Mike says, “Hey, Sally, let’s go out to dinner.” Who is this for? Mike or Sally? How can Sally decide if she doesn’t know the answer to that question? Why is there an offer? Does Mike just want to spend time with her? Does he want or feel he needs to soothe her emotions from her bad day? Did he see the eggplant in the fridge for that fabulous recipe she has but, unknown to her, he dislikes?
Communication. How can we be clear? And can you notice in your life how you may be asking for things by skirting the issue of your needs and desires? Avoiding eggplant is skirting the issue. How about saying, “Honey, I know you love that eggplant dish, but I need to confess that I really don’t like it. I just didn’t want to hurt your feelings.” Because if you don’t, you are just going to keep being fed eggplant. You are doing it for her to make her happy, and she is spending all day in the kitchen for you to treat you to a nice meal. Hmmm. See where this is going?
When else might we notice we aren’t clear? About doing chores around the house? Planning an event when you each think you are agreeing to the other’s request but neither of you is really getting what you want at all? I’ve driven my partner to tearing his hair when I get an unclear question from him and I reply, “Who is this for?” But how amazingly answering that question clarifies how I want to respond.
Phrases like I would like or would you please determine this is for me. When you respond, “I’m willing to,” it’s for someone else. Helping friends pack and move to a new home, getting groceries for the homebound neighbor– these are great and wonderful things to do. But even if they bring you pleasure, they are not for you.
How might we adjust our language? “Honey, I’d love to take you out to dinner, my treat, since I know how hard your day was.” Okay, perfect. This person is willing to do something nice for me. Do I want to go out to dinner? I have had a hard day-but that means I just want to stay home and not deal with people any more today. So, say so. “Thank you for the offer. That’s a great idea, but what would really make my night is to stay in with you. Would take-out or having something delivered work? That would help me recover from my hard day.” Or it may be a resounding, “Yes! Please. Thank you for being so considerate.”
Sounds nice and easy, doesn’t it? Well, sometimes it is. For some of us, though, it’s not okay to ask for what we want. We feel it’s selfish; we are supposed to give, not ASK. This question “Who is it for?” is not only for close relationships, but everywhere in our lives, with spouses, friends, relatives, even the boss. Begin to notice how you ask for things. See if your words clearly communicate your intent. And also notice if you just say yes to people because you are supposed to.
Sexual Visionary Guide, Tracy Lee offers tools for you to work on this in depth in fun and playful ways. Contact me for more information.