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Two Steps To Being A Great Lover

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Sex

Believe it or not, the Golden Rule is flawed. You'll do better with the Platinum.

Believe it or not, the Golden Rule is flawed. You'll do better with the Platinum.

Would you like to be a great lover, both in and out of bed? If so, and I suspect the answer is yes, come up close and I’ll whisper a secret. It’s about learning not to project.

To explain: the vast majority of us go through our lives sussing out what others want by assuming they’re just like us, in other words that they want what we would want if we were in their situation. The Golden Rule specifically recommends this: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” 

Would you like to be a great lover, both in and out of bed? If so, and I suspect the answer is yes, come up close and I’ll whisper a secret. It’s about learning not to project.

To explain: the vast majority of us go through our lives sussing out what others want by assuming they’re just like us, in other words that they want what we would want if we were in their situation. The Golden Rule specifically recommends this: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” 

Nice idea, but in practice it can be iffy. Other people are, by definition, different from you, and so what works for you won’t necessarily work for them—different strokes for different folks and all that. When we make others a mirror of ourselves, we blind ourselves to these differences (and to people's real needs) and commit what psychologists call “projection.” Our self-image stands between us and others. We get in our own way, literally.

Projection is narcissistic—“Hello, me!”—and kind of masturbatory, too. After all, if it’s my own projected self I’m in relationship with, the only person I can possibly play with is myself.

“Narcissistic” and “masturbatory” are not words typically associated with being a great lover. No, what makes great lovers great is that they actually connect with others—magnificently. And this requires them to step away from their projections into ... let’s call it a world of difference.

Learning to see things as they really are, rather than through the fog of our projections, is a lifelong challenge. Becoming a great lover is, too. But you can accelerate your progress by following these two principles:

1. Disregard the First Commandment. As we've seen, “do unto others as you would have them do unto you” is premised on projection—and projection situates us in Billy Idol’s world of Dancing with Myself, not the Land of Great Lovers.

Luckily there’s another rule that’s—I'll put it bluntly—wiser.

2. Go Platinum. With the Platinum Rule, instead of “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you,” you have “Do unto others as they would have you do unto them.”

There’s a huge shift embedded in these three small shifted pronouns:

  • The Golden Rule says, “Assume they’re like you.” The Platinum Rule says, “Ask what they want.”
  • The Golden Rule says “The world is created in your own image.” The Platinum Rule says, “There's a world of difference out there. Embrace it and say bye-bye to projection.”

The Platinum Rule rocks. It speaks to the power that comes with bridging the often vast gaps between people rather than obscuring them with mirrors. It points to a profound truth, that the key to loving well lies in loving people in the way that works for them, not in the way that works for us.

It's true: doing this can feel like a stretch, awkward and unnatural. My advice: go ahead and stretch. Commit unnatural acts. In fact, make a habit of it!

It's precisely this--getting out of your comfort zone (a/k/a the "projection zone") and paying attention to what your partner actually wants--that will make you a great lover.

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This article was originally published at . Reprinted with permission from the author.

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