The Perfect Sexual Fit
It was the perfect first date. Clyde Rodgers*, a senior engineering student at Tufts University, took me out for drinks at Kings Dining & Entertainment in Back Bay. We laughed and teased each other all night over a competition of air hockey and eight-ball. Everything was going well, so I took him home. It wasn’t until we were in bed that I realized a new problem I never had before: he was sexually incompatible with me.
Dr. Kristen Mark Ph.D. said sexual compatibility is important in order to reach sexual satisfaction. Research shows that perceived compatibility is a major predictor of sexual and relationship satisfaction, as one increases (or decreases) the other usually follows.
Unfortunately, the night left me with low sexual satisfaction.
Rodgers and I started kissing, and then I wanted more, but he just kept kissing me. Rodgers likes a slower, longer buildup to sex. He believes it amplifies the experience as tension rises.
“For me personally, I kind of finish quickly so it helps me last longer,” Rodgers says. “I also feel that it can just make it more intense and explosive when it finally builds up to full on intercourse.”
I felt like I was waiting forever. Eventually, the frustration grew and I stopped returning the kisses. I told him the truth—that this was not how I enjoyed sex—and we did finally move on. But then the sex was too slow for me. I don’t mind starting slow, but I wanted to pick up the pace. When I grabbed his waist to thrust even deeper and harder, he abruptly came then apologized.
I couldn’t help but be shocked and disheartened by the whole situation. After an uncomfortable, honest discussion, I told Rodgers that although I did like him, we were just too sexually incompatible and that I didn’t think we should continue seeing each other.
Like me, sex is usually a good experience for Rodgers, especially if the personalities are compatible too. But this was a first for both of us and it was a jarring moment.
“Before [the sex] it had all seemed to be going well,” Rodgers says. “That was just kind of [a] left turn out of nowhere and just kind of changed the whole dynamic between us.”
Steven Myer*, a senior behavioral neuroscience major at Northeastern University, had a similar experience. His partner wanted a slow and “non-energetic” event, as he describes. Myer enjoys a lot of energy in bed. He says there’s an ebb and flow to sex. However, he tends to have a hard finish.
“I guess it’s all part of the performance,” Myers says. “When you're kind of in that space, once you kind of come out of it, you have the whole energy expended and you're just like exhausted. It’s a much more satisfying feel.”
For sexual compatibility, it’s important for Myers to have a partner who can read his energy, adjust to his pace, and prepare for that mindset in bed.
“You shouldn't ever go about it like, ‘Let’s just have a kind of boring fuck’,” Myers says. “You always have to put some effort into it. So I feel like it’s good to be in a mindset where you want to prepare for it.”
MJ Smith, junior visual media arts major, falls right in the middle when it comes to sexual intensity.
“Sometimes I'm content and all I want is very soft and smooth, easy sex, and I don't want anything strenuous,” she says. “But other times I'm like ‘Okay. I’d really like if you could handcuff me to the bedpost, and tickle me with feathers, and move up in butt plug sizes.’”
According to the ABC News “Primetime Live” survey, 55 percent of Americans are sexually traditional, while 42 percent are sexually adventurous. Smith prefers being dominated because it makes her feel wanted, desired, and the center of attention.
“The less I feel like they can control themselves, kind of the hotter it is for me,” Smith says. “If they're so attracted to me and so horny that they're like losing their mind and thrusting as hard as they can and as fast as they can, [that] makes me feel really good.”
While Rodgers, Myer, and Smith have different sexual compatibilities, they all agreed that sexual compatibility is not a dealbreaker. But, Abby Cameron, junior visual media arts major, has a different answer.
“Sexual compatibility with a purely sexual partner is really, really important to me,” she says. “But with someone I’m romantically involved with, it’s more important to me to be emotionally compatible than for them to meet me sexually all the time.”
Cameron once kicked out a Northeastern student at 3:00 am in the middle of a blizzard because he didn’t want to go down on her. But, Cameron is now in a relationship with a man who doesn’t like giving oral sex at all.
“It’s weird coming to a situation where I really like oral sex, both giving and receiving, and he's kind of like, ‘I don't really need it and I don't really like to give it.’”
Hard, fast, pounding, and anal sex are what Cameron’s boyfriend likes, interests that Cameron is not physically capable of doing. It wasn’t until they built a strong emotional bond, where they learned to understand and value each other’s needs, that they started to work on the issue.
“It’s just about making sacrifices, and knowing that relationally, and emotionally is more important to us than our sexual needs,” she says.
Rodgers, Myer, Smith, and Cameron had varying degrees of how different and important sexual compatibility is to them. This is because compatibility is all about how one perceives it in someone. I didn’t see Rodgers as my perfect sexual fit, but I know someday I’ll see it with someone else.
*Names have been changed to keep interviewees’ confidentiality.