Just the Tip: Ask, don’t tell


Carin Huber, Opinion Editor


You may worry that your partner will think you expect too much or they’ll think you’re some kind of freak. There’s only one way to get what you want.


You should find out as soon as possible if the two of you have compatible interests. Neither of you will be happy if you like “reverse cowgirl” in front of a mirror, but your partner is strictly a lights-out-missionary-position kind of guy.

It’s nerve wracking to ask for something in bed outside of what polite society deems appropriate. Maybe your partner has been sexually sheltered, but don’t bet on it. Unless she has never had a computer or smart phone, she’s probably explored erotica.

You don’t have to negotiate a contract of what you’ll do in bed (unless that’s what you like.) Whisper in his ear what you want to do to him as you unbutton his shirt. You’ll be able to tell from his reaction if he’s willing to try it. If he doesn’t respond, or responds negatively, don’t dwell on it right then. Suggest some other activity and keep the energy going.

You can answer any questions he has later. Be honest and non-defensive about your interests, and offer ideas for small steps you can take together.  Maybe he’s not ready for handcuffs; ask him to hold onto the headboard and not let go without your permission. Let him test the water before diving in head-first. If his answer is still no,   decide if the issue is a deal-breaker.

It’s just as important to be on the same page in an established relationship. Living together brings a whole new set of challenges.

Does she leave dishes in the sink for days? Don’t let the frustration build up until you’re ready to blow up. Talk about it. The key here is to not attack with your words. Ask, don’t tell. Try to present the issue as you needing help, not as her doing something wrong. She’ll be more likely listen if she feels she’s helping you than if she feels you’re blaming her. Maybe there’s a reason she can’t stand washing dishes. Be open to negotiating a different division of labor.

If the problem is one of hurt feelings rather than poor housekeeping it’s important to be calm and clear, not reactionary. Did he go out drinking with the guys after work and leave you sitting at home with a nice dinner getting cold? First, wait until the next morning to talk to him about it. That will give him a chance to sober up, and you a chance to cool off a little.

When you do talk about it, try to be non-confrontational. Communication experts say to use “I” statements and to refer to the behavior, not the person, as the problem. Tell him, “when I’m left waiting, I feel forgotten.” Don’t say, “you’re so inconsiderate!” That will just make him feel defensive.

Communicate, communicate, communicate! Talking something out with your partner is more important than your pride or apprehension. Otherwise you risk resentment between you, and that leads to a toxic relationship.

Do you have a question about sex, sexuality or relationships? Email [email protected] and we may answer your question in the next Just the Tip.