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The Perfect Serve

How good are you at giving a gift with absolutely no strings attached? Think about the last time you gave a gift… be honest with yourself: were you giving it 100% altruistically? Or was there a tiny part of you that wanted some kind of recognition for your gift – perhaps approval for your effort, or even a wish to store up goodwill for the future?

Particularly when it comes to intimacy – and especially when it comes to touch – there can be confusion about our motives for doing something for a partner.

Often it’s not so much ‘giving them a gift’, more ‘giving them a hint’: trying to communicate something we want them to do for us by disguising it as something we’re doing ‘for them’, in the hope that they’ll reciprocate.

By using the Wheel Of Consent tool, the intention of the action of giving is made clearer by choosing the word ‘Serve’.  If I am serving you, you are getting what you want.  Any pleasure I may get out of the exchange is purely incidental – the gift is for you, not me. Truly giving someone this kind of gift means learning to set aside your own desires in order to be fully of service to them.

Of course, this also means you need to be aware of what your own desire or need may be so that you can set it aside and serve cleanly. Otherwise you run the risk of taking under the guise of giving (learn more about Taking)

This kind of ‘conditional helping’ can lead to problems, as whatever we are offering may not actually be wanted by the other person. We may then feel offended if they refuse our offer, especially if they give no reason, or their reason is not one we consider valid (This video gives a comic but all too true take on how culturally unacceptable this can be).

Although, in this digital age, the anonymous valentine card may be a dying custom, it’s actually a nice example of altruistic giving. The very nature of it means that nothing can be expected in return. The card is all about giving pleasure to the recipient without any expectations.

So if you’re looking for a way to give your partner a gift that’s all about them – with no strings attached – why not try this simple exercise together.  You can make it as sweet or as sexy as you like – it works just as well cuddled up on the sofa as naked in the bedroom!


The ‘Service With A Smile’ Massage

  1. Ask your partner this question: “How would you like me to touch you for the next 3 minutes?”
  2. Set aside any response you hope for – just because you like stroking their hair, doesn’t mean they want that. And even if you think you know what they usually like, it may be that they want something different this time.
  3. Wait for an answer – even if it takes a while. Let them take all the time they need to feel into what they would really, truly like for themselves right now. Don’t make offers or suggestions but allow them the time and space for their request to be as authentic as it can be, without feeling pressured in any way.
  4. Honour your own boundaries. Make sure you can give what they request with a full heart. A gift is not a gift if it’s not something you feel comfortable giving.
  5. Give them exactly what they ask for and nothing else. It can be tempting, especially with someone we know well, to add ‘improvements’ for their benefit, but that just means we think we know what they want better than they do! Don’t try to be intuitive – if they haven’t asked for it, how do you know they want it?
  6. Keep checking in with them: don’t simply ask if what you’re doing is OK (they’ll probably just say ‘yes’, to please you, even if it’s not!). Instead ask how it could be even better – this will encourage them to really make sure they’re getting exactly what they want!
  7. Set a timer for 3 minutes, and when the time is up, gently take your hands off them. Although it might be tempting to carry on, it’s important to stick to this boundary because it lets you both know that the gift is complete, and there is no longer any expectation or obligation from either side.

And finally: remember this exchange is complete just as it is – there should be no need for your partner to offer you anything in return. But if you choose to make this a mutual exchange of gifts you could continue taking turns with this for as long as you like! As you get more comfortable with it, you can also experiment with timings – the gift could last 10 minutes, or 30, or 60… just as long as you can keep giving it with a full heart!


Serving is one of the 4 quadrants of the Wheel Of Consent. This is a simple, powerful tool which can help you navigate safe, consenting exchanges – essential for both intimacy and life.  Learn more about it works.

We are all born with the instinct to breathe, to move, and to make sound.

We are all born into a body, with a mind of our own, and a unique spirit.

Our ability to touch and be touched, both physically and emotionally, is what weaves all these parts of us together.

If you’d like to learn more tools to listen to, understand and communicate what your body needs, contact me

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