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Requesting Sexual Attention From Your Partner

A Note From A Reader: "My partner and I have been together for 14 years. We both come from divorced hetro marriages. My problem is the lack of romance. His version of intimacy is “hey, I’ve got a hard on, you want to F#&K? For me that’s ok some of the time, but I want to be seduced and romanced. The sex that follows is amazing, yet he tells me he doesn’t know how???? Are you kidding me? after 14 years?? Please help me!"

Dear Kind Reader, thanks for posting this; you’re not alone and many would benefit from the answer to your question.

Everyone has different styles for requesting sexual attention. Some are more direct, others like to get into the mood through seduction. These are largely ‘traits’, like introversion and extroversion, and are not inherently bad or good. I would also argue that those traits are stable over the lifespan, relatively unchanging. Some researchers might feel otherwise.

My thought is that the two of you need to create space for both styles to exist some of the time. There needs to be more comfortable ways for each of you to ask for sexual attention and talk about sex, in general. In our couples counseling clinic in San Francisco, we sell an exercise for couples to accomplish this very task. The Gottman Institute ( has a great product called “Salsa Cards” which make bidding for sexual attention fun again. I think you’ll find that both of your styles are included in the cards, as well as about 200 other ideas for initiating sex.

If you have an iPhone, take a look at the Salsa Cards and other card decks available as downloadable apps from The Gottman Institute. John and Julie Gottman have created some really wonderful ways for gay and straight couples alike to reconnect.

Give it a try!

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