“Remember that the best relationship is one in which your love for each other exceeds your need for each other.” ~Dalai Lama
There’s a difference between being “in love” and being “in need.”
We verbally claim our love for our partner and believe to feel this emotion deeply. However, when it comes down to discerning actions, we’d be shocked to realize we only need them.
I needed someone in the past, and truth be told, there was something missing in both me and in my life.
This person came along and was the perfect man to fill the holes in my life that I thought I so desperately needed to fill. Sadly, I confused my neediness for love. In fact, it wasn’t him I needed—it was what I needed “from” him.
I now know what it feels like to feel need instead of love.
I freak out when I hear someone say, “I need you.”
At the surface, it’s a harmless statement. But if we truly behold the deeper meaning behind it and contemplate the damage it does, we’d find it has nothing to do with genuine love. I choose to replace it with “I want you,” “I appreciate you,” or simply, “I love you.”
It’s of utmost importance to tell the difference between neediness and love, or else we will pursue a relationship for the wrong reasons—hurting ourselves and the other person.
Love is not a business contract—it’s a state of being.
Love means enjoying the person and their presence. We let them be, and take into account their own personal needs.
This is how we “want” another person. Their presence should be an additional joy or blessing in our lives. Nevertheless, when their presence becomes a must or an addiction, our love transforms to neediness. When we are in need, we don’t enjoy the person himself. Rather, we enjoy what we take from them.
Some people are in need, but oblivious to it. If we cast the light on this issue, we can work on eradicating it. Consequently, we help our love flourish in a valuable way.
1. Focusing on what you’re receiving.
When we take instead of share, we take note of what’s being brought to the table. We might have an unconscious physical, emotional, materialistic, or mental need we expect a partner to honor. Fights ensue when these expectations aren’t met.
What to do: Wanting something means not minding if it’s not there. However, needing something means not being able to perpetuate love without it. We can alter our perspective and focus instead on what we’re sharing—and not on what we’re taking. There will always be an imbalance of give and take in love. So, the best way to stop needing that balance is by actually creating it. We create it by lowering our expectations and removing the focus off of our partner.
2. Blaming them for your misery.
In a needy relationship, our misery is blamed on our partner. We link it to not getting what we want. To put it differently, we constantly associate our negative emotions with our partner and claim they inflicted them on us.
What to do: True love doesn’t know blame. We must understand that our emotions and thoughts are in constant flux—and they’re not necessarily our partner’s fault. Even if it is the case, it is advisable to talk it through calmly and consciously, instead of furiously holding our partner accountable.
3. Attached to their presence.
Getting used to someone is something and getting attached to them is something else. Habit is normal and common. Nonetheless, attachment is the inability to live without our partner. When we are in need, we don’t tolerate their absence. This is why many couples abundantly suffer after breaking up—because of attachment.
What to do: Separation or distance is undoubtedly heart-wrenching, but it shouldn’t be poisonous. It’s advisable to learn how to be on our own even if our partner is absent. We can do so by focusing on ourselves and filling our free time with things we like to do.
4. Sense of control.
A major sign of a needy relationship is spotting signs of control. To pressure the other person into fitting the image we have of them isn’t love at all—we’d only be in love with the person we want them to be.
What to do: We should honor and respect our partner for who they are. We don’t need to change them. By all means, there will be compromises along the way, but both partners consciously agree on them. Whenever we feel the need to change or control, it’s valuable to remember we can’t change people. We can only appreciate them the way they are.
5. Feeling empty without them.
There is a thin line between missing our partner and feeling empty without them. To feel empty without another person is similar to being addicted to a drug—we don’t healthily operate when the drug isn’t there. Our happiness and comfort are always dependent on our partner. We wouldn’t happily miss them—we’d miserably miss them.
What to do: When we truly love someone we’d still feel complete without them. That said, we are not with them so they can complete us. Rather, we share our completeness together. In order to accomplish this completeness, we can practice seeing ourselves and our partner as individuals rather than one person.
6. Your happiness comes first.
When we are in need, we continuously need to be happy—it is difficult to consider the other person’s happiness, too. This, generates selfishness and undesired issues in the relationship.
What to do: To truly love someone is to wish them happiness and opt to be part of making it happen. We must surely think of our happiness as well, but we shouldn’t forget our partner’s. Contemplate equality and reflect on how your partner aspires for happiness as much as you do.
The best method yet to refrain being in need is to be in love with ourselves first. When we fill our own gaps, our love for another person will be appropriately reliable. We won’t love them just to fill the missing space in our lives. Rather, we’ll love them for who they are and appreciate what they give themselves, and us. The relationship then becomes a place of sharing.
Thus love is heightened and unconditional.
Author: Elyane Youssef
Image: Tanja Heffner/Unsplash
Editor: Caitlin Oriel