“Tell me what you are thinking about” a man said to his lover while they were deep in the throes of passion. She did. Then without saying a word, he got up, got dressed, and walked out the door. It was the beginning of the end for them.
Nancy Friday discovered, as many women do, it’s a high risk activity for a woman to reveal her desires, needs or fantasies to a man. One that first of all requires an absolute knowing on her part of the rightness of them, regardless of anyone’s opinion.
Also, a deep trust in the person she reveals them to. Along with a certainty that he won’t reject or shame her for them.
It’s often easier for a woman to share her body with a man than for her to tell him what she’d like him to do to it. To reveal what she’d love to experience or experiment with. Or even, what she’s thinking.
The craving for emotional safety is behind the reticence of many a woman in sharing her true needs and desires.
Sure, she may have no difficulty in telling you of those she’s sure you’d approve of. But the ones that might push your edges? That might involve asking you to do something she’s not sure you’d like to do, or something you might think is weird? Maybe not.
And whether it comes through a glance, a grimace, never mind a harsh word of admonishment, the slightest sign of disapproval can wound her to the core.
Every woman knows the stinging pain of shame and will do all she can to keep that at bay.
When a woman does take that leap into the unknown, into the revelation of her greatest vulnerability, she’s in essence saying “I’m trusting you to know me all the way through. Trusting that in showing you what’s most deep within me, you’ll love me even more for having the courage to trust you with my soul”.
Can any man have pretensions to nobility who wouldn’t hold that sacred?
Meanwhile, is this reserve around expression the exclusive domain of women? What about vice versa?
As a man, the moment you’re in touch with a desire, fantasy, or need, do you spontaneously share it? Trusting that even if it won’t be acted upon there’ll be no potentially negative consequences and life will go on as before?
Or do you weigh up the pros and cons before disclosing a desire, need or fantasy to your beloved? Especially one you think she may regard as edgy? Is there any hesitation, second thoughts?
Do you take time to analyse the possible or imagined consequences before uttering a word? Or muse on when she might be more amenable to your proposition, or how you could encourage her to become so?
Men who feel confident and as cool as a cucumber while revealing their true desires or fantasies are few and far between. Because there's a very real raw vulnerability in exposing oneself so. And once revealed there’s no putting them back in a box.
Veiled attempts at self-protection, or a man putting the fulfilment of his desire above the well-being of his partner or their relationship, may take the form of manipulative machinations. A common one being his proclamation that his desire or fantasy is something that would be good for her to experience. That she’d really enjoy it if she tried it. It’s pretty easy to spot couples engaged in this dynamic in a swingers club!
Questions often initiate a cascade of others that seek to be answered as part of the enquiry. Such as, in this case...
The answers to those questions are as individual as you are. And those are juicy questions worth diving into for yourself. As are these...
The bottom line is, when a relationship isn't a safe enough container to hold the revelation of desires, needs and fantasies, they remain unexpressed.
Can what’s unexpressed be understood?
Now if you want to open up a space for the expression of these, first explore how wide your own sexual bandwidth is. Especially…
(These are huge questions that absolutely apply to both men and women.)
If not, find a way to heal that for yourself, so that you can create a wide and loving space that can hold their expression.
Some time after her rejection experience, that’s what Friday did. Placing an ad in various newspapers and magazines which read:
FEMALE SEXUAL FANTASIES
wanted by serious female researcher. Anonymity guaranteed.
The letters she received became ‘My Secret Garden’ a compilation of real women’s sexual fantasies, first published in 1973.
The entire book is available free online at academia.edu through this link with no download or sign in required. (Just keep scrolling when you land on the page.)
The last word belongs to her...
“There were other lovers, and other fantasies. But I never introduced the two again. Until I met my husband. The thing about a good man is that he brings out the best in you, desires all of you, and in seeking out your essence, not only accepts all he finds, but settles for nothing less.”