Sexual incompatibility: fish or cut bait?

If I had a penny for every time I heard another one of my single friends complain about the shortage of decent single guys, I’d be sipping mojitos full-time in Bora Bora.

My friend Sarah finally met Brad after years of bad coffee dates with vacuous self-absorbed men. Brad was perfect in every way – except one. Sarah did not find Brad to be sexually compatible.

As a 38 year old urban professional wanting to settle down, have a kid or two and live happily ever after, Sarah was agonizing over whether to:

    Fish. Sure, Brad may be a bit dull under the covers, but he’s got a solid job, holds the door open for her and gets along with her mother. That’s more than most women will ever enjoy.

    Cut bait. A “better Brad” may come along. But if not, will she squander her best chance at happiness? Will she end up an old maid living with eighteen cats?

Fish or cut bait? Three questions I’d ask:

Is bad sex a deal breaker?

Some women are perfectly content cuddling in bed watching re-runs of Lost as a reasonable sex substitute. Other women are sticking pins in their eyeballs in a permanently psychotic state of sexual deprivation. One has to honestly assess the importance of sex relative to other relationship criteria.

Could there be some sort of workaround?

If your partner isn’t fulfilling all of your needs, is it ok to call for back-up, or find another creative solution?  In an old episode of HBO’s Six Feet Under, the middle-aged Margaret Chenowith described the “rules” in her open marriage: “You can’t fuck my friends, I can’t fuck yours. No fucking of mutual friends. Never in Hawaii. Never in a hotel that costs more than $300 a night…”

Is this part of a bigger communication problem?

Sometimes sexual compatibility takes work. Sex with someone new is like being a tourist in a foreign land. Sometimes you have to find a common language to discover those hidden gems.

It’s tough to broach delicate topics that may hurt our partners (“Brad, I’ve been faking orgasms these past three months and there is something about this we need to discuss….”) but strong partners can communicate about sex. And, the ability to communicate about sex builds stronger partnerships.

If we can’t talk and find a potential solution to ho hum sex, what other buried landmines are likely to cause relationship carnage down the road?


Next: Polyamory: Where do people find the time?