships with their individual set of sexual wants and needs. Sometimes partner’s needs match, but what happens when this isn’t the case? Ideally it would be nice to say that love conquers all in this situation, but for many this is far from true. Sex is an important factor in a relationship. If partners aren’t enjoying sex with each other, the relationship often becomes fractured.

There is a wealth of material that focuses on partner’s differences in sex drive and how to bridge that gap, but what about the actual act? What happens when you and your partner differ in terms of the style sex you prefer? You enjoy oral sex and your partner won’t participate. Your partner has a bondage fetish and you refuse to explore it. These types of differences are common and can be difficult to deal with. In order to make any type of progress, the couple must learn to compromise and communicate.

Communication is essential.

Often times couples neglect to do this execute this basic step. Honesty is important when it comes to discussing sex with your partner. Be clear about what you want, what you enjoy, and what is a deal breaker. You may be surprised about some of the things you learn about your partner. Be mindful that these conversations may bring up topics that can be uncomfortable and potentially ego bruising. Focus on the positive instead of defaulting to the negative. Tell your partner what you enjoy doing with them before you tell them everything you dislike. “I don’t think you realize how much I love it when you kiss my neck, could you do it more often?” will produce a better reaction than, “you suck at foreplay.”

If fear of judgment is stopping you or your partner from divulging some of your sex fantasies, I would encourage you both to visit Mojo Upgrade. Mojo Upgrade is an interactive sex questionnaire that is taken separately by each person. Mojo Upgrade shows each person a list of sexual fantasies and allows them to rate their interest levels. If both partners indicate a positive interest then the fantasy will be shared; if negative, the results remain private. This is a great way to get the conversation rolling about what type of sex you’d each like to be having.

Compromise!

It is impossible to find someone who identically matches you sexually, which is why compromise is so important. Once you and your partner have a good grasp on what it is you want sexually, the next phase involves assessment: What do you each need? Is there anything that either of you feel ambivalent about? What are your limits?

Sacrifices have to be made. You both need to be willing to please each other, and sometimes that means stepping into the outskirts of your respective comfort zones. Don’t do anything that will leave you scarred but be willing to open up a little more to satisfy your partner. Also remember that compromise looks different for everyone. Compromise can be as simple as incorporating a lesser variation of your partner’s desire frequently or fully indulging their wants occasionally. Either way works.

Sexual incompatibility cannot be ignored. When sex is great it masks relational issues and when it’s bad it amplifies them. Learning to communicate and compromise is essential in working through your sexual differences. Remember that you’re not striving to be an exact replica of your partner, just complimentary.

Malyka Cardwell is a Couple and Family Therapist based in the Philadelphia. Malyka graduated with a BS in Psychology and a minor in English from Old Dominion University. She then went on to study at Thomas Jefferson University’s Couple and Family Therapy program with a specialization in Sex Therapy. To contact her for professional help email her here: MCardwell@PhiladelphiaMFT.com.

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