Sometimes she hears from him several times a day. Other times he falls out of touch completely for days at a time. She is disconcerted by this man who is courting her, and it leaves her feeling unstable and unsure whether to trust him.
“Have you said any of this to him?” I ask.
She sounds horrified at the idea. “No! What would I say? I don’t want to come across as needy!”
“But the truth is that you DO have needs in order to feel safe and cared for. And it’s possible that by saying those needs out loud, you could either get those needs met or weed out an unsuitable partner. It would let you know if he is mature and stable enough to meet you where you are.”
After a moment she says in a quiet voice, “But what if I have unrealistic expectations? Isn’t this MY problem to deal with?”
“Is it unrealistic to want to feel supported by a potential partner? Would you want someone you are dating to feel constantly off-center because of your actions?”
“Oh god no!!!!”
“But you believe that you don’t deserve that same respect from the people that you date.”
“I guess,” she agrees. “It sounds terrible when you say it that way.”
“Could you say something like this to him: I like you, and I think you like me. Something that would make me feel really cared for is if I knew that I was going to hear from you at least once a day. It doesn’t need to be a long conversation, but I like to know that you’re thinking of me.”
“WAIT!” she gasps in shock. “YOU MEAN I CAN SAY THAT?!?!?!?!”
Her utter incredulity at the idea of giving voice to her needs might make me chuckle if I didn’t hear it so frequently from other women – both friends and clients.
I had my own “I can say that?!?!” moment about nine months ago. I was sitting in a class that teaches people how to communicate ABOUT sex before HAVING sex – amazing idea, right?!
During the class, we broke into small groups to practice the various skills they taught us. I spent a lot of that time crying, terrified at the idea of speaking out loud about desires I’d long ago convinced myself weren’t “appropriate” or “lady-like” or whatever-the-fuck.
Because I was A GOOD GIRL and Good Girls don’t go around talking about what turns them on. Good Girls don’t say “no” when the answer is “maybe,” because then we’re a cock tease. And Good Girls, I’d been told by countless magazine and internet articles, swallow their boyfriends cum.
Except I couldn’t. I got physically sick just having ejaculate in my mouth, let alone having it dribble down my throat. The last time I’d done it, I’d wretched and coughed and felt nauseous for three days. THREE DAYS. Why? No idea. But the reaction is consistent.
This message is also consistent: if you “really love him,” you swallow.
Since I couldn’t swallow, I did the only other thing I could think of – I avoided giving blow jobs entirely. Did the men I dated feel cheated? I have no idea. Because I never talked about it – ANY of it – with them.
So here I sat in this class and I heard a woman in a nearby group say, “One of my boundaries is that I don’t allow a man to cum in my mouth or on my face.”
And I just about lost my ever-loving mind!!!!!
“WAIT A MINUTE!!!!!!” I screamed inside my head. “YOU CAN SAY THAT?!?!?!?!?!?!”
Lightning didn’t strike her. She wasn’t attacked or vilified by the men in the room. In fact, I saw several women nodding their heads along with her. As if, perhaps, this was a relatively normal and reasonable request.
In the past nine months I’ve had the opportunity to tell a variety of men that I don’t want cum in my mouth or on my face, and I haven’t received a single negative response to my statement. It was a non-issue every time, especially because I said it up front when it was clearly about MY preferences, not a comment on HIS smell or taste or performance.
Taking that class was a major turning point in my journey of sexual healing. I’ve discovered that it’s okay to not only enjoy sex, but to ASK FOR WHAT I WANT. Of course, before I could ask anyone for it, first I had to FIGURE OUT what I wanted. But that’s a story for another blog post … or twelve.
And I’m looking forward to sharing it all with you. There’s a book in the works and an upcoming podcast. And I’ve already started working with clients to clearly identify what they want and how to articulate it.
Like this woman*, who wants consistent communication from a potential partner, but is afraid to ask for it.
“YOU MEAN I CAN SAY THAT?!?!?!” she demands.
“Yes, you can,” I reply. “If he can’t honor that request, it doesn’t make him a bad person but it means that the two of you aren’t well-matched as potential partners. Better to find that out now! And if he CAN honor that request, I bet he’ll be relieved at having such clear direction about what makes you happy. How does it feel to think about it like that?”
“It feels like a relief!”
Yes, it does.
And by the way – that thing that you’ve wanted to say, but were afraid it would make you less of a Good Girl? I give YOU permission to say that thing too.
* All client sessions are confidential. In these writings, any client conversations that I refer to are based on real conversations, but are not exact recreations of those conversations. All identifying details have been removed or changed. In some cases they may be compilations of conversations with multiple clients who have articulated similar questions/thoughts/fears.
If you’d like to work with me on how to start saying the things that you need to say, send me an email at Leah@GoodGirlsTalkAboutSex.com
Photo by Quino Al on Unsplash