Terrestrial planets Venus and Earth have similar sizes, masses, and bulk compositions, but only Earth developed planetary-scale plate tectonics. Plate tectonics generates weatherable fresh rocks and transfers surface carbon back to Earth’s interior, which provides a long-term climate feedback, serving as a thermostat to keep Earth a habitable planet. Yet Venus shares a few common features with early Earth, such as stagnant-lid tectonics and the possible early development of a liquid ocean. Given all these similarities with early Earth, why would Venus fail to develop global-scale plate tectonics? In this study, we explore solutions to this problem by examining Venus’ slab densities under hypothesized subduction-zone conditions. Our petrologic simulations show that eclogite facies may be reached at greater depths on Venus than on Earth, and Venus’ slab densities are consistently lower than Earth’s. We suggest that the lack of sufficient density contrast between the high-pressure metamorphosed slab and mantle rocks may have impeded self-sustaining subduction. Although plume-induced crustal downwelling exists on Venus, the dipping of Venus’ crustal rocks to mantle depth fails to transition into subduction tectonics. As a consequence, the supply of fresh silicate rocks to the surface has been limited. This missing carbon sink eventually diverged the evolution of Venus’ surface environment from that of Earth.