I need you.
Get your needs met in a society that shames them.
The more time I spend in this world as a therapist and human, the more I realize how much relationships define us. And that’s not a bad thing, we are human. Since the dawn of time our survival has been linked to our relationships. Some of us are more impacted by relationships, or lack of relationships, than others. Some of us spend years trying to be happy with ourselves alone, before venturing into other relationships; while others of us prefer to bounce from close relationship to close relationship, to avoid being alone at all costs. None of these avenues is “wrong” or even necessarily unhealthy. Like almost everything else in life, it is simply based on balance and what makes you feel best. If you feel best when you are in a relationship, that is okay. And if you want to take care of your own stuff first and then attach to someone else later on, that is okay too.
Humans are social beings. Without social connections our sense of purpose in the world dwindles rapidly. There seems to be a growing stigma about “needing” people, but at the end of the day we all need people. It is okay to need, especially in your closest relationships. Couples don't magically stay happy together without ever communicating their needs to one another. Relationships are largely about figuring out how to get your needs met and how to help another person’s needs be met. Relationships last because two people have figured out how to feel good with one another, and that good feeling is often fueled by getting their needs met by one another. No, not basic needs like providing food and water for your sweetie. I am referring to social-emotional needs. Needs like feeling loved, respected, valued, cared for, special. And the way that we show these things to one another varies from person to person based on their unique needs and past experiences. One person may feel loved by being hugged, while another feels loved by hearing compliments. If you have read The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman, you know what I am talking about. I encourage you to read that book for more detailed guidance on feeling loved and giving love. Another great book is Attached by Amir Levine & Rachel Heller, which ventures more deeply into where your needs may come from and how to pick a partner that fits your needs best.
My point is this: Stop shaming yourself for having needs and start advocating for them to be fulfilled. It is absolutely human to have needs and it is absolutely okay to look to another person for help in getting those needs met. Your job IS to take responsibility for your needs, learn to verbalize them, and then fill your own cup or have someone help you. Your job is NOT to settle for someone who refuses to help meet your needs. Your job is to take care of yourself, even when that means you prefer to be with someone else. Part of caring for yourself is learning to vocalize when you need something from someone else. There are people who will gladly meet your needs and it will not be hard for them. I am looking at you, person reading this who is unhappy in your relationship because your partner makes you feel ‘needy’ for wanting to hold hands. I am looking at you, person who is unsure of how to feel love. Figure out your needs and make them known. Your wants and needs are not a burden. There is a person who can fit with your needs, and you can fit with theirs.
Disclaimer: If you feel that your needs may be unrealistic or you are stuck in a pattern of being disappointed by your relationships, then it's probably worth exploring through therapy. That'll give you a clearer sense of which needs you can work on independently and which you can lean on others to fulfill.