Getting your needs met is often a whole lot harder than it needs to be.
Ahh, communication. One of life’s most difficult-to-master everyday dealings. It can often be a pratfall in romantic relationships that can be difficult to rebound from. How do we get what we want– both in regular everyday existence and in our romantic relationships?
Some people, partners mostly, might think of me as kinda-sorta-slightly bossy. Over time, I’ve figured out my own highly neurotic ways to do things. On top of that, I don’t lie about feelings. If you ask how I’m doing and the answer is terrible, you will hear that I am doing terribly. I can be an anxious, emotionally roller-coastery sort of person, and over many years of life, it has come to my attention that this can’t be hidden particularly well. It has therefore been embraced and my suggestion to you is that you embrace it as well. Not the anxiety part, but the honesty.
Providing what you want is expressed kindly, people often want to help you get it. So, here are some ways you can express what you want in life (alongside relationships running smoother, this is also better for getting refunds, dealing with coworkers, etc). Full disclosure: much easier said than done.
Be Gentle With Yourself
Sometimes, we are the worst. Sometimes, life is cruel to us and makes us angry. Or sad. Sometimes people have mental or anxiety disorders. Getting down on yourself about not being the super fun sex-bot your partner first fell in love/lust with is the opposite of helpful. I am guilty of this a lot. The kinder you are to yourself about your own issues, the less likely that you will spiral further into self-hate. And since most of us can’t handle self-hate, we tend to spin it into anger at others. So be nicer to yourself and you will be nicer to the rest of the world too.
We aren’t all assembly-line identical and don’t all want the same things, this is true of every single person. Your partner may not be into all the same sexual acts as you and while you might be down to try certain stuff, some might wig you out. I don’t think people need to force themselves to try anything they aren’t ready for: sometimes you won’t want to have sex as much as you want to eat half a pack of Twizzlers while crying to the Magnetic Fields’ 69 Love Songs. Cool. The calmer you are about accepting what just isn’t you, the quicker you will bounce back because you aren’t adding new stress on top.
If someone wants to do something that you aren’t comfortable with, tell them. Especially, but not limited to, during sexy times. I don’t try anything that I’m not personally interested in because I honestly believe it’ll show. If I’m not fully into what’s happening, I will probably end up hesitant or awkward, with a 79% chance I’ll be making a strange Muppet face as a coping mechanism. Not a sexy look for the bedroom. It’s like when someone tries to drag me to a straight dance club that plays music that came out later than the 1990s. I will be weird and it will ruin your fun, so I’ll just say no thank you and save us both the trouble.
The right people in your life will love you regardless of if you wear the perfect sexy bra or go clubbing. But the only way for the right people to know who exactly you are takes me to my next suggestion, which is…
Emotions are messy. Sometimes, we act a little wacky because of them, and there isn’t anything you can do. People have baggage and all their own internal context that they are dealing with, so it’s best to be open about what is bothering you and why. Don’t navigate around your wants and needs with gentle little lies. If I feel like shit, my partner will know because it will manifest in my behaviour–in my case, I’ll be curt and suddenly humorless. I’ll be quiet (I’m rarely quiet). So if you aren’t honest about how are feeling, how can someone act accordingly? In terms of your partner (or friend, or co-worker, or parent), they probably want to understand why you are suddenly skulking around like a grumpy monster. They will know something is wrong and that you are lying when you say nothing is wrong, and then it’ll create unease in them about your ability to be honest. According to Psychology Today, trust “builds your internal security so that you not only feel good about your partner, but you also feel better about life”. To this, you might say duh. But people tend to subscribe to the little white lies are ok belief (I have, on occasion), but according to that same article, honesty is “about telling the truth in a way that your partner will hear it and benefit from it”.
So, while I reserve the right to not be into something my partner might be into it, it’s still good to know what it is they are into. Repression is no one’s friend. And discussion could lead people to find a compromise that could be somewhere in between.
The final rule in getting what you want from friends, lovers, and random humans who pop up in your universe is…
Be Goddamn Polite
If someone has done something in a way that you don’t love, phrase it so that they don’t feel like they are being chastised. No one wants to learn from someone who makes them feel like a garbage person, so choose your words to encourage understanding. For instance:
Affirming someone’s amazing qualities is far more productive than criticizing their negative ones.
It’s just as easy to phrase things politely as it is to be a dick and one way you are more likely to get a pleasant outcome.
We want to help people who endear themselves to us, it’s the same reason people in customer service will cut you slack if you are kind and respectful while pleading for a refund or some other form of small, exceptional mercy. If you kick down the door with guns blazing, people want you gone but probably less than they want vengeance.
Ask, but don’t cajole. If you have asked someone for something and they have already said no, leave it. People don’t like being forced. And do you really want someone you had to basically force someone into? I’m going to hope that your reply was no.
Obviously, that is something true of the bedroom as well. If the idea of a certain type of sexual act makes your partner uncomfortable, whining until they agree so that you shut up isn’t going to be the best way forward. If, on the other hand, they are willing to consider it but maybe aren’t ready yet, try and read up on it first as a couple and see if it’s something you can slowly work towards. Togetherness breeds intimacy, and maybe it will appeal as a learning experience more than it would as an idea that they need to adjust to alone. On the other hand, if their response to your suggestion is Nope–respect that. You can find other things to try together that will appeal more.
Communication isn’t easy, no matter how intimately we know someone. Don’t look at intimacy as a manipulation tactic because it shouldn’t be. It should be something that brings new levels of understanding and togetherness to a partnership (be it in business, friendship, or romance). Put yourself first–or at least on par–with others and let yourself be pleasantly selfish sometimes.