You might be attracted to someone at first sight, or even after a few casual conversations, but how might you know that that sexual chemistry when clothed will exist in bed, too? There are a few subtle clues that might hint as to whether or not you'll connect on a physical level, says Dr. Holly Richmond, PhD, Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and AASECT Certified Sex Therapist.
"Big picture and through my somatic psychology lens, I feel like a lot of this comes down to that felt sense we get with other people. Essentially, we are answering the question for ourselves, 'Do I feel comfortable with this person?' If that answer comes back 'yes,' we consciously and subconsciously move on to figuring out if there is sexual chemistry and the potential for sexual compatibility," she says.
When we get that first hit of attraction to someone, this comes much more from our bodies than it does our brains. "It's an array of biochemical markers that are subconsciously activated through somatic channels. So, the first three signs of sexual compatibility are largely subconscious and body-based, while the others are conscious and relational," she explains. (Though, you can increase your sex drive to get in the mood.)
Still, here are a few ways to detect whether or not that spark will make it's way into the bedroom.
You Like What You See
Like what you see? Step one. "The visual element is our initial and millisecond quick response to sexual compatibility. We all have types, meaning a collection of features that turn us on or turn us off. But it's not just about if the person has the qualities we are generally attracted to, like dark hair, green eyes, being stocky or petite; it's equally about body language," she says.
How does they hold themselves, and most importantly, did they make eye contact? When that eye contact exists, it generally means they want more of a connection, particularly where intimacy and eroticism are concerned, she explains.
You Like Their Scent
Liking how someone smells is another sign of sexual compatibility. Why? "Pheromones have so much impact on whether we'll like being with someone naked. There has been significant research on the female olfactory system, and it turns out we have very specific preferences, and that those preferences change throughout the month as our levels of estrogen, progesterone and testosterone fluctuate with our cycle," she says.
If you don't like how someone smells right from the start, you're screwed—or actually, you're probably not. There are a lot of things we can adjust to with our partners, but trying to learn to like their smell isn't one of them.
You Like The Sound Of Their Voice
If you've checked "yes" on how they look and smell, but when they open their mouth it sounds like nails on a chalkboard, sexual compatibility isn't likely. "Generally, men prefer women with higher voices (a signal of more estrogen) and women prefer men with lower voices (more testosterone), though every individual has their own sexual template (what turns them on) with leads to variation in preferences," she says.
You Communicate Well
"If he or she can't talk without constant prodding in the bar, most likely he or she is not going to be a good communicator between the sheets. Good sex is so much about good communication, telling our partners our likes and dislikes—here not there, more of this and less of that," she says.
You Like Their Personality Type
Is he or she more strong and assertive, or more introverted and mysterious? "Some people are more sexually submissive by nature and like it when their partner takes charge. Other people like slow, sensual sex, which may be more aligned with a partner who is sensitive and introspective," she says. These need to match up in order to be sexually compatible.