"How Do I Ask For What I Need?"By Dr. Margaret Paul
November 30, 2020
Have you often wondered how to ask for what you want in a way that is not experienced as demanding or needy?
In a healthy, loving relationship, partners ask each other for what they need, and generally receive a caring response. But sometimes this can get tricky – depending on whether it is your loving adult asking, or your wounded self. This dilemma is expressed by Julie in the following question:
"How can I express to my partner that sometimes I need the time and attention he gives to other people without sounding jealous or selfish."
While this might seem like a simple question, it has many subtle aspects to it.
Julie, the first question I would suggest you ask of yourself is, "Why do I need the time and attention that my partner gives other people?"
Some possible answers might be:
We don't spend enough time together and our relationship is suffering because of it. We need more connected time together to nurture our relationship. I love my partner and I want to share my love with him, and we need to find more time together to share our love with each other.
I am not giving myself enough time and attention, and I'm making my partner responsible for giving me what I'm not giving to myself.
I actually am being selfish in that I don't care what my partner really wants – I just want what I want.
- I am jealous of the time he/she gives to others, but I don't want him to know this.
If your reason is the first answer, then it is not likely that your partner will experience you as controlling, selfish or jealous. If you are coming from your loving adult self, wanting to share love and connection with your partner, he will pick up that loving energy. He will experience your expression of your need as a request rather than as a demand, and will likely appreciate that you care about the health of the relationship.
You Can’t Hide Your Intention
But if your reason for wanting more time with your partner is anything other than the first answer, you might want to look at your intention. There is no way to hide when you are coming from an intention to control – which is what you are doing if you are abandoning yourself and making him responsible for your feelings. You cannot hide your intent, no matter what words you use. The other person may not have words for it, but they will always pick it up in your energy - if not consciously, then subconsciously.
If your request is coming from your own neediness, due to self-abandonment, then your partner may react to you with anger, withdrawal, resistance, or even compliance. But even if he complies, it does not mean that all is well. If he complies out of fear of your reaction if he doesn't give you want you want, there will always be negative consequences.
The only way I know to not sound jealous, needy or selfish is to not be feeling that way.
If you are feeling jealous or needy, then you need to do your Inner Bonding work to learn to give your inner child the time, attention and connection she needs from you. Once you are loving yourself, then you will be able to ask for more time and attention from your partner without worrying about sounding jealous and selfish.
Many of us like to convince ourselves that if we say something exactly 'right,' then our partner will not pick up our real intention. This is a false belief of the wounded self. While communication skills are helpful, there actually is no 'right' way to say something. What you say either comes from your heart because you are a loving adult, or it comes from your head because you are operating from your wounded self, trying to control. While the words might be exactly the same, the energy will be entirely different - and the response will be entirely different. So be very clear on your intent!
Heal your relationship with Dr. Margaret’s 30-Day online video relationship course: Wildly, Deeply, Joyously in Love.
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Today, notice if your intent is to get love or approval from others or to give love to yourself and others. Trying to get love or approval will always end up causing suffering. Giving love to yourself and others brings joy.
By Dr. Margaret Paul