“If you don’t ask…you don’t get.” This is one of my dad’s favorites. I heard it so often growing up that it’s now a mantra in my already-overloaded brain. Dad’s premise was that it’s your responsibility to state what you want, and then you give people a chance to give it to you. If you don’t ask for something, there’s a good chance you won’t get it. And if you don’t, it’s not the giver’s fault; it’s yours.
I use this advice in all kinds of situations: in restaurants when I’m ordering, when I need help from a tall person passing to reach something on a high shelf, when my girlfriends are planning a night out, or when a raise is in order at work. The most significant place I use this, though, is in my marriage.
My husband, Larry, is phenomenally intuitive and pays better attention to the world around him than any man I’ve ever met. (I’m really lucky. But there are more out there like him!) Yet even my über-husband can’t always get it right when it comes to pleasing me. And it’s completely unrealistic to expect that. When I want him to do something for me that’s important, or when there’s something specific I’d like that would really make me happy, I tell him.
Sometimes it’s hard to ask for what we want, even in simple day-to-day life situations. We’ll accept the overcooked meal, we’ll politely say “thank you” and hang up with the customer service rep even though we have no idea what the answer to our question is, we’ll go somewhere we hate to go instead of saying we’d prefer to go elsewhere.
Learning how to ask for what you want in a kind and non-threatening way is one of the strongest tools you can use in mature dating, particularly with your man. Seriously, cluing your man in to what makes you happy is the very best gift you can give him — hands down.
I’m told by many women that it’s hard to do. My friend Jan told me she doesn’t think she should have to tell a man what she wants. She, and others, have told me “If he’s paying attention, he should be able to figure out what I like.”
No, no, NOOOO! That’s just not so.
Men don’t think like women. They can’t! To expect anyone, especially a man who is so fundamentally different than you, to consistently surmise what you want is just not realistic. And continuing to expect this will ruin, or at least stunt, an otherwise great relationship.
This is one of the top complaints made by men about women: that we expect them to read our minds. (Right guys? Are you there? Chime in here, please.) During my years of dating online and off, it used to be my test to see if a man really liked me. Because, my theory went, if he could figure out what I wanted without me having to tell him, then WOW, he’s really into me.
Here’s the thing: when a men asks you to tell him what you like and what you want, that means he’s putting effort into making you happy. It’s no secret that men aren’t usually good in the ask-for-direction category. This can be hard for some men to do. So when he does, it means that he wants to get it right. Isn’t that exactly what we’re looking for? A man who’s willing to work at making us happy?
So when you’re getting down with some mature dating and a man asks what you want to do on your date, he’s probably not being lazy or inattentive. He’s going out of his way to learn about what makes you smile. Your smile and your “Oh, I love this. Thank you!” is absolute music to the man who is trying to please you. And girlfriends, if he’s doing that, he cares about you.
So if you want to give a man the most wonderful gift, tell him what will make you happy. Then let him do it. Give this gift to the nice man you’ve just met online, the guy you’re going out with for the third time, or your husband of 10 years.
Try this tonight; if not with your partner, try it with a friend or the clerk or waiter. Ask for what will make you happy. Let me know how it goes.
And if you want to know how to ASK vs. DEMAND, read my other post “How to Ask for What You Want from a Man.“
Let me know how it goes!