What is sexual compatibility if libido is not a problem?
May 5, 2015 6:40 PM   Subscribe

Trying to get over a recent Ex who I thought was perfect except for sexual compatibility. I'm trying to unpack this concept and get advice on whether different sexual styles (libido is not a problem) is a dealbreaker. There's no chance of getting him back, but it might help me move on.

I have two major exes. The most recent (Ex A) and the one I saw right before him (Ex B). The two relationships were extremely different and overlapped in that, while my relationship with Ex B was fading, I met Ex A and we fell in love pretty intensely.

Sorry, but this will get explicit if only because I'm trying to describe a mismatch I have no words for. It seems like most posts about sexual compatibility is about libido, which isn't a problem here.

Ex B was kind of directionless and intellectually mismatched with me in the sense that i liked novels and he liked sci-fi; we didn't have much in common; and I was always wary of him hanging out with my friends. He also did not communicate or debate with me in a compatible way. But he was so... kinetic to me. I loved his physicality and playfulness, the way he walked, danced, smelled. Most of all, I loved the sex we had. I would use the words "mindblowing" and absolutely "sexually compatible" on him. He felt the same. We could really grow and explore sensuality at the same level. Neither of us are terribly kinky, but just every once in a while, a surprise. As a milder example, he would sometimes just start fingering me before we left for a social event and 15 minutes later, i'm a puddle near the front door. He would hoist me over his shoulders and make me squeal, etc. These might all be normal things in relationships but I never experienced them with Ex A.

Ex A felt like my best friend as soon as we met. The attraction grew with the emotional intimacy. But I met him during a summer abroad while still with Ex B. We slept together, broke up with our then-SOs and basically waltzed into a very happy 3.5 year relationship. We both thought we were it for each other until it unraveled. But from the beginning, I remember trying to replicate what I had with Ex B. Things were kinkier at first but we would try things once, I would realize Ex A was only doing it for me, and I would stop trying. When I had unprotected sex for the first time with Ex A, I cried because I felt like it should have been with Ex B. A year after breaking up with Ex B, we saw each other one last time and had sex--it felt like I was losing my mind with desire. I told Ex A and we worked through it (it really had nothing to do with the break up). But with Ex A... while the sex was great at first due to the emotional element... it never took off the ground for me. He is objectively good/fine...but I would cry every few months for the next 1.5 years thinking about Ex B and specific moments we had, the way he touched me, and the way he would so tenderly hold me after i orgasmed hard while Ex A just... didn't; how we had shower sex and Ex A was just not interested; how together, Ex B and I could get into anal sex while Ex A couldn't even touch me there with his finger... When Ex A and I had sex, I had to learn how to make myself cum in the sense of helping myself with hands and my own movement... with Ex B, there was a good mix of both. I tried to have conversations with Ex A--teary, difficult ones or guide him in bed... but something as simple as "pinch me harder" would be met with a "No." Now that we are exes, I don't desire ex-sex with him at all--just that feeling of emotional intimacy and a future with someone. But with Ex B, I desire him very specifically.

It boiled down to feeling like Ex A had good sex in a mechanical sense--his libido was great and he didn't have any abnormal hangups...just vanilla I guess. But that Ex B really got to know ME... my body and how I came... Ex B really improved without me even communicating, which maybe made communicating with Ex A harder. I felt like while Ex A appreciated my body in the sense that I'm a girl, I always felt this hollowness to it, like I wanted him to appreciate it MORE.

Has anyone felt this kind of incompatibility before? What is it if someone is perfectly competent in bed but leaves me craving so much more/feeling empty despite being very, very loved? Am I doomed to never find both a best friend and sexually compatible partner?

If you are into Myers-Briggs, the descriptions of sex styles between INFPs (me) and ESTJs (Ex A) are markedly different (expression of love vs. physical expression of closeness/traditional).

Has anyone experienced different sexual styles in this sense and overcome it?

Is sexuality different from sensuality?
posted by minoraltercation to Human Relations (15 answers total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
I think there are multiple elements involved.

* chemical - do they smell right to you, etc.
* emotional - for at least some people good sex needs an emotional component
* libido - similar drives / desire
* kink - similar wants, from vanilla to whatever
* skill

It sounds like you weren't completely compatible with either of the men you describe. You aren't doomed. It's a mistake to look for someone who's exactly like an ex, but you can learn from these experiences what things are important for you in a partner (perhaps sexual adventurousness, similar interests and emotional closeness?) and use those to inform your search.
posted by bunderful at 8:37 PM on May 5, 2015 [3 favorites]

To me it sounds like the difference was that Ex B was enthusiastic about sex, and also a good observer.
posted by feets at 9:09 PM on May 5, 2015 [5 favorites]

I think you articulated this incredibly well. And I can relate. With any kind of great love/lust/connection lost, there's this sense of amazement that somebody called up so much in you, seemingly mannifested it out of nowhere. For Ex B, it was that deep communication, that total awareness of your desire and ability to evoke and play and tease and ultimately satisfy it. I'm also an INFP and can relate to exactly the type of imprint Ex B must have left on you.

