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Bad Sex Vs. Wrong Partner: Which Can You Fix?

By Billyne Francois
Posted On Jan 12, 2018
Bad Sex Vs. Wrong Partner: Which Can You Fix?

We have this perception that sex isn’t an important factor in relationships, but let’s be honest that isn’t true. According to Dr. Kristen Mark PhD, MPH, an Associate Professor and Director of the Sexual Health Promotion Lab at the University of Kentucky, “Sex is integral to romantic relationships. We consistently see that people who are in sexually satisfying relationships are more relationally satisfied. Those in sexually satisfying relationships tend to be happier overall, too.”

It is safe to assume that intimacy plays a big part in every meaningful relationship you had, have, or will ever have. Intimacy doesn’t always mean physical attention, but it is important.

According to a Psychology Today article written by Dr. Mark, “sexual compatibility is defined as the extent to which a couple perceives they share sexual beliefs, preferences, desires, and needs with their partner.” Being sexually compatible with your partner is essential. Now the question that seems to come up all the time is, is it bad sex or the wrong partner? Let’s define the two before continuing: bad sex is mainly physical, it’s when everything about the experience and encounter is wrong and un-pleasurable, (they basically got their sex education/tips from the back of a cereal box). The wrong partner deals with emotion, maybe they’re doing everything right but your body isn’t reacting.

According to an article written by Dr. Samantha Rodman, a clinical psychologist, here are 7 Signs You May Be Sexually Incompatible with Your Partner:

  1. Your Partner Finds Sex “Silly” or “Unimportant”
  2. Your Partner’s Preferences Are Distasteful to You
  3. You and Your Partner Feel Awkward Around Sex Scenes on TV
  4. You Find Your Partner’s Body to Be a Turnoff
  5. You Make Excuses to Stay Up Late After Your Partner Goes to Bed
  6. You Have Not Told Your Partner What a Turnoff You Find Certain Things They Do in Bed
  7. You Find Yourself Fantasizing About Past Sexual Relationships Where Your Partner Just “Got” You

These signs are important to identify. However, just because you and your partner aren’t sexually compatible doesn’t mean your relationship is over. You can work on building a better sexual conversation so you and your partner can build a better sexual connection.

Q&A with Dr. Mark

We talked to Dr. Mark and decided to put her in the hot seat: 

New You: How does sexual incompatibility begin to affect the relationships?

Dr. Kristen Mark: If couples don’t talk about their perceived sexual incompatibility, it can negatively impact their sexual and relationship satisfaction.

NY: From your professional experience, do relationships usually end if the sex is incompatible?

DKM: This depends. If the sexual part of the relationship is not satisfying, this can negatively impact the relationship. However, our research has found that if couples communicate with one another about their sex life (or lack thereof), they can retain their relationship satisfaction despite low sexual satisfaction.

NY: Are there any steps to becoming more compatible with your partner? If so what are they?

DKM: Yes. First, talk about it with your partner! Second, determine where the incompatibilities lie. This will require both of you identifying what your sexual needs are. Third, come up with a game plan with your partner to meet one another in the middle.

Dr. Mark expresses that the correct way to deal with sexual incompatibility is open discussion and conversation. We’ve all heard the cliché, “Communication is key.” Having an open discussion with your partner about your turn-ons, turn-offs, and things that need to change is important because those issues will stay with your relationship, no matter if they’re physical or emotional. Regardless of where the issues lie, holding an open discussion can help determine where the relationship will go.