What To Do If You And Your Partner Don't Have Sexual Chemistry, According To Experts

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If you’re wild about your partner in every other way, having no sexual chemistry in a relationship can be a major letdown. It may feel as if your sex life is doomed, but it doesn’t have to be. A great sex life is something you can work toward, no matter where you started off.

"Having a great sex life and off-the-charts sexual chemistry really means that both you and your partner have compatible needs for sexual frequency, sexual style, that your anatomy is compatible, and for many people, having some degree of emotional connection also factors in to sexual chemistry," Stephanie Wijkstrom, MS, LPC, NCC, certified counselor and founder of Counseling and Wellness Center of Pittsburgh, tells Bustle. "The first steps to having a great sex life don’t actually start in the bedroom, at least not when sex is coupled with a long-term relationship."

Many couples start off with sexual chemistry and then lose it as time goes on, Wijkstrom says. Just as these couples can get the spark back if they work on it, couples that didn't feel that much of a spark to begin with can attain one if they desire. Here are some things to do if you don't feel as strong a sexual connection with your partner as you'd like, according to experts.


Ask Your Partner What They Think Of Your Sex Life

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Asking this question may give you insight into why your sexual chemistry seems to be lacking. “You could be surprised to learn that they too have been struggling with it, or perhaps they have a history or sexual aversion, sexual shame, or a sexual arousal disorder that prevents them from enjoying their full sexual potential,” Wijkstrom says.

It could simply be a question of getting comfortable discussing your sex life, she adds. “You also might ask if they talked about sex in their family growing up or did they receive a lot of sexually shaming information about how taboo and bad it is to be sexually intimate,” she says. “You will likely be able to tell if they suffer from sexual shame, as the conversation about sex will be palpably difficult for them with stammering, blushing, and bouts of silence.”


Ask About Their Needs

Once you better understand where your partner is coming from, you can then ask them what might improve your sex life for them. This takes the pressure off them and reduces the chances that they’ll get defensive because you’re not only making it about you. Wijkstrom advises asking what turns them on and what can make them more sexually comfortable. Chances are, making the sex better for them will make it better for you, too.


Acknowledge The Positive

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Receiving feedback is never easy, especially in the bedroom. One way to cushion any comments that may come off critical is to start off by talking about what's going right. Even if there are areas where your sex life is lacking, appreciating where it's actually succeeding will also help you enjoy it more.

"Pick a time when they are not busy or distracted and they have your full attention," therapist and social worker Alisha Powell, Ph.D., LCSW, tells Bustle. "Open up the conversation using 'I' statements and show appreciation for what your partner does well."


State Your Needs

Once you’ve covered your partner’s needs and let them know what you appreciate about them, you can launch into your own thoughts and feelings about your sex life. “Use constructive language that presents opportunities for understanding,” Wijkstrom says. “If your partner takes that personally or becomes defensive, there might be something to further explore with a therapist."


Decide If It’s A Dealbreaker

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If you’ve tried these things and you’re still not having the best sex of your life (or anything close), you need to decide how good the sex needs to be for you to stay in the relationship.

“There are many components to a healthy relationship — sexual intimacy is just one of them,” Wijkstrom says. “If you are an extremely sexual person and can't imagine life with less than five steamy sex sessions in a week, a relationship with poor sexual chemistry might not be a good fit for you. If you enjoy sex but are happy with once a week or a few times per month, maybe it will be satisfying to maintain a long-term relationship with poor sexual chemistry as long as you have a conversation with your partner about what is happening between the two of you.”

Ultimately, there's no right or wrong decision — if you want to work on your sex life, that's totally doable. If you accept not having over-the-top chemistry, that can work. And if you want to end the relationship, lack of sexual chemistry is a valid reason to do so. Either way, asking yourself what your own preferences are and talking to your partner can bring you closer to an answer.