What I would suggest is reflecting on the fact that while Ex B was certainly the one to evoke this all in you, these are all sensations/experiences/capacities for desire that are located WITHIN YOU. They are not singularly bound to this one person. You have two especially significant relationships behind you. Both showed you things that are deeply meaningful to you, and yet both were incomplete. I think going forward, you can continue to seek out somebody who is both A and B - that is, somebody you feel truly like a partner with and emotionally bonded, and can evoke that profound sensual communication as well. Don't settle! But also be gentle with yourself and remember that, given how brains work when shown an extraordinarily pleasurable stimulus, of course you are going to fight an inner impulse to say that these future good feelings must come from Ex B specifically.

It's like you've become really fluent in a language, even many dialects of the same language, and now you have to figure out who to spend your time speaking with. And Ex A could just never speak the language with you. And that's a hard thing to live with, and I understand why you two parted ways. Again, it's okay if your brain is telling you "but only Ex B knows the words, come on come on" because that's it's natural inclination. That's fine. But I think by the way you phrased these questions, you already know that you're not doomed, that you are full of good possibilities ahead. I'm not sure exactly what next steps you want to take, with dating or taking time or focusing on friends or getting really into masturbation (well I'm always pro-masturbation) but regardless, keep moving forward and never settle for shutting parts of yourself off! Good luck :)
posted by elephantsvanish at 10:05 PM on May 5, 2015 [10 favorites]

This all sounds pretty normal in the sense that each of us is a complex package of different attributes, so relationships are almost always a good news/not-so-good news situation. It would be great to find partners who meet all our desires in just the right way, and some people do in fact claim to find this, but the reality for most of us is more nuanced.

Even the best partners tend to fulfil some of our needs & wants really well, some needs partially and others not at all. As well as that, people bring things to the relationship that weren't on our list of desirable attributes, and which may or may not be desirable once we experience them. It's an unpredictable adventure and sometimes you don't know what you want until you find it.

In terms of dealing with differing sexual styles, I may have just been very fortunate, but I have always found enough to like in each of my partners to make it work for me. I've had incredible lovers who were not great partners and great partners who were not the most exciting lovers, but as long as there is a reasonable baseline of attraction I find that things can develop in the bedroom over time. Great lovers who are not great partners is a harder one to make work I think, but some people seem to manage it; for a while at least. My most intense sexual connection was with a woman whom I was with for nearly 5 years and, whilst there was more to it than impossibly great sex, we would not have stayed together as long had the sex been ordinary. For what it's worth, your Ex A sounds a little ungenerous or prudish or something; definitely not GGG, which I think is important.

Hopefully you will find a partner who makes you weak in the knees and is highly compatible with you emotionally and intellectually. You may need to compromise to a degree in some of what you're looking for, but your goal is neither unreasonable nor unachievable, so don't think that you will need to settle for something sub par in any of those areas. There is every chance that you will find a combination that will work really well for you.
posted by mewsic at 11:02 PM on May 5, 2015 [6 favorites]

Is sexuality different from sensuality?

There is no single answer to this question. Some people just like to fuck; other people prefer to throw a parade first; most people fall across a spectrum in the middle. My personal experience is that there's no way to guess where someone sits on that spectrum until you've driven around the block with them several times.

What is it if someone is perfectly competent in bed but leaves me craving so much more/feeling empty despite being very, very loved?

It's sexual incompatibility, if you want to be generous. If you don't, I would characterise that ex as a shallow lover.

Am I doomed to never find both a best friend and sexually compatible partner?

No. You're comparing one apple to one orange. There is an entire fruit aisle.
posted by DarlingBri at 11:09 PM on May 5, 2015 [13 favorites]

Honestly, it just sounds like you were never as physically attracted to Ex A as you were to Ex B. In the future, you should pay more attention to your physical connection to someone in the early stages of dating; it sounds like you need someone who you are deeply physically attracted from the very beginning, instead of someone who grows on you slowly. So I think you need to keep looking, because it's totally possible to find someone who fulfills you both sexually and emotionally. And maybe try and lay off telling yourself really dramatic stories about how you are probably doomed to live without true love, because that's just making yourself unhappy to no purpose.
posted by colfax at 2:18 AM on May 6, 2015 [4 favorites]

Yes I've experienced this. If someone is completely competent in bed but doesn't hit the right essential notes for you it's just a bad match, nobody's fault. And no, you're not doomed. Keep looking. What happens as you age and have more partners is you get more selective, so rejecting more people for not meeting a sexual or personality standard, but simultaneously more aware of what you want and more confident, so able to find and engage with new potential matches faster.
posted by ead at 2:54 AM on May 6, 2015 [1 favorite]

You've described this so well and I know exactly what you mean. I was with someone who loved me like mad and gave me literally overwhelmingly good orgasms but there was something that was missing- it's like a sort of special kind of attention to YOU and what you need/want that unfortunately seems to only happen organically- if you need to ask for it it's never going to feel right.

