Better Relationships ♯3. ask for what you want

3. Ask for what you wantIf you expect your partner to know what you want without you expressing it, then you are looking for a parent, not a partner.  As very young children we rely on our parents intuitively fulfilling our needs. It’s wonderful to be fed, nurtured and loved for just being. It is unconditional love and our survival depends on it throughout the early, pre-verbal years and beyond.  We need our parents to regulate our emotions, to comfort us when frightened and to put us to bed when tired.  One of the biggest tasks of childhood is gradually learning to self-regulate; to manage our own feelings, to delay gratification, to handle difficult situations, to ask for what we need and to be able to handle ourselves when our needs are not met.

Adult love is not unconditional, our partners are not our parents and it’s not their job to read our minds or to just know what we want. Just as its not our job to intuit their expectations and desires. We have language for that.

Get good at being able to express your needs and wants clearly, and not just when you feel disappointed.  Know that being able to communicate what you need doesn’t mean you will always get it, but you do have a better chance than if you don’t express it.

Share your wants, and this applies across the board – if you’ve had some bad news and need a hug, ask for one.  If you don’t have much energy and want a quiet weekend, say so before your partner commits to social plans. When you can clearly express what you both want, it’s much easier to be creative about how to satisfy needs, even when they differ.

Sex is an important area that requires us to ask for what we want. We all want our sensual efforts to be well received, we want to please our partner, and most of us welcome clues about how to do that. We may still be doing ‘what works’ because in the past it got a good response. We won’t suggest trying that new position, as the reaction was underwhelming five years ago when it was first (and last) mentioned.

I sometimes hear men say they wish their partners would tell them want they want sexually.  One reason can be because their women don’t actually know themselves, and talking opens the way to discovery. Sometimes we’re not explicit because we’re afraid it would mean saying what we don’t like –and that feels awkward or unkind.  Get over it. It much more awkward and unkind not sharing your true feelings in this most sensitive area.

Unless you talk about how and where you want to be touched, that you want to slow it right down, or that you like the idea of sex in the kitchen… unless you share your fears and resistances, and express delight in discovering the dizzy pleasure of a particular activity ­– you’re not practicing being better lovers, and you’re not going to experience an ever expanding range of possibilities. Sex is communication, and communication is also guiding your lover, it’s speaking up, it means expressing yourself openly.  It means taking risks.


This process of the good life is not, I am convinced, a life for the faint-hearted. It involves the stretching and growing
and becoming more and more
of one’s potentialities.
It involves the courage to be. It means launching oneself fully into the stream of life
– Carl Rogers

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4 Responses to Better Relationships ♯3. ask for what you want

  1. Vibha says:

    That first line is so clear and useful. love the energy in the quote at the end too.

  2. Deana says:

    I have talked myself ‘silly’…asked so many times to be touched in passing or the occasional hug, which I always have to instigate.

    There is something psychological happening. My partners have all been, non demonstrative physically in public or not !

    Really fed up….guess I’m with the wrong guy.

    • Lilliana Gibbs says:

      A few thoughts Deana; you may be choosing partners for whom touch isn’t a big emotional need, so you will be the primary instigator. Do your requests sound like complaints? is there a sense of withholding going on? Are other needs being met – both ways? is this aspect part of a bigger picture of discontent?

  3. Deana says:

    *Yes, touch is not a priority for him.

    *My request for it does not contain a sense of pleading or complaint, it’s basically a sharing of my need.

    * There are many levels of discontent from both sides, it’s very complicated and emotional, but the love looms hugely for both of us. His Mum died 2 months ago and his changes and sorrow is the priority right now. I’m treading softly.