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Wayfinding In Love: Listening to What Is Emerging In Your Relationship

We find love. We commit to a single lover. And then…

Wayfinding While We’re Still Getting to Know Someone

Which way is this relationship going? Is this THE ONE? Do we still miss a former lover with a pain that grows, even as we are trying to move on with our new partner? How do we reconcile the things that might have been better with one or better with the other? Is it fair to compare apples of the past with apples in our hands? I don’t want to return to the old pain of old loves. And they still come up from time to time. I could suppress the urge to share this information with my current partner. Of course, there is DATA there. But is all data useful data?

Let me give two examples.

My Partner’s Former Lesbian Experience – First Example

I was in a relationship with a partner who liked to tease me with the fact that one of her previous partners had been a woman. Titillating yes, but it didn’t seem to add any useful information to the current relationship with me, a man. Or maybe it did in their mind. When we first met in person, after several very informative and explorative phone calls, she said something that I’ll never forget.

“My previous partner was a woman, so… If you ever wanted to explore that fantasy I could make that happen.”

The problem was, she was in no way prepared to share me with another woman or man. But we would not explore that information until several months into the relationship.

My Partner’s Former Lesbian Experience – Second Example

We were driving through a ritzy area in our town when she said, “I dated someone who lived right down that street.”

“Okay?” I responded.

“It only lasted about a year, it was a woman.”

“Um, yeah. Cool.”

I mean, what was she trying to get across to me? She had former lovers who were women? I already knew that. It was just conversation? Hm, bad choice of random tidbits. Did she want to make me a bit jealous because of her former lover’s awesome house in an awesome neighborhood?  What was her point? Did she have a point? Was she poking me? Was she pining for that past partnership with someone who could afford that big house on that cool street?

I’m still a bit curious about what her motivation was in delivering this little nugget of wisdom? My guess is that it was unconscious. Just a little thought that passed through her mind and dribbled out of her mouth. It was an odd moment. Maybe it was me who was feeling odd. Yes, I’m sure of that. I don’t even think she noticed my reaction.

What Information Do You Want To Share About Sex?

I don’t think we need to tell our partners everything about our past relationships. And what I’d suggest is to pay attention to what you are sharing and why you are sharing it. If you are getting something off your chest, well, be aware of that. If you are merely staying something random and it contains past romantic data, be aware that your partner may have a reaction. And finally, if you ARE wanting to add some element of your past relationships into your current relationships, be specific, be clear, and make sure you are aware of your ask. If your partner doesn’t get the hidden message, make it explicit. ASK FOR WHAT YOU WANT.

In this vein, I have a PDF packet I’ve been using in my coaching work that makes a great starting point for couples to explore some data about their wants and desires in the sexual partnership the two of you are co-creating. THE SEXUAL LOVESTYLES WORKSHEETS (PDF)

What are the things you’d like to try? What are the things you might try if your partner really wanted to do it? What are the things that are off-limits? Do you have any core needs? How about frequency? Are quickies okay? What about when one of you is tired? Sex is complex. We need to have more communication about sex in our relationships. Often, it’s easier to have these conversations out of the bedroom. If you can ask for what you want during sex, that’s awesome. I’m still working on this skill. When my partner says, “Feedback please,” it’s a challenge for me to respond. Why? Because I’m scared to ask for what I want? Because I’m afraid it will sound too far out? Because I’m shy?

What Information Do You Need to Share About Sex?

It is important that you get your DATA into your current relationship. Without asking for what you want, you will most likely not get it. And by going along with something that is distasteful or unwelcome, you will may gravely damage your intimacy. That is never a good thing.

Let’s be clear about our wants, needs, and “nope” activities.

When is the best time to talk about sex? What would make it easier to talk about? While having sex, can you and your partner maintain a less-serious attitude, be more playful about sex, where requests and suggestions are taken in context and shift the current pairing towards what both of you want? It’s not easy. But it’s harder if you don’t ask.

I Always Want More Data

But I don’t want extraneous data. I don’t miscellaneous data. I don’t need to hear about your “honeymoon” with your former female lover, unless there is something you’d like me to know about, or act on, based on this new information. The worksheet can help both partners get clarity on where they would like to go sexually. And any mismatches can be discussed.

In the first case of my partner sharing her desire or ability to hook me up with her and another woman, it was a flippant and flirty comment on a first date, meant to entice and draw me in. When we later, used the worksheets and discussed the “other woman” joining us. It was clear immediately that she was not interested in sharing me with ANY other man or woman. That ended the “lesbian teasing” entirely. And it was a good thing. It was a distraction. She was trying to get me excited in the opening 30-minutes of our first date. She was not really interested in having a ménage à trois.

Yes, I want more data, but only if it is relevant. Does this new information INFORM me or GUIDE me towards or away from something you’d like to introduce into our dataset? If your answer is YES, by all means, share away. If your answer is NO, consider why you are sharing it. What’s the point of telling me you’d love to make love in a mountain stream if you have no desire or intention of doing so.

Let’s be clear with each other about what we want, what we fantasize about, and what we do not want. Only with that data can we make better and more informed decisions about where to go in our partnership.

Resource: THE SEXUAL LOVESTYLES WORKSHEETS (PDF)

Namasté,

John McElhenney – life coach austin texas
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How I Can Help

I am a relationship coach and a dating coach. I coach women in 1 x 1 zoom or facetime calls. I work in monthly blocks (4 sessions). We establish a relationship. I become your wingman in navigating and sorting through the bullshit of dating and relationships. If you are here, you’ve probably already read some of my opinions. If we’re a fit, we will both know on our first call.

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