I think you will find someone who can be both things for you- there are lots of people out there. Maybe if you tried doing a bit of casual dating and sleeping with a handful of different people you'd get a different perspective- future relationships are not going to boil down to a choice between two things. There will be men who hit the things for you that both A and B did, blending bits of both, and there will be men who will bring something completely different that you can't even imagine yet. Be open! Explore!
posted by mymbleth at 5:33 AM on May 6, 2015 [1 favorite]

I think some guys are more direct and simple in the bedroom, and/or selfish. They're kind of the stereotypical "sex, sex is good" grunt -and-done types. I don't know if I'm making sense here. They don't go in much depth besides "lady=good lay." The end. Guy A sounds like this.

Some guys treat sex like a puzzle, and want to unlock the best combo. These guys tend to be ovethinky types. You say guy B was more "intellectual" so that's my guess. They're more curious about how individual ladies work. This can be motivated by more true love, or just a sort of scientific curiosity/desire to be the most efficient.

Either type is not necessarily more/less in love with you although not responding to feedback is a pretty bad sign.
posted by quincunx at 6:46 AM on May 6, 2015

I once dated a guy I still think the world of, but we could not make it work sexually, and that caused other problems in our relationship. In my case, he hadn't had a lot of sexual partners, having dated his high school sweetie well into grad school. So it was no wonder, then, that he hadn't learned a lot of things.

He was definitely more crass about sex than I am, and he also didn't seem to appreciate just how much foreplay I wanted. By the time he started making more of an effort, I'd already shut down, and I began to dread him bringing up our sex life.

I felt really guilty, like I was being so petty for wanting to leave the relationship just because the sex wasn't any good. Like, I knew I deserved to be fulfilled sexually as well as emotionally, but it was still so hard for me to give myself permission. I like to think it'd be easier now. The way I see it, if you're monogamous, you only get one partner. You get to be picky, and it doesn't matter whether or not the things you like and don't like "aren't rational." You just get one.
posted by mermaidcafe at 7:21 AM on May 6, 2015

I think we often respond sexually to things that do not satisfy our higher needs. I also think it is not likely to have a good long term relationship with someone who satisfies us sexually in that way.
posted by Ironmouth at 10:16 AM on May 6, 2015 [1 favorite]

"...Something as simple as "pinch me harder" would be met with a "No.""

For what it's worth, in my opinion this goes beyond incompatibility, into either stupidity or selfishness, neither good.

"You have two especially significant relationships behind you. Both showed you things that are deeply meaningful to you, and yet both were incomplete. "

Boom. Exactly. Girl, you have a whopping sample size of TWO. In no way are you doomed.
posted by celtalitha at 1:44 PM on May 6, 2015 [2 favorites]

I think you need to up your standards for good sex. Not having crazy hangups and having a good libido - I mean, that's a pretty low bar. That's got to describe the majority of people in the world.

A great sex partner isn't just a person who's willing and able to have sex! You know exactly what makes a great sex partner, because you described it eloquently as personified by Ex B. Good communication. Passion. Enthusiasm (can't emphasize enthusiasm enough).

Dan Savage describes it as being "GGG" = good, giving, and game (let's leave aside all the other facets one might like or dislike about Savage for a moment). It means trying to be Good in bed, Giving equal time and pleasure to your partner, and Game for anything within reason. Ex B sounds like he was all of the above. Ex A... I don't think he was any of those things.

I'm not sure what you're trying to overcome - I think you might be looking at this problem the wrong way. There is no reason to try to fight your desires here.
posted by treehorn+bunny at 4:41 PM on May 6, 2015 [1 favorite]

Hi. I'm just here to say I empathise and I sympathise. I've just come out of a ten-month casual relationship with a woman for whom I felt the most extraordinary sexual desire I've ever known (knees shaking and quivering, difficulty riding a bike home because *ahem* etc.). We never got anywhere near clicking emotionally though, which has left me feeling a bit forlorn about the future too.

Like you, my sample size is not exactly approaching statistical significance, and I'd even go so far as to say you're doing much better than me at the moment because I've never really felt the connection you had with A with anyone. In fact, now that I think of it I rather envy you. You've had the brain-click and you've had the sex-click: you know exactly what you're looking for, which is fantastic. Don't despair!
posted by fishingforthewhale at 2:31 AM on May 7, 2015

I'm trying to unpack this concept and get advice on whether different sexual styles (libido is not a problem) is a dealbreaker.
A difference in sexual styles might be a dealbreaker, for example if you both craved to be submissive and controlled and neither found any satisfaction in being dominant sexually or if one of you had some kind of fetish that the other found unbearable. But many times, couples will adjust to each other and find lots of common ground even if they don't start out precisely matched because they observe each other's reactions and communicate and work together. All of which makes
I tried to have conversations with Ex A--teary, difficult ones or guide him in bed... but something as simple as "pinch me harder" would be met with a "No."
an insurmountable problem. Someone who is unwilling to work with you to figure out how to give you what you want is incompatible. I'd say further that they are not "perfectly competent in bed." I don't think having someone who just naturally gets you and is able to read your body language and push the right buttons from the first moment is something you can expect to find everywhere, but someone who is willing to listen and experiment and learn should be the bare minimum that you demand.
posted by Lame_username at 7:43 AM on May 7, 2015 [1 favorite]

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