My biggest pet peeve is feeling ignored. My partner’s greatest weakness is not paying attention. I’m sure you can see how that makes for some annoying moments in our relationship. Actually, annoying is an understatement. It drives me crazy when I say something and get no response.Dealing with this has been a huge learning experience for me. I’ve learned that he’s not a mind reader and that he’s not great at picking up on subtle hints. So it’s not that he doesn’t care about my wants and needs—he just doesn’t know what they are.
I’ve been practicing just asking for what I want and, let me tell you, it has made a world of difference.
Here are 4 ways to ask for what you want and (hopefully) get it.
Pay attention to how you ask
If you’re feeling like your needs aren’t being met or you aren’t getting what you want out of your relationship, it can be hard to keep your cool about it. But approaching your partner in an accusatory way is likely to just lead to them feeling defensive. How you ask for what you want is far more important than what you’re asking for.
The best way to be heard (and get what you want) is to have a calm, practical conversation with your partner. Let them know what you want as clearly as possible and then give them the opportunity to respond. Whether you’re asking for more help around the house or for them to put you as a priority over their mother, being level-headed about your request will get you further than going on a rant about how you don’t like what they’re doing.
Don’t ask in the heat of the moment
This goes hand in hand with how you ask. If you’re annoyed that your partner isn’t showing you as much affection as you’d like, bringing it up at that moment can feel like an attack and is likely to backfire. Chances are that your partner doesn’t even know they did something that bothered you. That’s not to say your feelings aren’t valid or that you don’t deserve to be heard. It’s just more productive to wait until you’ve had time to cool off before engaging your partner in a conversation.
Talking about what you want can be challenging but it’s a lot easier when you’re not still reeling from hurt feelings or frustration. Along with making sure you’re both in a headspace where a conversation isn’t likely to turn into an argument, ask for what you want when there aren’t a lot of other distractions. Talking while fixing something around the house or trying to pay bills isn’t conducive to a productive conversation.
Know what you’re asking for
One of the biggest challenges I face when asking my partner for what I want is that I don’t always have a clear idea of what that is. It’s a lot easier to know what you don’t want than to identify what you do want. I’ve found that what you don’t want is a great starting point, though.
For example, I know that I do not want my partner to not respond when I say something. From that, I can figure out that, while I don’t necessarily need his undivided attention, I’d like for him to acknowledge me (even if he just asks me to wait a minute while he finishes up an email). Going into a conversation with a clear picture of what you want can make the whole process go more smoothly.
BE OPEN TO COMPROMISE
You went to your partner during a good time, with a calm tone, and a clear idea of what you want. That’s great! But if there’s anything I’ve learned about relationships, it’s that they require compromise. Be willing to look at the situation from your partner’s perspective. Don’t demand that they meet your needs or honor your wants, just state what you’d like and then work together to reach an agreement that feels good to both of you.
The reality is that no one person will always be able to meet all of your needs (or wants). Knowing this going in can prevent a situation from escalating. Still, asking for what you want is a healthy part of a relationship that doesn’t have to be avoided to spare each other’s feelings. In fact, feeling comfortable enough to ask for what you want is a sign of a healthy relationship. Finding a way to meet each other’s needs in a way that works for both of you isn’t much of a stretch from there.