We all want stuff in our relationships. Better sex. More sex. To not have to take the trash out. 15 extra minutes in the morning for snuggles. Whatever.

Let’s assume you know what you want.

Why aren’t you asking for it?

If you’re like most people, There Be Monsters.

You know the ones:

  • The “Fear of Missing Out” Monster
  • The “What If I’m Not Good Enough” Monster
  • The “What If They Freak Out” Monster
  • The “I Can’t Ask For THAT” Monster
  • The “There’s Not Enough Time” Monster
  • The “They’re Just Going to Laugh At Me” Monster

and so on…

(That’s what they’re called if they are articulate monsters. More often, they’ll be all like “AAAGGGG!!!! WHAT ARE YOU DOING?!?! YOU CAN’T DO THAT!! IT WILL ALL BE NO GOOD NO GOOD NO GOOD!!!! DANGER DANGER!!!!!!!! BAD!!! AAAAGGGGGG!!!!!”)

Sound familiar?

The thing is, secretly, your monsters only want the best for you. They don’t respond well at all to being shut down or pushed aside. They want to be HEARD and unless you do, they’ll wreak havoc all over the place.

That’s why you have to learn how to talk to your monsters. Here’s how:

Step One: Introduce Yourself to Your Monster.

See, your Monster just wants to be seen. It’s there to protect you, so you might as well make friends with it. So often we either let the Monster run the show (because it’s Big and Scary and Loud) or we try to shove the Monster in the corner, which just makes it cranky (because Nobody puts Monster in the corner!) Start by being friendly with it.

(Pro tip: It can be helpful to assume that your Monster is very clever and about 4 years old.)

HOW: Take some quiet space where you have freedom to talk, imagine and make noise. (Your car, bedroom or journal might be ideal.) Now, say hi to your Monster. Let it know you hear it. Ask its name. Tell it what you already know about it. Be sure to be friendly to it! (Don’t piss your monster off right away.)

It might sound something like this:

Oh hi there Monster. Good to meet you. I’ve seen you around these parts lately, talking about how bad it would be if we got laughed at/ missed something / weren’t good enough. What’s your name?

WATCH OUT FOR: Your Monster might try to divert your attention from it by saying “This is all stupid and who believes in Monsters anyway?!” That’s okay. Just acknowledge your Monster’s point of view and ask for its name. Your Monster may be cranky or quiet too. However your Monster shows up is okay. It’s just doing its job.

Step Two: Ask Your Monster What It Wants for You.

This might be kind of tricky. Some monsters might seem like they don’t have anything they want for you, only things they want you NOT to do. A little curiosity goes a long way here.

HOW: Ask the Monster what its job is, what it wants to keep from happening and/or what it wants for you.

It might sound something like this:

So [Monster’s Name Here], what’s your job around here? I hear that Monsters like you are here to make sure everything’s running okay. What is it you’re in charge of? Do you have a thing that you’re here to keep from happening? Is there something you’re in charge of making sure happens?

WATCH OUT FOR: Garbled attacks that make no sense. If you get that, just be calm and patient. You might have a really freaked out Monster on your hands.

Step Three: Validate Your Monster’s Desires for You.

Monsters LOVE to know they’re doing good job, and they generally can’t relax until they know someone sees what they’re keeping an eye on. It’s time to give your Monster some solid props.

HOW: Acknowledge what your Monster is doing for you and how good they are at it. Point out that it’s been really successful at making sure that whatever bad thing it’s worried about doesn’t happen. Love up your Monster.

It might sound something like this:

Wow, you must be really good at (making sure there’s enough time/ making sure I don’t fail/ making sure I’m loved / keeping me from being embarrassed / keeping me from missing out / etc). Oh, I get that you want to make sure that I’m okay. You’re doing such a good job keeping me safe.

WATCH OUT FOR: Monsters are sensitive to false praise or anything that tries to shut them down. Make sure your acknowledgments are genuine!

Step Four: Negotiate With Your Monster.

The thing is, your Monster doesn’t always know that there may be a better way to do what it does. It just wants to know that it’s successful. But now that you’ve demonstrated to it that you know it can be successful, there might be room for negotiation.

HOW: Look for a win/win for you and your monster. Use “we” when talking to your Monster so it knows you’re in it with them.

It might sound like this:

What if we asked our Partner for more sex / different sex / to not have to take the trash out / (insert desire here) but before we did it, we made sure to ask for Partner not to laugh at us / make sure the calendar was cleared / ask Partner to be gentle with us / (fill in strategy for taking care of Monster here.)?

WATCH OUT FOR: Trying to pull one over on your Monster. Remember, it has a job to do, so if you don’t address its concerns in your proposal, your Monster is just going to flip out again. Your Monster might be wary at first. This is okay — remember it’s still doing its job.

Negotiating with your Monsters might take a few tries before you are able to get it to get with the program. Just remember, monsters don’t like to be forced into anything, especially as they take their jobs very, very seriously. You may have to be ridiculously sensible with it, or explore with them as though they might be right, or be very very gentle with your Monster. Don’t be alarmed if your Monster throws a temper-tantrum (Keep in mind, they’re usually 4 years old. It happens.) Sometimes Monsters just lie down and take a nap only to wake up cranky later. Stay in touch with your Monster and pay attention to its reactions to things. Listen to what it says to you. Eventually, you will find what works so that you can ask for more of what you want.

Monsters are good at keeping you safe, but their methods are often at odds with what you really want. Take the time to get to know them and you can work together to keep you both safe and trying new things!

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