What happens when the Unstoppable Force meets the Immovable Object?

What happens when you find yourself thigh deep in a User Manual Death Match?

We’ve all been there. You desire something from your partner. Be it a switch to gluten-free, hiring a maid, a new car, another kid, oily buttplay.

But your partner is repulsed and has zero interest. Indulging that desire would strike them at their core.


Maybe you THINK your partner would repulsed by your request. Since you don’t want to make them uncomfortable and/or humiliate yourself with a rejection, you don’t ask in the first place. Or maybe you want to avoid what could turn into emotional fireworks or quid pro quo.

Sadly, this could be a core need that really should go in your User Manual. Facing a firestorm in your head, you could easily leave it out, and leave a desire or need unaddressed. You settle, repress, agonize, burn. And now your User Manual isn’t true–and will probably fall short.

I went to a fabulous talk last week held by Learn to Love guru Zack Beach on Asking for What You Want. The featured speaker was Marcia Baczynski, who dispensed wisdom over the crowd from a throne of leather–really quite awesome–and tackled this conundrum head-on.

A key idea from Marcia is our partner usually has a sizeable zone of “whole-hearted willingness” that falls between perfectly matching our partner’s desires and going off the precipice of tolerance into rejection. Most of us want to give our partner a good shot at being happy and getting what they need. Also, we want relationships where our partner feels comfortable enough to ask for what they want–that’s the essence of knowing someone, of creating intimacy.

So much of it is how we ask.

Instead of declaring “I want us to go gluten-free” or “I want oily buttplay,” work the phrasing to activate that whole-hearted willingness. “Would you be willing to go gluten-free?” can make magic happen.

Taking it a step further: as any good client manager knows (and I’m guilty of 13+ years of managing thorny PR/marketing clients), new ideas can be risky, but trials and test are street-savvy experimentation. “Would you be willing to try going gluten-free?” is an offer even a die-hard cake lover would find hard to refuse. From there, creativity and good faith can fix this divide and issue in a new era of scrumptious cupcakes and pie.

Asking the question also clarifies the importance of the issue. You can’t be willing to try having a kid — you either have one or you don’t.  If this is a fatal divide, at least you know now and don’t waste time.

Lastly – and this point feels quite brilliant – often we’re asking for something else with our requests…our requests are asking around it. A request for oily buttplay might really be a call for more sexual experimentation. Hiring a maid may be a call for more free time or maybe even a new job.

In short: Don’t sacrifice your desires for your partner — or your User Manual. Ask right and work out a way to co-create something smashing.

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