How to ask your partner for something, if you want it to happen!

How to ask your partner for something, if you want it to happen! is the first in a series of tips taken from our ‘Ideal Relationships’ workshops.

Today’s tip is from David’s workshop on the differences between men and women.



We talk about the ‘typical’ man or woman in ways that we and many others have found useful in understanding and improving their relationships. But always bear in mind: every person is a beautiful and unique individual, too wonderful and complex to be limited by any arbitrary categorisation. The world has many women that are ruthless, results focused business machines, and likewise many men that are great at colour coordinating soft furnishings. A man can be a sensitive and diplomatic communicator, a woman can enjoy a good fart joke. There are no rules, only guidelines…


Men are direct, women are indirect


In past times, it was a survival skill for men to make quick, clear requests while hunting or fighting, whereas women developed a more cooperative, nurturing style that avoided possible offense. Thousands of years’ later our society needs and beliefs may have changed, but the way our brains are wired is still catching up.


Women say ‘would you like to do X’ or ‘could you do X’ when they want you to do something. Another woman will correctly interpret this as a request and would probably be offended if they were asked more directly.


However, a man’s response (probably not voiced) would be ‘no’ and ‘yes’ respectively, and in both cases probably not result in any action. Likewise, a hint that ‘X needs to be done’ will probably get a grunt of agreement that X indeed does need to be done, but no agreement that the man being addressed is the one who should be doing it.


Women: say to a man ‘Please do X by time T’ He may still choose not to do it, but at least he will be clear what you wanted.


Men: when a women uses indirect language, either do it as if it were a direct request or at least probe for further instructions (and women, don’t take that as obtuse, he’s actually trying to be helpful).


Also men: women of course fully understand a direct request, but may find it a bit rude. Saying ‘make me a sandwich, woman’ will probably be less effective than ‘it would be great if you could make me one of your lovely sandwiches, darling, if you have a spare moment’. It takes longer to say, but you do get a tasty snack for your efforts – totally worth it!


Pictures by Leo Reynolds & Nataliej