Here's my true confession for the week. It's only been within the past 12 months or so that I can honestly say that, when it comes to at least 95 percent of my relationships (be it personal or professional), my needs are being met. Whew, girl! I can't tell you how good it feels to say that.
If you've read even a couple of my articles on here (especially the relationship ones), I'm pretty sure that I'm being redundant when I say that I spend A LOT of time in self-introspection. When it comes to this particular topic, I think the combination of coming from a broken home (two times over), being abused (sexually, physically, verbally and emotionally—not every day but enough to break my spirit) and choosing some of the wackest friends, boyfriends and sex partners as a direct result, all played a part in me not getting my needs met.
Because I wasn't really taught how to value myself, I didn't.
And because I always wanted someone to value me in order to fill the void, I found myself in a constant state of immense codependency. You know—out here doing most of the work just so that I wouldn't feel alone. I find it to be no coincidence that the moment I said to myself, "Wait a minute. This is crazy. Let me tend to 'Little Shellie' so that Big Shellie can get out relationships what she truly deserves," that things took a turn for the better. The much better.
I don't settle for work situations that want me to compromise my platform, my standards and, to a large degree, even my expectations. And on the personal tip, although I strive for peace with everyone, I don't try and keep people around who, through their actions (or lack thereof), don't act like they want to be there; a clear sign of when that's the case is when someone knows what you need—not necessarily want but need—and refuse to do anything about it.
Did you just read all of that and suddenly feel the urge to scream "yes!" from your desk, couch or bed? If you can relate to where I'm coming from, but you have a hard time figuring out why you're constantly in a state of being deprived in your own relationships, here are five points that helped me to get to the root of why it was happening to me so much. I pray it sets you free, sis.
You’re Not Really Sure What Your Needs Are
If you're a parent, an aunt or even if you've simply babysat before, you know what it's like dealing with a toddler who doesn't know what they want. They're crying, maybe even throwing an all-out temper tantrum, but when you keep asking them what they want, they don't have an answer; plus, they are mad at you for not figuring it out for them.
A lot of grown people are just like this. They think that because someone loves (or even deeply likes) them that they should be going above and beyond to get to the root of what their needs are; that reading their mind is evidence that they truly care.
Toddlers get a pass because they are still trying to figure out what a need is, let alone how to express it. Adults? Not so much. No one should be expected to read your mind. Bigger than that, no one should be expected to know what your needs are when you can't even figure them out.
If your needs are never met, maybe because you are the first one who doesn't have a clue what they are. Hmm.
Once You Figure Them Out, You Don’t VERBALIZE Them
I'm a woman and even I get worn out by some of the women in my life who prefer to drop hints rather than be direct. I'm supposed to guess what they want to do for their birthday or I'm supposed to be so in tune with them that I know when they want to hang out and when they need their space.
Having these kinds of unrealistic expectations are not only unrealistic, they are also unfair and bring unnecessary pressure to the relationship dynamic. People who truly care about you and want to be a part of your life want to know what your needs are. If you truly care about your connection with them, state your needs. Don't hold people accountable for what you never put on record in the first place.
You Automatically Think Others Should Do for You What You Are Doing for Them
It's an esurance commercial where one senior woman is posting pics on her wall, thinking that's how FB functions. When she tells her two friends about it, one of them irritates her and she responds by telling her that she just "unfriended" her by removing her photograph. Her friend then replies by saying, "That's not how it works. That's not how any of this works."
When it comes to trying to get your needs met and attempting to do it by incorporating the Golden Rule—you know, "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you"—I think that old lady's response applies. Translation—just because you may go above and beyond to meet the needs of others, that doesn't automatically mean they will do the same for you (you'll have to trust God and karma to give back, but not necessarily a particular individual).
One way you can know if this is a pattern (that is more like a rut) for you is to think about how you feel immediately following and then a few days after you do something for someone. If there is a part of you that is resentful because you don't think they responded in the way you would have 1) check your motives for what you did in the first place and 2) accept that this particular point probably hits really close to home.
Getting what you need doesn't always come as the result of giving others what you need. The Golden Rule is a reminder to treat people like you want to be treated. However, it is not a guarantee that they will or that they'll respond/react exactly the way (or in the time) that you do/would. Always remember that.
You Overcompensate in Virtually All of Your Relationships
One of my once-upon-a-time-closest relationships, after we had a pretty big disagreement and worked things out, one of the things I said to them was, "I'm going to quit doing 80 percent of the work in this. So, we'll be whatever we're going to be if I'm not doing most of the work." I haven't heard from them since. It was a great relational experiment—and lesson.
I'm a big giver. It's one of my spiritual gifts (if you've never taken a spiritual gifts test before, they are actually pretty cool; you can take one here). But it took me a LONG time to learn the difference between giving as a form of ministry (serving others) and giving in a relationship where there should be some type of reciprocity.
A lot of us are not getting our needs met because we are doing far too much of the work. We're sending the message that all someone has to do is the bare minimum and we'll be absolutely fine with that. If you're not—and you shouldn't be—here's where my final point comes in.
There Are No “Consequences” for Them Not Being Met
When it comes to disciplining children, I once read that while punishment is typically an emotional reaction on the parent's part, consequences are designed to correct and improve a child's behavior. In a nutshell, punishments can sometimes be nothing more than painful while consequences are the direct result of cause and effect.
If we were to apply this to grown folks dealing with one another, I think the article "Why I Don't 'Cut People Off' Anymore, I Release Them Instead" applies. Back when I was just out here punishing people for hurting me (or even just disappointing me), it only caused more harm. Now, when I have a need and it continually doesn't get met, I simply release that individual. It's cause and effect—if you don't see the value of my needs, then you must not need me around.
If someone truly wants you in their life, they'll learn from their consequences.
If nothing changes, well, maybe you didn't need them quite as much as you thought you did. Hmph.
Featured image by Getty Images