When we are dating to meet a partner and build a life together it is essential to know what YOUR needs and values are; and what your partner’s needs and values are.
Most of our needs and values are acquired as we grow up and reflect those of the people closest to us during that period. At some later time in life, mature, emotionally intelligent men and women start unwrapping the beliefs, attitudes and values that were held by their families and passed on to them as if they were the ultimate truth!
When you form a relationship, the compatibility of your needs and values will contribute to the strength of that relationship. So taking the time to sort out what your needs and values are from those passed down to you is essential work to do before you jump head first into that daunting process we call dating or wonder where to go to meet Mr. I hope you are the right one this time!
So let’s be clear: We all have needs, and our needs are legitimate. The problem, though, is that many of us may confuse the concept of neediness, something very different, with having real and legitimate needs that can be reasonably met!
Discover your needs
Here are a few things to think about that might help you to understand the concept of personal needs and values from another viewpoint. You might find it helpful to take a sheet of paper and pencil out and jot down your responses to a few questions:
Do you have a need forâ€¦ Intimacy? Achievement? Results? Companionship?
Consider your own needs for a momentâ€¦ do you know what your needs are? Remember, this is something you are doing for yourself, so be honest! Make a list right now of at least 10 needs. Don’t judge them or yourself. Just write a list, very spontaneously, without over thinking or over analyzing anything.
When a need gets met you will likely feel soothed, glad, relieved, excited, accepted, loved, understood, valued or energized. When a need is not met you will very likely feel upset, angry, disappointed, frustrated, alienated or rejected.
Consider these four questions directly related to your needs:
- Can you think of a need (or two) that is being met right now or that has been met in the past?
- How do you feel when a need of yours gets met? Can you recall how you felt when one of your needs was not met?
- Did you notice that your needs are requirements of something or someone to change, or be different, better or more?
- Did you notice any concerns or beliefs that there isn’t anyone in your life who is able or willing to meet your needs? Think about what you noticed and how it made you feel.
If you have trouble identifying your needs, it is an indication you may not even be aware of your needs. You may not believe that it is okay for you to have any needs. You may be ashamed of having needs and sometimes even not allow yourself to have needs. Or you may have denied that you have needs for so long that a part of you isn’t letting you know.
Whatever your "good" reason, don’t worry, I can assure you that identifying your needs, becoming aware of how your needs can be met and having them met, is a very do-able process!
Would you be surprised to hear that when you have a legitimate need that you cannot meet yourself it is perfectly acceptable and in fact necessary, to ask others to support you in meeting that need? That’s right! We cannot meet all of our own needs. Men and women are not islands unto themselves; we are not totally or completely self-sufficient and self-reliant; AND we are NOT supposed to be.
The word we use to describe the healthy relationship structure that includes asking others to make a change so one of our needs can be met is interdependence. A relationship built on the concept of interdependence is one in which both partners are aware of their own needs; honor their own needs; honor their partner’s needs and hold a value for meeting their own needs when appropriate and asking their partner to change something so their need can be met too.
You may have needs that you haven’t acknowledged; like needing more order in your home or needing someone to let you know when he or she is going to be late. Can you meet that need yourself? No. You cannot. These are two good examples of legitimate needs that require someone else change something so that your (legitimate) need can be met.
Sometimes you can meet your own needâ€”but other times you need someone else to change something so your need can be met.
Once you have identified that it is up to another person, you’ll need to ask that person to make that change. This isn’t always easyâ€”especially if you think that the other person may be resistant to making that change; or may think you are controlling or over-bearing even thinking to ask them to make a change.
By living an authentic and fulfilled life you identify and honor your needs. Honoring your needs means you respect them and ensure that they are met. As I said earlier, you’ll find that you can meet some of your needs yourself; however, you cannot necessarily meet all of them. Some of your needs can, and must, be met by others. This means that you must have people around you who are able to meet your needs and whom you trust to do just that.
Do you compromise your values? Next week, find out what happens when you do.
Remember, only YOU can make it happen!