We all have needs
Your partner will not be able to meet every single one of your needs, 100% of the time.
Our cultural love story has left us with the idea that somewhere out there is someone that will meet all of our needs; someone who is our perfect match and who will make us forget about all of our problems. This person is infamously named The One.
This social conditioning has led us to believe that all of our needs in a relationship should be met by one person and if they aren’t then something is wrong. The thing is, our early education on relationships is mostly fantasy based on media programming that is void of nuance, reality, and permission to be human! So the truth is, there isn’t one single person on this earth who is able to meet all of your needs 100% of the time.
I don’t want you to think that this is me saying that it is unreasonable to want and crave quality time, gifts, words of affirmation, acts of service and physical touch and that you shouldn’t expect to have your needs met! What I am saying is that it is important to remember that everyone is human, everyone has their own unique needs and challenges too. This is true no matter who you end up with! So the reality with this is that your needs aren’t always going to line up! But in the times when your needs don’t line up and your partner can’t give you what you need, it can be used as an opportunity to reach out past our primary relationship with our partner to our other connections or practice self-nurturance.
If you have needs such as wanting to experience diverse cultures by visiting art galleries for example, but your partner does not wish to engage in this experience with you, then use this as a relationship building experience with a friend or family member or even yourself. Moments of needs mismatch in relationships can be viewed as growing tools for other connections in our life. If you take on this perspective it lessens the pressure and expectations on your partner and the couple and also allows you to grow in other relationships!
When we first enter a relationship we can forget about our friendships. In that exciting beginning phase of love we tend to spend most of our time together, often neglecting the other connections in our lives that offer us unique value that you might not necessarily get from your partner. Expecting to be absolutely everything for each other is unreasonable, and to be honest, not all that balanced.
So how do we get around this? We enter a life of talking about and entering into healthy and conscious relationships with our partner and ourselves. This is a safe relationship that encourages us to be vulnerable, asking for what we need, and also, to recognise that things don’t always go our way. Now I know that when this happens and things aren’t going your way it can be a little scary. You might even think you should end your relationship! This is because there is very little reinforcement of the idea that our partner doesn’t need to be our everything. Hollywood has taught us that we should find The One, who will meet all our needs all the time.
As relationship and sex therapist, Esther Perel says, “you are asking one person to give you what an entire village used to provide.” When we enter a relationship we are agreeing to try our very best to meet our partner’s needs. But this doesn’t mean we have to meet every single one! So figure out with your partner what needs you require for them to meet and then for the rest learn to turn to the other people in “your village.”
Another way to manage a needs mismatch is by learning how to regulate your emotions with your partner’s help when they cannot meet your needs. This is a chance to allow your partner to truly get to know you, what upsets you and how to best handle you and help resolve your feelings. If you are with the right partner it won’t be about them meeting all of your needs but about the two of you still loving each other even if you can’t and the two of you working together to support each other when you are affected by the pain of unmet needs.
All emotions derive from needs; met and unmet. There is such a profound simplicity with this insight. Once you understand this you will have an invaluable tool to nurture your emotional wellbeing. Whenever you are uncomfortable, in emotional pain or distress, by realising that you are suffering because you aren’t getting something that you need or want, you can begin to change your situation. You can also begin to choose who can meet that need and that it isn’t solely the responsibility of your partner to do so.
Remember, you are allowed to have needs, you are allowed to have expectations! But don’t forget amongst those needs and expectations that it is wise to do a reality check and leave some room for imperfection, not just for your partner, but for yourself too!