One key to having a satisfying sexual life is the ability for both partners to ask for what they want in bed. Self-help articles on this topic are plentiful on the internet. They talk about how to ask, what to bring up, what the timing should be.
However, what I see in many of my clients is a deeper issue that is never mentioned: Old learning. In many families, people found that it was pointless to ask for anything that they wanted.
In my Milestones Model of Sexual Development, this is labeled not having learned trust.
Why bother to express your wants when you’ll always be disappointed?
The behavior of learning to ask was extinguished in childhood, and now the adult doesn’t ask for favors of any kind, let alone sexual favors.
One important task of many kinds of psychotherapy is helping the client to figure out what he or she wants and learning to ask for it. Another way to look at it is helping the client to be brave enough to ask for it now, even though it used to be pointless to wish, want, or hope for.
Decades ago, I witnessed an episode between my daughter and two friends that has stuck with me. These three girls, who were about 10 at the time, all had loving and attentive families. So two of the girls, my daughter and her friend, Erin, wound up walking down a wide path holding hands, ahead of the third girl, Lizzy. I was behind all of them.
Lizzy called out, “Excluded! Excluded!” And my daughter and Erin, who for some reason had been clueless about what they were doing, immediately stopped holding hands. Lizzy ran up to them, went in between them, and she wound up in the middle, holding hands with both of the other girls. And the three of them literally went skipping down the road.
I was proud of Lizzy for being that assertive and thought how wonderful it was that she had been raised to be brave enough to be that direct about how she felt and what she needed. That interaction was magical.
Asking and getting creates a virtuous circle. Could you ever imagine being as assertive as Lizzy? Becoming more aware of your unexpressed wishes and getting the nerve to ask for what you want can help you move toward a more fulfilling life.
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