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  • Writer's pictureFiona Feeley

Need to be needed

Being deemed needy is one of the highest insults one can receive and almost considered a fate worse than death. We all clamber to prove our self-sufficiency and emotional composure yet having emotional needs is as natural as feeling hunger. As humans, emotional nourishment is as necessary as food and water. Our emotions are a key component in connection, understanding, intuition and living a purposeful, fulfilled life. And that includes all emotions. There seems to be a hierarchy where more positive emotions are deemed acceptable (think joy and love) and negative emotions are discouraged (anger, shame).

However, it is important to understand what needs you need to meet for yourself and what needs you can request in a relationship. When it comes to anything related to our self-worth, our validation should come from within. Creating self-awareness and acceptance helps us become confident in our identity and worth and is a journey that we must travel alone. Our partners can support us; however, it is not their job to do the work for us. Nor should we look to our relationships with others for motivation or inspiration. The moment we outsource our value system, our goals and our desires, they become more about our need for approval than a need for fulfillment.

However, no man, woman or child is without needs and it is essential that we learn to recognise what is a reasonable need, learn how to ask for that need to be met. Unmet needs very quickly grow into bitterness, resentment and contempt. Affection and communication break down and people begin to imagine a better life without the relationship and seeking solace in others.

Needs vary with the individual and you can never expect yours to be met if you are not even aware of what they are. Self-awareness is integral to understanding the level of emotional reassurance you require and it’s important to fully explore your own perspective before verbalising to another. However in every relationship, we can expect to feel appreciated, heard, seen and valued. A satisfying relationship allows us to be present with each other, to feel alive and filled with vitality. There should be a sense of mutual support, affection, sexual satisfaction, play and fun. An emotionally safe relationship provides feelings of connection, respect and appreciation. Creating a technology, distraction free environment to thoroughly enjoy and engage with each other is vital for creating a meaningful relationship and creates room for spontaneity, curiousity and creativity.

That being said, it is important we learn to ask for our needs to be met in a non-confrontational manner. It is important also to acknowledge that our partners may not have the ability initially to meet our needs, as they have never been shown how. Equally important is recognising that not all of our needs have to be met by the one person. Modern day relationships and living give rise to the impression that all needs are to be met within the relationship dynamic. The close-knit communities of the past that provided a support network for couples no longer exist. This over-reliance on our partners to meet all spiritual, emotional, mental and physical needs is detrimental to harmonic cohabitation.

Asking for needs to be met requires vulnerability. And although it may feel like you’re being burned alive putting yourself out there, it’s our vulnerability that makes us stronger. We feel autonomous and accomplished when we are able to assert what we need in a healthy manner and it paves the way for deeper connections with both ourselves and with others. It takes courage, builds character, resilience and increases self-worth and intimacy. Approach the topic when you are both in a calm place. Avoid using accusations, criticism or ultimatums. Never attack or belittle someone who has failed to meet your need for emotional support. People may be doing the best they know how. Explain the importance of emotional support over time; too many requests at once will just overwhelm. It’s important to remember that meeting needs is reciprocal; you need to give as much as you expect to get. There is always a possibility that there will be such a variance in your needs and abilities that the incompatibility will be too much to overcome. In such cases, a decision needs to be made if a future together is possible.

Learning to recognise and honour your needs and feel capable of expressing them healthily is essential for spiritual, mental and emotional wellbeing. If you have been feeling lost, frustrated or resentful in your relationship, take a step back. Weigh up what it is you need to see happen, take a deep breath and take the plunge. Any outcome is an improvement on living an unfulfilled life. Embrace your inner neediness with pride!

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