Which one of these scenarios best describes you as a lover?

We’ll use scratching your partner’s back for pleasure to help us illustrate.

Scenario One: The “good boy” asks, “So, uh, where do you want me to scratch your back, babe?” She has an itch and then directs him with orders.

“A little to the left. A little to the right. Down. Down more. That’s it!”

He follows the orders. She’s satisfied. Mission accomplished. Very predictable. Very safe.

This is a good approach for simple things like a back scratch. But left unchecked it will suck the life out of a relationship.

Which brings us to Scenario 2: Where we go from following orders to giving a gift.

Let’s imagine the two of you don’t speak the same language. Her orders can not be understood. What can you do?

You pay full attention. You get curious. You notice how your touch actually impacts her vs what she says.

“When I touch her here, does she get goosebumps? Does she giggle? Shiver? Contract? Relax? Moan? Does she arch her back and bite her bottom lip?”

You see, the “good boy” will settle for doing his duty. He’ll throw the burden on his partner to assume authority and bark out the orders. After all, he just wants her to be happy, right? He has no idea this exhausts her.

The “good boy” will say things like, “Whatever you want tonight, babe — Olive Garden it is.” But he’s not really paying attention. He’s not really curious. Otherwise he would’ve noticed her shoes. Those are not Olive Garden shoes.

Even though it’s much safer for her to remain independent and “take care of it herself,” a brave woman will be vulnerable. She’ll be accessible, expressive. She’ll reveal how she is impacted.  These signals are not to be ignored — even if they seem to betray her orders.

Because what she really wants — what we all really want — is the unsolicited gift. That’s why it’s a gift. It wasn’t ordered, it wasn’t part of your duty or obligation.

A gift is most valuable when it demonstrates that you’re really paying attention. It’s the gift that says, “Yeah, I didn’t have to, but I sure as hell wanted to.”

The gift is not the dinner or whatever is in the box with a bow. The gift — for her — is knowing that you’re really tracking her. The gift is your attention and curiosity and care and desire.

For a strong woman — a woman strong enough to share control — this is a relief. She gets to let go of the burden described above. She gets to trust. She gets to relax. She gets to receive.

A woman who values her time and energy will grow bored with the “good boy” who predictably follows her orders. But the game stays fresh with a man that pays attention to her and her signals. There’s spontaneity and variety for both partners when they are connected and curious.

This is challenging stuff. I screw up and miss the signals left and right. It’s humbling. That said, taking the time and energy and focus to make these shifts can be incredibly rewarding. It can breathe new life into a tired relationship.

Good luck and have fun.