Sexual Compatibility

Ranat recently wrote a few posts dealing with her struggle to find a sexually compatible partner. And it made me start thinking about how sexual compatibility is so much more than labels like “straight/gay,” “kinky/vanilla,” or even “sub/dom” can cover.

Ranat wrote specifically of her frustration at how easy it is for vanilla people to find compatible sexual partners:

I am profoundly jealous that these men [her vanilla friends] can walk into a room at any given establishment, and have a good chance of meeting someone who is sexually compatible. I am jealous that it is as simple as attraction > desire > pursuit > yea or nay.

I know it’s not actually that simple. I know people with mainstream sexualities have just as many issues finding sexual relationships. But I think about how many sexually compatible people one of these men has met in his life. Probably hundreds. I’ve met three. And I am so. Terribly. Jealous.

I wonder, sometimes, what I would be doing had I never met my current partner, or were we to suddenly break up. How would I go about meeting someone? What would my qualifications be — what would go to the top of the list? Would it be “must be a male dom who likes women?” Or would it be “must be vegan,” or “must have politics that are at least somewhat similar to my own,” or “must not be a sexist jerk”? What would I be willing to compromise on?

Now, granted, I have some advantages — being at least somewhat sexually dominant is a trait that has been taught to a *lot* of men in our culture, so finding this quality would be a lot easier than it would be for a dom woman, like Ranat, to find a submissive man. That is: even if I couldn’t find a guy who’s interested in torturing me, collaring me, or forcing me to lick his boots, I could probably find one who’s totally okay with “rough sex,” pushing me down, and taking control. I could get at least some of my needs filled.

And then I wonder — just how much more compatible would a random dom or switch man be for me, even just speaking in terms of sexual compatibility? What if random “vanilla” guy A is not interested in whips and chains, but completely overlaps with my desires when it comes to favorite positions for fucking and has a really passionate, intense energy; and random “kinky” guy B loves to do all manner of painful things to me but is a terrible kisser and only likes to fuck in one weird position that does nothing for me? What if guy A wants to have sex 3-4 times a week and guy B wants to have sex once a week at most? What if guy B fits my criteria as a male dom who likes women, but his kinks are all completely different from mine — say he only likes daddy-daughter or “punishment” scenes with lots of roleplaying, which I really can’t get into. Does that make him any more sexually compatible than the man who isn’t interested in any kind of kink? And again, once we’re out of the bedroom (or dungeon…whatever), what are the chances that random kinky guy is going to be someone I can actually have a conversation with, as opposed to the vanilla guy that I’ve met because we have shared interests beyond sex? Yes, maybe it’s not that easy to meet someone who’s into BDSM at an anarchist convergence or a vegan potluck (though, actually…that is where my partner and I met). But it’s probably even harder to walk into a play party and meet someone in the mainstream BDSM scene who shares my gender politics, or who’s vegan, or who understands that “anarchy” is not synonymous with “chaos.”

All of this makes me feel extraordinarily lucky to be with someone who connects with me on so many levels, who is passionate and cruel and shares my kinks and is pretty much on the same page with me politically. But I think it’s really important to recognize that even though he’s way more compatible with me (sexually and otherwise) than most other men would be, nothing is perfect, and there are definite gaps where we don’t meet. Some of them are kink-specific, like the fact that he’s more interested in forced submission than I am, or that I’d like to have more frequent play sessions that just involved pain and/or bondage. Others are differences that you’d find in vanilla relationships, too — differences in favorite sexual positions, occasional differences in libido, differences in what we each need in order to have a good orgasm.

Sometimes I get really frustrated when my partner and I encounter one of these differences, and I have a sense of despair — does this mean we’re just not sexually compatible? What I need to remember is that true compatibility has more to do with how you work out differences than it does with never having any differences in the first place. I think this is especially important to remember as my partner and I begin to talk again about non-monogamy. There’s a danger of looking only superficially at compatibility as a simple overlap of interests, and thinking, “My partner and I are both vegan and kinky, but this other person he’s dating is vegan, kinky, and straightedge. She must be a better match for him than I am.” Or, “This other person loves anal sex, which I know my partner really likes and which I am not that into most of the time. That means he’s more sexually compatible with her than with me.” This sort of thinking leaves no room for important things like how we communicate, how we take care of each other, how we work through disagreements without getting into horrible fights that drag on for days. In the long run, I think it’s these things that matter the most.

4 comments so far

  1. Z-lot on

    Indeed, once you know yourself it gets harder to find someone alike by default. But that in turn decreases the chance of failure. The more deviant you are, the narrower the choice. But also, the wider the selection of things you want to do, the narrower the choice (if you stay true to yourself and don’t get satisfied with only a few).

    Anyway, communicating, while important, can only bridge so much. While that endless linear compatibility logic is indeed shallow, one thing holds true: it is required up to a certain point which I would label as common ground… and this ground varies from one aspect of life to another. In sex, I’d say this threshold is very high.

  2. devastatingyet on

    The sexual compatibility thing is difficult. At the very least, you need to both enjoy some of the same things – there has to be enough overlap to form the bulk of your sex life. But it’s never complete.

    It is also not true that every non-kinky person is sexually compatible with every other non-kinky person of the appropriate gender and orientation. My non-kinky friends have their own strong sexual interests and disinterests as well (not just about specific acts/positions, but involving general attitudes, energy level, styles of communication, initiative-taking, and so on).

  3. Ranat on

    “sexual compatibility is so much more than labels like “straight/gay,” “kinky/vanilla,” or even “sub/dom” can cover.”

    I’ve had the opportunity to explore a lot about degrees of compatibility and different kinds of compatibility with several partners since the possibility got dropped in my lap. It is all so different in reality than in theory.

    I was also mulling over my definition of compatibility, and I realized that as I wrote that post my definition was essentially, “Able to get wet enough/hard enough/into it enough to physically complete the act of sex without revulsion or complete boredom.” Which is a rather bare bones, crude definition that probably needed some explaining.

  4. spokewench on

    I have found many men with whom I am somewhat compatible, there are many who hit enough of my buttons that I can have a good time with them.

    But few have hit all my really important ones. Of the top of my head I can think of… two? Out of about 2 dozen men who’s bodies I have enjoyed. And neither of those worked out in the end, neither was very long-lasting. It is really goddamned frustrating.

    You can compromise on a lot of things, but don’t compromise on gender politics. It comes up again and again and is irritating as all fuck.

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