How to clearly ask for what you want
I recently started connecting and talking with someone new. There appear to be mutual feelings and that we have a lot in common. The story of how we met is just… quite unusual. All signs point to this being something worth exploring further.
I’m preparing myself to have that conversation. The “What do we both want with this connection going forward?” conversation.
There are two pretty likely outcomes. He could say “Yes, I’d love to explore more connection and talk about what that could look like with you,” which would be awesome and we’d be on the same page.
He also might say “You know, it’s been really great connecting and I’m not available for anything more right now,” and then I know where he stands.
While I’m hoping for the first response, I’m unattached either way. We say in recovery, “Let go and let God. Turn over the results.”
The last time I had this conversation was with my previous boyfriend and leading up to those words felt like I was about to walk off a cliff. I talk with my clients about this in my relationship coaching practice all the time. Saying the truth and expressing your desires should feel like you’re about to free-fall into mid-air or step off a ledge into an abyss. Feeling swirled up in a cocktail of emotions — nervous, excited, terrified.
The truth, we have to learn how to master and be ok with rejection if we really want to have meaningful and fulfilling relationships.
I realize it’s much easier said than done.
Here are some tips to make sure you really stick the landing expressing a potentially vulnerable desire and asking for what you want.
Say the 1st Generation Thought
Potency and electricity decrease the more time that passes between the voice of desire and the actual expression of it. This man and I just had a connected, intimate conversation. The next right step is for me to express this desire for more connection… soon. If I wait until next week, until after the “4-day rule” if I’m sitting around hoping he makes a move first, slowly but surely the sensation is going to start to drain out of this connection.
Desire can have a shelf life and it’s most potent when it’s the ‘first generation’ thought. Not the second, third, or fourth over-analyzed version of the desire.
In my relationship coaching practice, I see clients who wish they had said something or expressed a truth but they hesitated. They doubted themselves and they waited. By the time the conversation actually came around, it was flat and there was a layer of resentment and bitterness on top now. There was no flow or energy exchange and on the other side of that conversation, there was less, not more electricity. When that happens we feel disconnected and disappointed and run the risk of blaming the other person when really, it was us who hesitated.
Challenge yourself to speak your truth and express yourself in real-time. The more ruminating, contemplating, and strategizing you do will not actually be in service to the relationship. Be willing to take the risk and you will be rewarded with more intimacy on the other side.
Don’t Act Like You Don’t Know
“I want you to come up here and visit me,” I asked my then-boyfriend. I had finally gotten up the courage to invite him for a long weekend where I was on a personal retreat outside of San Fransisco. I expressed my desire for him to come for the last half of my stay so that we could travel back to LA together.
“Ok,” he said, “and what do you want us to do?”
Caught in the intensity of him actually, potentially coming I got nervous and replied, “Uhhhh well I don’t know,” and after that text was sent I could feel all the sensation getting sucked out from the exchange.
He took some time to reply and finally said, “You know, I’m probably going to stay in LA, so no thanks on this,” and then he proceeded to change the topic.
I was trying to stay engaged but I so disappointed, almost heartbroken. I had just expressed this vulnerable desire for him to come and stay with me. It took so much of me to come out and ask him for him only for him to drop and reject me.
A few days later I told him it hurt my feelings when that happened and he said “Honestly Molly, I was so ready to come and visit, buy the plane ticket, but when you answered that you didn’t know what you wanted us to do but I could feel you really did know, it didn’t feel good or exciting anymore so I took my attention off. It felt as if you wanted me to hold the weight of your desire and pull it out of you instead of just powerfully expressing it where I could feel you underneath.”
As much as it sucked hearing this, he was completely right. I did know exactly what I wanted us to do together when he visited. I had been imagining in my head all week leading up to actually asking him. Answering “I don’t know” was a lie and it was me dropping my power hoping he’d pick it back up and hold it for me instead of continuing to stay in my power and fully ask for what I wanted from him.
This time, leading up to this conversation with this new man, when I express the desire and should he say something like “and what do you want that to look like” I’m prepared to clearly and explicitly describe what I want our new connection to look like because I do know.
Don’t act like you don’t know when you do know. I can’t tell you how many times I hear people say “Well, I don’t know exactly what this will look like but…” Yes they do. They’ve been planning and envisioning it in their head exactly what they want it to look like.
Truth and honesty = electricity and potency. Don’t sell yourself short and dissipate the sensation in your connections.
You Don’t Need to Justify Anything
In case you haven’t heard this before… you’re never required to justify your desires, your yes or your no, or really any of your expression, ever. You have a right to say no without needing to provide an explanation. You’re allowed to change your mind without providing an explanation and so does everyone else. You are entitled to be received in your expression even if it’s not what the other person wants to hear.
When expressing a desire, a wish, a request, you don’t need to explain or justify why you want it. You have total freedom to ask for something and the person on the other end can either say yes or no.
For example, in mental preparation for this conversation with this new man, I was thinking about exactly what I want to say. I was noticing myself going into “I just think that it’s so coincidental, xyz happened and I just think that because of xyz we should connect more,” and I was able to catch myself.
There doesn’t need to be any xyz rationalizations or reasons for my having this desire. I can simply have the desire to connect more with this man and that in itself is right and true. Explaining in huge detail why it all makes sense decreases the sensation and potency in my expression.
Expressing desire and asking for what we want can feel hugely vulnerable. Partly because desire is truth and the truth can be uncomfortable.
Regular risks are like investments. They start to pay off and you think, yes! I took $10 and it turned into $20, that’s great. Intimate, feeling-based risks are telling someone a desire because it feels so big and you’re sure they’ll say no and you’ll be devastated. One time you say, I could use a little devastation and they say yes. That’s where the investment pays off.