Do you know what you want?

June 18,2019

“So, uhhh… you’re not really much of a talker during sex are you?”

I can still remember that moment, even though it was well over a decade ago.

It was Xander who said that to me, as we were basking in the afterglow of what had seemed like perfectly great sex.

“No, I totally am,” I said. It was obvious in that moment that Xander wanted me to be a talker, so I became insistent that I was. I could feel myself getting defensive about it, even as I replayed the events of that evening in my head, desperately trying to think of at least one sentence that had left my lips. (News flash: I couldn’t.)

“I’m pretty sure you didn’t say a word,” he responded, gently.

My face must have gone white.

“It’s OK!” he said. “I’m sorry, I’m not trying to make you feel bad about it. I was just curious.”

There’s a reason I’m sharing this embarrassing story with you… it’s because our new topic this month is how to ask for what you want in the bedroom!

This is a topic that is near and dear to my heart because I wasn’t very good at it for a really long time, and I still make an active effort to get better at it to this day.

This month, I’m sharing three specific tools that I used to get better at asking for what I want.

Before I get into the first tip, let me share with you why I wasn’t very good at asking for what I wanted in the bedroom.

It’s because I was socialized to believe that the man was supposed to be “in charge” during sex, and the woman was just supposed to be a “good sport” and go along with it.

No one ever said that to me directly, but it’s what I picked up on from TV, movies, and magazines.

Even as I started developing an interest in sex therapy, I still didn’t realize how deeply this socialization had been ingrained in me. How I was just going along with what I thought I was “supposed” to do, instead of thinking about what I actually wanted.

That’s why I’m so grateful that Xander saw right through me, and gently called me out on it!

As we continued talking, Xander asked me, “So what do you like in the bedroom?”

“Everything we’ve been doing is great!” I responded. “Seriously, I don’t have any complaints or anything.”

“But what do you want?” He pressed.

It seemed like such a simple, straightforward question, but I just couldn’t answer it.

The perfectionistic part of my brain kicked in. I felt like I needed to give him some perfect, detailed answer that would practically guarantee I would have a crazy orgasm. I felt stuck. “I like exactly what we’re doing. Let’s keep doing that.”

“It’s hard to know where you’re at in the moment. I feel like I’m trying to read your mind, but I can’t. I would love to know what you’re thinking and feeling in the moment.”

And that’s when I finally tapped into the emotional part of what was going on. Xander didn’t want a detailed description of an elaborate fantasy or a step-by-step roadmap to my orgasm.

He wanted to feel like I was present with him in the moment. Like it was the two of us having sex together, not him doing it to me.

Here I was, thinking I was being “easy” because I was down for whatever he wanted to do, but the reality was that it was anything but easy for him. He was feeling a lot of pressure on his shoulders to magically know what I wanted without me giving any sort of feedback. And even worse, he was feeling alone in the moment too!

I finally started figuring out how to get better and more comfortable at expressing my desires in the moment. So that brings us to…

Tip #1: Change the question

The truth is that “What do you want?” is a huge question, and a lot of us have a hard time answering it.

So instead, I started thinking about a bunch of smaller questions.

If you’ve ever struggled to talk about your desires, I highly recommend you think about these questions too!

“What do I already know I like about sex, even if it seems small or obvious?”

If you fall into the same trap that I did of thinking that you need to have an elaborate answer to the “What do you want?” question, shrink it down! Think about things like, “I like to make out” and “I like soft, gentle caresses all over my body.” Even simple examples like these can be incredibly helpful to your partner!

“How do I like to feel during sex?”

The specific actions of sex aren’t the be-all-end-all of sex. How you want to feel during sex can be just as important too! For example, maybe you like to feel playful and goofy during sex. Or maybe you like to feel deeply connected and intimate.

“What am I curious about trying, even if it seems small or obvious?

The key word here is “curious.” You don’t need to know that you’ll like something in order to ask for it. You could say, “I’m curious about morning sex” or “I’m curious about you spending more time kissing my neck.”

“How can I participate in this moment with my partner, instead of making my partner lead everything?”

I know we’re calling the theme of this month, “How to ask for what you want in the bedroom,” but that phrase doesn’t fully capture it. You don’t need to specifically ask for something; you can also take the lead and just do it! So maybe you grab your partner and start making out with them, or maybe you get in a position that feels good for you.

I know we’re calling the theme of this month, “How to ask for what you want in the bedroom,” but that phrase doesn’t fully capture it. You don’t need to specifically ask for something; you can also take the lead and just do it! So maybe you grab your partner and start making out with them, or maybe you get in a position that feels good for you.

Also… Happy Pride everyone!

I know that many of my blog posts – like this one – can seem heteronormative since I’m a cis woman married to a cis man. But I aim to make my advice applicable to people and relationships of all types.

I also want to be clear that I unequivocally support the rights of all genders and sexual orientations, and celebrate freedom of sexual expression!

This month, we’re making a donation to the Trevor Project. The Trevor Project provides crisis intervention and suicide prevention services to young people under the age of 25 via their 24-hour mental health hotline: 866.488.7386.

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HI THERE!

I'm Vanessa Marin, a sex therapist and writer specializing in helping you have more fun in the bedroom.

I have bachelor’s degrees in human sexuality and sociology from Brown University, and a master’s degree in counseling psychology from the California Institute of Integral Studies. I’m also a licensed psychotherapist. I’ve been working in the sex therapy field since 2002 and have been featured by The New York Times, O: The Oprah Magazine, Real Simple, and many more.

If you’re interested in improving your sex life, you can work with me via my online courses or personal coaching sessions. I look forward to supporting you in creating the sex life you’ve always wanted!