I've been with a really great guy for about a month and a half. He's so good to me: very sweet, charming, hot and all that. I'm not usually shy, but before him I was in a not-so-great relationship where our sex was infrequent and somewhat fraught, and I feel like it's affecting my current one. I'm finding that I have difficulty asking for what I want in bed now. It's not that what my guy is doing is wrong or anything, I just sometimes can't speak when he asks me what I want. This is frustrating for both of us. How do I get over it and get back to my usual confident self?
One time I was on a flight to Hong Kong and ran out of water. Everyone was asleep, and instead of pushing the button for the flight attendant, whom I didn't want to inconvenience, even though it was her job to be inconvenienced, I simply went without.
I rationalized this by telling myself that I probably wouldn't die from dehydration in six hours. And I didn't, but I was pretty miserable for the rest of that flight. I'm telling you this ridiculous story not because your needs are as trivial as pushing a button (they aren't), but to illustrate that when we don't ask for what we want, all we're doing is hurting and frustrating ourselves. Often needlessly.
I'd guess, as you also surmise, that your last relationship left a bitter taste in your mouth and made you feel insecure. That's understandable. But remember that this current fella is not the previous one. The beauty of new relationships is that you get a clean slate, but it also means you have to learn a new lover from scratch, and that takes time and effort. (But both are fun because it's sex! Yay!)
If you're freezing up in the moment, try taking the conversation out of the bedroom. When the space is neutralized, you might find it much easier to be direct.
Hell, you can even text or email your desires, which doubles as foreplay. "I was just thinking about the other night when you VERBED my NOUN. That was so hot."
I've also found it helpful to write my needs down on paper, partially so I will recall them more easily when I need to, but also because it forces me to think about and articulate what I want. Get comfortable asking for things in nonsexual situations. Even if your timidity is restricted to the bedroom, take a moment once a day to ask for something you want. The more you practice assertiveness, the easier it becomes.
Research has shown that we wildly underestimate just how willing people are to help us. Your boyfriend wants to please you. Open yourself to the possibility of being vulnerable with someone you trust, even though it's scary. You might not always get what you want, but you definitely never will if you don't ask. You got this. Get 'im, girl.
Want to ask Anna an anonymous question about love, sex or dating? Email your quandary to firstname.lastname@example.org.