This week I’ve decided to do a series on an uncomfortable topic: HAVING NEEDS. It’s a topic I am confronting in my relationship—so I thought, let’s do this together.
First things first: the difference between needs and wants.
One of my teachers—whom I never met but have been greatly influenced by, Thomas Leonard—said the difference between needs and wants is that needs MUST be met in order for us to function.
He says that if something is a true need, it’s our duty to get it met come hell or high water. It’s not optional. We can’t function with out it. A true unmet need will rattle around at the back of our brain year after year until it drives us crazy. It doesn’t matter what the need is. Your need may seem “unreasonable” to someone else—or even to yourself! Maybe you need lots of personal space, maybe you need reassurance, maybe you need a Lamborghini. Whether it’s “reasonable” or not is irrelevant. Not fighting what you need and pretending you can happily live without it. If it’s a need, you can’t happily live without it. If it’s a need, it’s your job to get it met. Period.
I run into this problem often with my clients: they confuse what they want and what they need.
A client recently came to me and said: “I’ve asked my over and over again for (insert your relationship complaint here—to do the dishes, to give me more attention, for more sex)—and he does nothing about it.” Many of us can relate, right?
The problem in this scenario isn’t that your partner is a doofus who doesn’t listen to you. The problem is you’re treating your needs like wants. Wants are optional, needs are not.
Having needs and getting them met takes admirable vulnerability. First, we must admit that we can not live without something. Second, if we are in partnership, we often must get help from our partners in order to have our needs met. Third, we risk losing everything. Since needs are not optional, and we can not be happily functioning with out them met, we must get them met at whatever cost—even if that means making some difficult choices like leaving relationships, changing jobs, or otherwise rearranging our lives.
Some of you might be thinking: “Gosh, that seems extreme. Plus, isn’t that selfish? What about compromise in relationships?”
Y’all know I don’t believe in compromise, because I am committed to win-win solutions for everyone, and compromise is either win-lose or lose-lose. And as far as selfish goes… you tell me what’s worse for you: getting your needs met so you can live optimally and have truly thriving relationships, or stifling your needs, not taking responsibility for your happiness, and showing up half-way for all your relationships?
Here’s what I’m up to today: what’s a true need that I’m treating like a want? And how could I take the first step towards getting it met?
Read the whole Need series:
Advocate for women's sexual fulfillment