You can want and you can need, but you can’t want and need at the same time
As long as you are focused on “getting your needs met” you will remain out of touch with the forces of desire (sexual and otherwise). You never really connect with what you WANT when you are preoccupied with what you NEED.
“I need you to be more considerate.”
“I need you to clean up.”
“I need you to touch me more.”
We default to the position of need in order to emphasize urgency and importance. The inner voice says “It’s not enough to have preferences and wants, you’ll have to express your NEED for something or it will remain out of reach.”
In fact, if we constantly default to the position of need, we never discover our desire. Many times this is no accident. Many people are frightened or mistrustful of desire, of wanting. They might advocate for their needs, but communicating their desires would be too much.
Wanting is harder than needing
Communicating desires rather than needs makes some people feel selfish or guilty. Additionally, a person who has oriented entirely around needs often has no idea what they actually desire, and they are afraid to face this fact: “I don’t know what I want.”
As I’ve suggested in a recent article, people in highly enmeshed relationships with co-dependent tendencies have difficulty connecting to their own desires because they are overly concerned with what is happening “over there” in their partner.
Facing the truth of what we want, of our desires, is fraught with obstacles. And then there is actually naming our desires, telling our partner what we want.
Making clear requests based on desire or want is quite different from making requests based on needs. Need-based requests sound like demands. They are necessary at times, but like antibiotics they lose their effectiveness when overused.
Need and want sound like they could be close neighbours, but they’re entirely different neighbourhoods. The two can not be at the fore simultaneously. We are connected to one at a time only, and if we’re used to locating ourselves in the place of need we will be strangers to the land of want.
To be clear, need and neediness are not avoidable in life and relationship, and they require their own kind of attention, but it’s important to also be able to discern between need and want, and to make room for wanting.
Today, try using desire-based language (“I want”) rather than need-based language, first in your own mind, and then with your partner. See what happens. Let me know how it goes.
All My Best,
To learn more about neediness and desire in relationships check out my book The Re-Connection Handbook for Couples (download a free sample chapter here).
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