Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Asking For What I Want

I hit a snag when writing a good morning email to Bick. Brought me to a dead halt, in fact. It was a simple thing, but one that proved to be difficult for me to do. Ask for what I want. Very simple, right? Apparently not for me.

It's one of my character deficiencies that I need to work on. I'd made up my mind during this "relationship reboot" or whateverthehellitis, that I would be more direct and ask for what I want. No more secretly having a set of expections "if he loved me, he would know how much I want this" and then being resentful if they are not met. No more expecting him or anyone, for that matter, to be a mindreader.

No more couching requests so subtly in words that one would have to be a forensic wordsmith to catch my true meaning. I will be clear and straightforward and, here's the real kicker, vulnerable. What if he says "no"? Well, I can deal with that if and when the time comes. And at that point, I can evaluate facts rather than supositions and unmentioned expectations. It will be more fair to him and to everyone around me if I can be honest. And that's what it really is, being honest and acting with integrity.

Part of having codependent character traits is that I am (or at least I think I am) spectacular at anticipating others' every need. And it turns out, I expect that same type of behavior from others. How twisted is that? While I am getting much better at letting others own their own stuff, there is still this part of me with these secret expectations. It's time to get it all out there - straightforward and direct.

How can I ever get what I want if I am unwilling to ask for it?

I did not ride last night and I have no real excuse other than pure laziness. I did, however, fix myself a wonderful dinner of oven roasted okra with Indian spices and a lovely piece of cod. I wrapped the cod in a foil packet, added some sliced garlic, fresh herbs, pepper and a drizzle of olive oil. It was wonderful. I haven't had cod in a long time. Of course, I prefer it fried as fish and chips, but it was still super yummy last night.

Insurance adjuster cannot make it until August 18, which actually works out fine with me due to vacation.

Can you come flat out and ask for what you want? How do you respond when the answer is "No"? Is it the want versus need question? I find it easier to ask for a need than "just" a want.

Take good care of yourself. Be kind to others. Ask for what you want.



  1. Hi Roxie, Please go read this post on metafilter:

    It's about what it is to be "an ask person" versus "guess person". It really is a brilliant observation about this topic. I have to go reread it myself every few months when I'm peeved that someone isn't meeting my completely unvoiced needs.

  2. @Christine - Thanks for that - yep, that's it in a nutshell. I'm reposting the important parts - which I'm glad I finally got to, as I thought YOU were telling me I was rude for asking - via the comments of the others on the metafilter thread :-)

    This is a classic case of Ask Culture meets Guess Culture.

    In some families, you grow up with the expectation that it's OK to ask for anything at all, but you gotta realize you might get no for an answer. This is Ask Culture.

    In Guess Culture, you avoid putting a request into words unless you're pretty sure the answer will be yes. Guess Culture depends on a tight net of shared expectations. A key skill is putting out delicate feelers. If you do this with enough subtlety, you won't even have to make the request directly; you'll get an offer. Even then, the offer may be genuine or pro forma; it takes yet more skill and delicacy to discern whether you should accept.

    All kinds of problems spring up around the edges. If you're a Guess Culture person -- and you obviously are -- then unwelcome requests from Ask Culture people seem presumptuous and out of line, and you're likely to feel angry, uncomfortable, and manipulated.

    If you're an Ask Culture person, Guess Culture behavior can seem incomprehensible, inconsistent, and rife with passive aggression.

    Obviously she's an Ask and you're a Guess. (I'm a Guess too. Let me tell you, it's great for, say, reading nuanced and subtle novels; not so great for, say, dating and getting raises.)

    Thing is, Guess behaviors only work among a subset of other Guess people -- ones who share a fairly specific set of expectations and signalling techniques. The farther you get from your own family and friends and subculture, the more you'll have to embrace Ask behavior. Otherwise you'll spend your life in a cloud of mild outrage at (pace Moomin fans) the Cluelessness of Everyone.

    As you read through the responses to this question, you can easily see who the Guess and the Ask commenters are. It's an interesting exercise.

  3. I have a hard time asking...I drop hints, why don't people pick up on them?!? ;) However, with a couple of newer relationships, I am trying to be more direct. We'll see how this pans out.

  4. Oh no! Not a criticism at all. I'm the reigning (raging?) queen of Guess Culture. When I read that post, I thought that's me in all my guess-culture glory.

    We can learn to be askers. We can.

  5. I'm as direct as they come. In fact, people who can't be often come to me and ask that I be direct on their behalf.

    What do you need Roxie, I'll ask!

  6. Great stuff, Roxie. Really excellent, and I loved your description of your "codage" of hint dropping that would require a "forensic wordsmith" to decipher. You perfectly described mindset of anticipating and meeting others' needs at which you're proficient (me too) and then expecting nothing less from them.

    Okra is enjoying a big presence in the blogs these days! I haven't yet tried the oven roasting, but plan to this weekend.

  7. Oooh. Ouch. This hit me where I live.

    Thank you. :)

  8. In reading your description of having expectations of others, resulting in a "mindreader" situation describes me to a tee!!

    I too, have worked on this and have learned to "ask" for what I need, want, etc., to a degree. The biggest problem I find is that I continue to want others to be happy (even at my own expense) I tend to not even KNOW (or admit)what I want. It's just easier for me to let others get their way then me force my way. Unless of course it's something I feel very strongly about, then I can and will fight for it. Sort of a mixed bag I guess...

  9. "How can I ever get what I want if I am unwilling to ask for it?"


    I actually am the opposite of you. I am more direct with asking when I want something rather than when I need something. I have trouble exposing the 'need' part as it makes me feel vulnerable.

  10. Im an asker.
    Raised by a woman who did (and does. lordy shes coming to visit next week. heres hoping I get the power of mind-reading between now and then) expect us to be able to read her mind, proffer what she wanted, and got pissy when we could not.

    Im an asker.

    that said its taken me 30some years to realize that I ask, peeps oft say NO, and I need to not get miffed but move on.

    just because I asked doesnt mean Ill get a yes.

  11. I am an asker too! But I am also codependant so what does that say. Hmmmm good food for thought.


We'll try this for a while.