Tell Me What You Want: Asking For What You Want in the Bedroom

Tell Me What You Want: Asking For What You Want in the Bedroom

Asking for what we want in the bedroom is something so many of us struggle with. Read one woman's story of learning to overcome that fear, and her tips on how to practice asking for the things you like.

By: Arielle Aquino

Tell me what you want

I panic and rack my brain trying to land on the sexy thing he wants to hear. I mentally flip through my list of things I usually say: pull my hair, fuck me slowly, fuck me hard. They aren’t lies - I pick the one that feels the most right for the moment; but these commands are said while considering what my partner wants to hear. I get anxious to blurt something out - afraid I don’t have enough time to really check in with myself. 

What do I really want? I want to relax but I’m anxious. I want to feel beautiful but I feel awkward. I want him to stroke my entire body for half an hour because he wants to and I don’t want to feel obligated to do anything in return. I always want him to touch slower, softer. I want him to take control of me, I don’t want to make decisions. I want him to pay attention to my orgasm, to listen to my breath. I want him to look me in the eyes when he comes. I want him to stay inside me after his orgasm; I don’t want to be rushed off. 

Unfortunately, I often don’t speak up. I don’t ask for what I want and I don’t give good feedback. When my partner asks what I want, I assume he is asking because he wants to engage in dirty talk. I assume he doesn't really want to know. I don’t take my experience as seriously as his because in some ways, I still feel that his orgasm is more important than mine. I am a giver, a healer, a provider. I get pleasure in giving to others but sometimes I use that as an excuse to ignore what I need. 

I am afraid to tell him what I really want. I am afraid it will expose me to tell him this intimate truth. It will leave me bare to speak the words into the air between us. Instead I rely on what I don’t say - the sounds I make, the way I move my body, the look I give him. I hope he is paying attention and that he knows how to read my personal body language. I am frustrated when we don’t connect the way I had hoped but it’s my own fault. I know I cannot expect him to know what I need but I am paralyzed to ask for it. 

I am afraid of what it will mean: that I’m bossy, that I’m selfish, that I think he is a bad lover, that I wish he would do it like someone else does. None of those are true - but somehow we’ve been conditioned to believe they are. I don’t know why we believe that asking for what you want comes with all these other stories; when in fact it just means that you want something. My fear of what it means about me or about him is so deeply ingrained in me that it is hard to disconnect from those beliefs and just voice it. 

I realize that often, I’m not actually sure of what I want. I was never asked by any partners when I was younger so I didn’t develop that inner compass. Now at the age of 28, I have just started to learn about my desires. I have to listen to what I actually want - for me - and not just what I want so I can please him. I’m practicing. I’m at the beginning of this evolution. Here are the tips I’ve come up with for asking what you want. Please share yours in the comments below!

  • First of all, tell your partner that this is hard for you. Talk about it before you are in the moment. Tell them that you want to express your needs but find it difficult to do so. If this is new for you, say so. Ask for their patience. 
  • When your partner asks what you want, give yourself time. Do not rush to come up with an answer. Take a breath, clear your mind if you can. Allow your inner guide to surface.
  • Then without judgement, speak the first thing that comes to mind. Sometimes the first thing that’s come to my mind is, “I really want to stop having sex and just touch each other for a while” but I’m afraid of hurting the other person’s feelings so I don’t speak this. Trust your gut and honor yourself. If you want to take a break from sex, say so. 
  • Sometimes I find it easier to say what I don’t like or what I want my partner to stop doing. I’ve been practicing asking for what I would like instead, as opposed to asking them to stop. Try and rephrase it as something you DO want. 

For example, your partner might be rubbing you too hard for your liking. Instead of telling them you don’t like it, get clear on what would make it better. Say, “Can you touch me more lightly?” or, “I prefer to be stroked less hard”.

*Note: Of course if your partner is doing something that hurts, triggers you, or feels terrible, you should tell them to stop right away. Do not feel you need to phrase it as a positive in these instances. The above tip is referring to times where you’re not thrilled with what they’re doing, and would prefer something else. 

  • If you’re asked what you want and you’re not sure, say so. But make it a priority to volunteer something you do want later in the session. 
  • Just try it. Try asking for what you want. If you’re not sure what you want, just ask for something - anything. Remember that nothing is set in stone. If you change your mind later, no big deal. You can try something new.