5 Ways To Ask For What You Want In A Relationship

Learning to effectively ask for what you want is a key to relationship satisfaction.

couple unpacking boxes

There is nothing that can impact our lives more than when we are functioning at our best in our lives and in our relationship. It impacts our overall happiness, the way we go about our jobs, and all areas of our lives. But how do we do it? How do we get to the point where we are at our best and helping our partners be their best as well?

Here are a few tips:

1. Always tell your partner when he/she is doing something that is making you happy. Most of us make it a habit to tell our partners when they are doing something we are not pleased with, in hopes that they will learn from this information and stop doing that thing. This isn't usually the outcome though, is it? In fact, we end up learning a lot of information about what makes our partners upset and a greater sense of negativity hovering around the subject. The opposite is also true. When we make it a habit of telling our partners when we are pleased with them, they learn a lot about what makes us happy and begin to associate positive feelings with these desirable behaviors. This allows for a relationship to be built on assets instead of deficits.


2. Invite your partner to inform you when you are doing something that is pleasing to them. Similar to above, this allows for the conversation between two partners to be built on pleasant information instead the usual deficit conversations. The simple truth is it is easier to repeat a pleasurable behavior than it is to stop an unpleasant behavior. So, it makes more sense to create opportunities for have conversations about what we are doing well instead of doing what most people do, discuss the opposite.

3. Discuss how these changes are impacting the relationship and each other's lives. Periodically it is important to consistently review if the relationship is moving in the direction that both parties would like and to set new relationship goals. Think about it, corporations do it at board meetings. They review how the previous year (or quarter) has gone for the corporation and what they would like to get accomplished in the future. We should also do this in our relationships. Talk about what is working well for each partner in the recent past and what needs to happen in the future to keep the relationship moving in the proper direction. Soul Mates: 10 Steps To A Spiritual Relationship


—Elliott E. Connie

4. Get what you want from your partner by NOT telling him/her how you feel. When I went to therapy as an adult, one of the best things I got out of it was that my therapist taught me three things: how to get in touch with my feelings, how to own my feelings and how to express my feelings. I was very proud of mastering the ability to do all three. I especially liked telling my partners how I felt when they upset me. This master skill turned out to be a great formula for short-term relationships.

My therapist never focused on the fact that just because I could now express my feelings that it didn’t mean that my partner would welcome that expression of those feelings. In fact that expression was downright unwelcomed. When I was dating, my "great communication skills" usually lead to the untimely death of that relationship.

Now, as a trained relationship-saving marriage counselor, here’s what I teach my clients to do with their upset feelings: Don’t stuff them, don’t express them to your partner AND don’t deny them. Well, what's left?


Here’s what to do instead:

I. When your partner triggers negative feelings in you, give yourself a time out. If you can’t think of what to say, just say, "I need to take a bathroom break." Remember, it’s not wrong to communicate when you are in negative emotional state. It’s just guaranteed to make things worse between the two of you.

II. When you’re calm, resume contact with your partner and rather than telling them what they did wrong do "positive alternative communication." In other words, with all positive language ask for what you want instead. Positive language is not about ignoring the negative emotion you felt. It just is much more likely to get you the positive responses and change in behavior you’d like to get from your partner--so you don't have to feel that negative emotion again. The Secret To A Happy Marriage?

For example, rather than saying "You're such a jerk. You're so rude and disrespectful to me. When I’m talk to you you’re always texting one of your friends…" Vs. "It's really important to me that when you and I are spending time together that we both turn our phones off and give each other our full attention. Would you be willing to do that?"


You can't have it both ways in the same conversation. You can either get things off your chest, which will most likely to cause your partner to withdraw from you, defend his/her position or verbally attack you OR you can use "positive alternative communication" when you're calm and have a much better chance of getting what you want from them.

Fred Talisman, Counselor/Therapist

5. Make sure you are willing to receive. Once, I traveled by car with a beautiful colleague, a former flight attendant. Passing through towns, she said: "My ex gave me two lamps like those in that store." "My first boyfriend gave me a dog like that." I finally asked her: "How do you have so many of the things you want given to you by men? Is it just because you're so beautiful?"

"No," she responded. "I know that a man I am with is going to want to give me things, so I just tell him what I want; and he gives it to me!"


"I believe I burden a man by expecting him to give to me," I almost shouted.

"Don't you like to give to people? Wouldn't you prefer to give them something you know they want?" Most people do!

Thenceforth, I changed my beliefs and actions. I still refuse to view a date or partner as a "gift-giving machine," yet I have opened my mind to receive what someone wants to give me. I have appended the old adage that it is "better to give than to receive." I now receive because I know it allows another person to give, while simultaneously feeling good to me.


We all love to get what we want in our relationships, whether "things" or "attention and acts of love." What I now know is that my friend was enthusiastic about receiving. The principle is "enthusiasm draws." Her enthusiasm for the gift and the giver encouraged giving. She also gave a lot.

Ilene Dillon, Counselor/Therapist