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Trying to “get your needs met” is a recipe for frustration, anger, disappointing relationships, and unnecessary strife. Yes, we all have needs, but starting a conversation with “my needs are not being met” is liable to go to the dark side. It is a euphemism for “I find you very disappointing, and I may have to replace you with a different product because I do not see you as a separate person, but as a TOOL which is supposed to meet my needs, which by the way are a moving target even I cannot keep up with. Since I have needs, and I have been told to communicate clearly, this gives me a license to be demanding and angry. I deserve to have all my needs met. So, if I need to have sex 3 times a day, you had better comply.  If I need you to listen to me obsess for 4 hours a day, you had better comply. Otherwise, I won’t be getting my needs met, and I may have to get rid of you and find someone who will do exactly what I want.”

This must stop. We are not toddlers and our spouse/partner is not CAPABLE of meeting all our needs. Sometimes they are not capable of meeting any of our needs, it seems. Shall we just get rid of them? Well, at least they are compostable. We won’t be adding to the landfill, or polluting the oceans. 

But Lynn, aren’t we supposed to be honest and let the other person know what our needs are instead of hoping (s)he will figure it out, and becoming resentful when that doesn’t happen? If you must.  But please remember that becoming vulnerable, and sharing a need with that special someone does not obligate him/her to fulfill it.  When someone has to do what you ask, that is not a relationship.  That is slavery.

I don’t mean to be offensive, or to make your pain any worse. I am trying to help you by giving you a new way to think about things.  If whining about not getting your needs met actually worked, it would have worked by now. Here’s another thought that may help you: If your partner hears you out, and understands that you have a very important need, and does not do as you ask, it doesn’t necessarily mean (s)he doesn’t care. (S)he may not be able to meet that need. You don’t need to believe (s)he doesn’t love you and/or doesn’t care.

So, where does that leave us? If we were completely self-sufficient, we would not have to endure the pain of relationships.  Start here: You decide that your needs are valid. You do not have to have anyone else give you permission or even understand your needs. You understand, and that is enough. The other person may never understand. You are important and your needs are important.  However, this relationship is not all about you. The primary purpose of this relationship is not to solve all your problems and heal all your wounds. In fact, it will probably dish out more problems and more wounds. So what do you do? 

  1. Realize you are stronger than you think you are.
  2. Understand that your needs do not get to be the boss of you. It is not your partner’s job to meet all of your needs, and it’s not your job either.
  3. Decide not to be afraid of your needs, but to see them as a clue into the mystery of you. Part of your job on this earth is to get to know yourself. Your needs can help you do that.

You are in charge of your needs. Your needs are not in charge of you. I think one reason we may run to our partner to help us meet our needs is because we are afraid of them, and they seem so overwhelming. Be curious about yourself. Be curious about your needs. Dig into them and see what they have to tell you. Build your muscle by not giving into your needs right away. Have a conversation with your needs. Be kind but firm. Not every need is as urgent as it would have you believe.