How Well Do You Know Your Own Desires?

woman sex desire
Buzz, Sex

New erotic romance S.E.C.R.E.T.: A Novel pushes readers to ask: what do I truly desire?

With a motto of "No Judgments. No Limits. No Shame." S.E.C.R.E.T. is designed to help women get back in touch with their sexual side — and in doing so, the "most powerful part of themselves" — in 10 different steps. Over the course of a year, the group helps each member live out 10 sexual fantasies of her choosing. Cassie's overwhelmed from the beginning, because she's never really pondered sexual fantasies, much less experienced them. She starts the tough work of figuring out all the deeper needs she's never had met.

Unfortunately, S.E.C.R.E.T. is a work of fiction. (And if it's not, someone needs to spill the beans, stat!) But what if you had the same opportunity to have your fantasies and needs fulfilled? Would you know where to start? YourTango Expert Marta Rocha Weber, an emotional health expert, points out that the process can be especially difficult for women. "From a young age, many women are taught to attend to the needs of others," she says. "Women are often not as in tune with their own desires. They might not even see their sexual needs as important."

Not paying attention to these needs can lead to depression, anxiety, and relationship issues. Weber says the "toxic waste" of resentment and feelings of rejection can render intimacy impossible. In S.E.C.R.E.T., for example, Cassie feels so unfulfilled that she stops having sex with her husband. After he dies, she feels guilty and can't fathom moving on with her life. "Was I lonely? Yes, of course. But I was also slowly shutting down parts of myself, seemingly for good, like a large factory going dark..."

Fulfilling sexual needs, on the other hand, leads to greater confidence, self-esteem, and happiness in and out of relationships. A fulfilled partner is a better partner and a better person, in general. Cassie's completion of the 10 steps in the book captures this journey full-circle. By learning to share her needs and have them met, in one chapter she also learns to be more giving — in the bedroom and beyond. "This was the point of S.E.C.R.E.T.," Cassie realizes, "To get us to surrender the body to its needs entirely, and to help others surrender too."

So how do you get your own needs fulfilled? YourTango Expert Kelly Rudolph, a life and personal development coach, says it starts with realizing that you're worthy of having your needs met; but at the same time realizing that true fulfillment comes from inside, long before you bring someone else into the equation. "Having needs met and being needy are opposite things," Rudolph says. "Being needy means you'll accept any partner, whether he fulfills your needs or not. Having your needs met comes first and foremost from knowing yourself and learning what kinds of people can positively fit into your life."

Expressing your desires clearly and directly is the next part. Just because someone's a good fit doesn't mean he or she's a mind reader! "Let your partner know, 'I love when you do this, it feels so good when you do that,'" Rudolph says. If you have to critique something your partner does sexually, layer the criticism between two pieces of praise. Rudolph also suggests visualization. "Visualize how you want your relationship to be," she says. "Visualize your partner doing exactly what you want ... and enjoying it. It's the first step to making it actually happen."

Another idea: Read S.E.C.R.E.T— and follow Cassie's lead!

Eager to learn more about the book? Check out the S.E.C.R.E.T Facebook page for more juicy conversation about the book (for example, a recent poll asks, "If the S.E.C.R.E.T were real, would you join the club?").