Why Neediness is Bad for Your Relationship
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PHIL: We’ve written before about how we each feel complete, and being together adds to us. This is in contrast to having a sense of neediness and wanting a partner to complete you.
But in returning to this subject, I am finding it hard to elaborate on because I still have wants and needs that Maude supplies. Companionship, sex and practical support immediately come to mind, so what are the differences between my present state and that of neediness?
One is that of economic self-sufficiency – the feeling that I can survive in the world without help. I don’t intend to suggest that the only alternative is a sugar-daddy (or momma); it’s more the sense of autonomy that comes with financial independence.
But by far the greater is a sense of loss, of loneliness, of emptiness that can only be fulfilled by someone else, and the heady sensation of falling in love is like having all these needs filled to overflowing. Yet that fountain dries up over time, leaving life as before. I speak personally from multiple experiences, though it may be different for you.
Like a rocket launch, that initial boost may launch you into orbit or leave you crashing back to earth, dragged down by a sense of incompleteness. I surmise that this comes from the loss or lack of family support as people leave the family nest and learn to make their way in the world alone.
To release that sense of neediness requires a secure sense of self – the feeling that I am who I am, no matter what storms blow through the world. I don’t want to make myself out to be an enlightened guru, sitting still at the center through everything. I suffer. I grieve. I rage at politics. But there is a center to which I return, and that is the place that you, too, must find within yourself.
The absence of expectations is the ground upon which our practice of total acceptance rests. To phrase it like that is to offer a very sterile portrait of independence. Of course, we both have expectations of how the other will behave, based on our core values, marriage vows and the companionship, sex and practical support previously mentioned. But these are all freely given; they are gifts we receive, not rights we are owed. In this way, we add to each other.We each feel complete in ourselves in contrast to needing a partner to feel complete Click To Tweet
MAUDE: In order to have a conflict-free peaceful relationship it is necessary to practice total acceptance. This must be predicated on shared core values, and must not involve any form of abuse or exercise of dominating power.
To be able to know your core values and to ascertain whether or not your partner matches those requires spending time getting to know yourself and understanding your triggers and responses. In this aspect of self-learning, you are investigating yourself in terms of relationship and observing what is occurring within you when you are interacting intimately. This is an ongoing process that contains both shared and solitary aspects.
Phil and I practice this form of total acceptance. We know that we share our deepest values, and at the same time, we are keenly aware that each of us is unique and that we both express these principles in different ways. One aspect that is very much the same however, is that each of us feels whole and complete within ourselves. Neither of us is looking for the other to fill a void or supply something we find missing inside.
We are indeed enriched by each other. I marvel constantly at who Phil is and I find his unique perspective on how to live his values often inspirational, surprising and exciting.
The kind of neediness that arises when a person does not feel whole in themselves is absent in our relationship and would prevent the type of active sharing we practice. This is not to say that we don’t both gain much from our shared life together, or that we would be just as happy without each other.
We are together by choice, a choice that is made from a place of joy in the possibilities, rather than out of fear of being alone or loneliness. I believe that if such fears are motivators for your relationship, they will prove to be blocks to further growth and will eventually lead to distance and alienation.
Being together can indeed make you more, but not by filling you up with what you think you don’t have. It grows your world by giving you a direct experience that difference is not a threat, and can offer you whole new vistas of perception.
If you love yourself, you will be able to believe that your partner loves you too!
Photo credit: Phil Mayes
Your blog offered great and practical wisdom (as always). I hear so many friends, especially younger women, who focus on how cute a guy is, his financial power, and his prestige in the workplace. But it’s really shared values that make for a harmonious life together, and without that it’s hard to have a satisfying connection with someone.
I think your comment is quite wise and it can be applied to all relationships!
Dear Phil and Maude,
Wonderful post today.
Autonomy is undervalued. It makes such a difference in a person’s life.