Sex is a conversation between bodies but we often find it difficult to include our voice in the conversation. Most of us aren't mind readers and getting the pleasure you need can turn into a frustrating guessing game for your partner... unless you speak up. But saying "Mmmm I like how you feel but can you use more pressure with your tongue" can be difficult for many to say. It takes a level of assertiveness as well acknowledging that you deserve to ask for the pleasure you want. For those moments when you wish you would say "a little to the left", building your comfort with being assertive is a great place to start.
Building Your Assertiveness
In their book Sexual Confidence, Phillips and Judd suggest exercises to practice assertiveness to develop a sense of overall self-confidence.
Some assertive exercises include:
1. Accept all compliments without putting yourself down.
2. Express two opinions a day while gradually increasing the controversy of the subject.
3. Express one or two feelings to two or more people a day.
4. Say No or disagree at least twice a week to something you do not want to do.
5. Say Yes at least twice a week to something you would usually deny yourself
6. Ask a favor at least once a week.
Exercises that are more assertive include buying something and returning it, requesting a quiet table at a restaurant, and rehearsing with a friend to tell someone to move to the back of the line when they cut in front of you.
When starting, choose a some-what easy exercise to so you can feel successful. Work on one exercise for three weeks, or until it becomes easy, and then move on to exercises that are more challenging for you. Once you are more confident outside of the bedroom it will become easier inside the bedroom where you can ask for what you want, suggest new things, feel like you deserve pleasure, and to be receptive of your partner’s attempts at assertiveness.
When you feel comfortable it can also be helpful to include your partner in your adventure in building your assertiveness. Not only can you encourage your partner to practice being assertive but you can also share any victories in your exercises. It can be very affirming to here positive feedback from your partner when you say, “babe, today I told the gal at the coffee shop that she made me the wrong drink. How cool is that?”.
You Deserve Pleasure
Self-indulgent exercises are also important to help you feel more comfortable and deserving of pleasurable activities. Some examples include staying in bed an extra few minutes, enjoying putting on lotion, taking a day off, exercising, and taking a bubble bath. A common occurrence, however, when enjoying self-indulgent activities or even thinking about them are thoughts that pop up into our heads like "I don't deserve this" or "I shouldn't have that". We all deserve pleasure and such negative thoughts that enter our minds are detrimental to enjoying pleasure. Such thoughts also emerge when enjoying pleasure in the bedroom, such as thinking you don’t deserve to ask for what you want or that you shouldn't enjoy yourself. To help combat such negative thoughts you can explore the use of thought-stopping exercises where you consciously stop any negative thoughts, and then exchange them for more rewarding and pleasurable thoughts. A counselor can help you with learning and implementing these techniques.
Into the Bedroom
Once you feel good about enjoying pleasurable activities and about your assertiveness outside the bedroom, you will gradually become more comfortable practicing assertiveness inside the bedroom. Soon your ability to ask the waiter for more bread will turn into asking for more pressure, to slow it down, suggesting that tonight you just want to kiss, or to try a new sexual position. Just remember as you open up your assertiveness in the bedroom to also be aware of your receptiveness to what your partner has to say as well. It will be easier for your both to be assertive when what you both say isn’t criticized, rejected, or laughed at. Be patient with yourself as you practice assertiveness and being receptive to pleasure and soon your bedroom will be full of confident pleasure.