Last week we discussed the damaging myth “If your partner really loved you, you would never have to ask for what you want“. One of the reasons that many people still operate under this damaging assumption is that they believe that if they have to ask, it doesn’t count. We want to take a moment to examine the expectations this sets up in relationships and how harmful they can be to creating fulfilling connections that have the flexibility to change over time.
Expecting your partner to know what you want without ever asking is tantamount to thinking they are a master detective who can deduce all of your wants and needs by tracking subtle clues. While you may feel your clues are far from subtle, you may be surprised how differently each person processes information. If you pass a flower shop and quietly mutter “tulips are my favorite flower” you may be shocked that your partner did not rush to said flower shop as soon as they could in order to fill your house with your favorite stems. You may feel that you beat them over the head with your obvious expectation for flowers on date night, but all you actually stated was a preference for a certain flower.
In the bedroom, this detective works gets even more complicated and unrealistic. You may try and give subtle physical cues to nudge your lover towards a certain action, but without actually communicating your sexual desires and dislikes they may constantly disappoint. This goes both ways, of course. Even if you think you are the most intuitive lover in the world, you will be surprised how much you can learn by putting your ego aside and simply asking. Our clients are often extremely scared to give and receive feedback, but once they give and receive what they want sexually, it matters less and less how they got there.
People frequently assume their partners actually know what they want and simply refuses to give it to them which leads to long term resentment that lasts much longer than any awkwardness or ego bruising from an honest conversation. Instead of thinking that asking for what you want somehow makes it less special or not count, consider that it actually counts twice—once because your partner listened and once because they cared enough to try to give you what you wanted. In our practice we often hear people say, “Well, I did ask, and they didn’t do it” or “I asked, and they did it for a week and then stopped.” Learning new habits takes time. This often means that not only do you have to ask for what you want many times, but you also have to allow your partner to practice, give gentle and loving feedback, and try again. In our upcoming book “Making Love Real-The Intelligent Couple’s Guide to Lasting Intimacy and Passion” we offer many tools for moving beyond damaging myths and towards passionate connection.