The Secret Ingredient for Great Relationships Isn’t What You Think

October 2, 2019

  minute rEAD

Most men I’ve worked with have received two pretty awful sets of advice about how to get partners for dating, sex, and relationships.

The first type of terrible advice usually comes from mom. She means well and wants you to be happy. She sees you’re struggling and wants to help.

So mom gives you advice like this:

“Don’t be selfish.” 

“Just be nice and put others first.”

“Be helpful, do nice things for her, bring her flowers.”

“Just be yourself and they can’t help but love you.”

So, while #NotAllMoms, I’ve seen this enough to know how common it is. 

The mom approach to dating, sex, and relationships is self-sacrifice. Defer to what others want, always.

The second type of terrible advice comes from the Internet. You find it on pickup artist forums and manosphere blogs.

The men (and some women) sharing this advice paint a picture of a world where you are nothing special. There’s a natural order, a hierarchy, and men who are the most alpha are the ones who get the rewards.

Their advice sounds like:

“Use negs because she will be motivated to seek your validation.”

“You have to control the frame.”

“Target low-self esteem (LSE) women and dole out validation, but sporadically. This keeps her wanting more.”

“Use kino escalation to tap into her primordial brain and generate sexual arousal before she has a chance to think too much about it.”

You can summarize this approach to dating, sex, and relationship as dominance. It’s forcing on others what you prefer, always.

Both self-sacrifice and dominance contain nuggets of insight about how to go about showing up in your relationships, though neither get near the powerful truth of working with your honest desire. 

There is another way. You can show up led by the question “What do I Want?” Desire is more simple and more vulnerable than a binary of self-sacrifice and dominance. 

Self-sacrifice and dominance are similar approaches to relating with others, just on opposite sides of the spectrum. Fundamentally, both are strategies to get what you want by manipulating others.

When you defer to others, when you always seek to make others happy regardless of your own needs, when you try showering others with niceness in the unspoken hope that these actions will make them want you, you are being manipulative.

When you try to control the conversation, when you subtly put someone down and deliberately seek to lower self-esteem, when you use touch as a tactic rather than a form of genuine communication with the overt and calculated hope that these actions will make them want you, you are being manipulative.

Your honest desire, on the other hand, is not a question of self-sacrifice or dominance: it’s a question of self-awareness and a question of true courage. Are you brave enough be in touch with your desire and ask for it in the full knowledge that “No” is an acceptable answer?

Can’t you see how clearly your sense of worthiness is connected to your ability to express desire? Sometimes, self-sacrifice or dominance feel safer when you don’t feel particularly good about yourself. 

The thing is, you do not become worthy through sacrifice, nor can you coerce worthiness from dominance.

The only pathway to worthiness is through the actions you take toward yourself every day.

Speaking your desire without any attachment to the outcome is approximately 1000 times harder than either self-sacrifice or dominance. 

And, speaking your desire with outcome independence is also approximately 1000 times more rewarding (and attractive) than self-sacrifice or dominance could ever be. 

Awareness of your desire and the courage to work with it at face value is incredibly powerful.

It’s not that self-sacrifice and dominance aren’t also forms of power. The thing is, these sources of power are external and outside of your control. Self-sacrifice and dominance are highly variable and unreliable. 

On the other hand, owning your worthiness and acting accordingly is powerful because THAT power is inside of you. It is FULLY within your control. 

And, no matter what happens to you in life, once you own your worthiness, no one can take it away.

About the Author

Sarah Martin, MA, CSC is CEO of Dignified Hedonist, a sexuality support company that guides introverted men to lead desire-led, sex-forward, and pleasure-focused lives. Sarah is the host of the Sexual Craftsmanship podcast, a weekly podcast packed full of actionable information and advice for sex and relationships in the 21st century. Sarah loves rainbows, books, and Pokemon Go.

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