Despite what we see in movies, no two people share the exact same fantasies and desires. None.
Even if your fantasy is similar, details may be off or the desire you share will be different. I see it every day, one partner desires sex daily, the other twice a day- their desire isn't the same and that's perfectly normal.
Here's the hard truth about sexual desires in relationships:
1. No two people have the exact same desires.
2. There is nothing wrong with you or your desires.
As long as you are among consenting adults your desires are valid. Period.
But since our desires and fantasies aren't the same there will inevitably be a time in a relationship when we need to ask for something new to get our needs met. Here are the four main considerations to think through before asking your partner for what you want:
Remember you are asking
It's vulnerable to ask for what we want- so we often use defense mechanisms without even realizing it. We use humor, sarcasm, self-deprecation and all kinds of other tactics to take the pressure off- often losing the clarity we started with about what we want.
I might say "I've been kind of thinking about trying this thing once... but it's not that big a deal." When really what I mean is "I am going to tell you something I have never told anyone, so I am super nervous about it. But I have been thinking about (insert fantasy here) for years and I really want to try it with you some time. Would you ever consider trying something like that?"
Because we're asking for something we really want we can forget we're asking for consent. Challenge yourself to think of this as an invitation to share something instead of a secret disclosure to help you keep grounded when defense creeps in.
Think it through and get specific
Some of the desires I talk through with clients have been secret fantasies for years. We've replayed them in our heads often enough they've become familiar and we can think we're clear about what we want- even when we're not.
For example, if I've know I want to try bondage and have been fantasizing about rope play for years. I know I want to do it and it's so exciting to me I might blurt it out to a partner in a fit of passion. But I've never actually bought rope, taken measurements, talked to anyone else who uses rope in bondage, or felt it against my skin.
Before I bring it up to a partner, I need to have a little logistical information in place to help answer their questions (like, where would we get the rope? how much do we need? your place or mine? for example).
Consider the impact, comfort, and safety concerns
Similar to basic logistics and specifics, consider the safety concerns involved so you can bring the subject up with consideration- especially if you are interested in more advanced kink play. Many partners are concerned about scarring, bruises, clean up, and other concerns when the topic is brought up- be sure to put a little thought into the safety concerns your partner may have when you ask.
Don't be surprised if your partner asks logistical questions or brings up concerns you may not have thought of in advance (the point isn't to become a mind-reader), instead take them into consideration. "Oh, I didn't realize you'd feel uncomfortable being undressed in front of others. Let's find a different way that feels better for you." Will help you two stay connected instead of getting defensive or assumptive.
Ask about their fantasies
Remember your partner has fantasies too. The more you can practice receiving their desires with the kind of openness you would like to experience the more you two can share and explore. They may even surprise you!
Gina Senarighi, MS, MA, CPC is a sex educator and relationship coach specializing in polyamory, open relationships, jealousy, LGBTQ issues and infidelity.
She can help you:
- rediscover passion in long-term relationships
- repair trust after infidelity or dishonesty
- move past jealousy, insecurity or codependent patterns
- open your relationship or practice polyamory with care
- resolve sexual dysfunction and disconnect
- break unhealthy communication patterns in your relationship
Contact her for a free consultation to see if working with her is right for you.