Part of being an honest partner means asking for what you want. If you have a desire, speak up about it. Ask for what you want rather than not even trying, going about it passively, or trying to manipulate the situation. Use the words “I want” or “I would like,” and then follow it up with a direct request about whether that thing can happen. For instance, you might say, “I would like to slow way down in sex and take more time before we have intercourse.” This is a crucial relationship skill. And it’s hard for a lot of people, especially if you learned as a kid that your wants didn’t matter or if you were rewarded for not wanting much.

While making direct requests is critical, it is equally important that you can tolerate hearing no. Just because you muster the courage to ask for something doesn’t mean you’re going to get it. Your partner’s desires matter, too, and it is just as important that they are able to be honest with you and say no if they need to. You will need to collaborate to create solutions that work for you both. My previous blog post about the safety that comes from honesty underscores how important it is that your partner take care of themselves and that saying no can be a good thing. You’re going to need to develop the strength to keep asking for what you want in life despite not always getting it.

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