What If You Love Him But Your Needs Keep Not Being Met?

"You aren't alive if you aren't in need." — Dr. Henry Cloud

Love & Relationships

Before diving into this particular topic, let me just say, right out of the gate, that I've been here before. While some people from the outside looking in may question how anyone can get to a point and place in their life where they would go so far as to love someone who ignores their relational needs, those of us who've experienced that type of dynamic can break it all the way down. Sometimes, we went into the relationship not sure what we needed (more on that in a bit). Sometimes, the person met the needs in the beginning and then started getting lazy (or entitled) as we became more attached. Sometimes, needs change over time. Some of us, we are prone to be either codependent AF or a big-time over-giver. Others feel like when you love someone, making sure the other person's needs are met, is more important. Unfortunately.

As you can see, there is no one-dimension, cut-and-dry kind of reason for why a lot of us fall into this kind of situation. And at the end of the day, it almost doesn't even matter. What does matter is you knowing that if you're in an actual relationship with someone who you profess to love and they profess to love you, something that should definitely come with that is your needs being met. If somewhere in your psyche, you know that and yet you can't figure out how you got to where you are, I've got some questions that could shed a bit of light.

1. Do You Even Know What You Need?


One of my clients has some children who really struggle with emotional intelligence. I mean, eerily so. Although one is a preteen and the other is a teenager, it's like they don't understand any emotions past sad, happy and angry. The reason why that is so problematic is because, when you don't really understand that there are a ton of other emotions to experience, you will think that whatever experience happens in your life, you can only feel three ways about it — and that simply is not so (many mental health experts say there are around 27 different main emotions, by the way. You can read more about that here). And just where am I going with that? Those of you who read enough of my content know that I will say "adulthood is surviving childhood" on loop because I wholeheartedly believe it. Well, just like it's important to know when you are (for example) feeling anxious, disgusted or excited, it's also imperative that you 1) know the difference between a want and a need and 2) can clearly articulate those things to other people.

If you never grew up understanding that a need isn't some fleeting whim or unrealistic expectation but that it's something that is required — or in the case of relationships, it's basically a deal-breaker — you can be out here thinking that expensive dates are a need when they are actually a want or that you don't need proactive care when you absolutely do. So, when it comes to the man who you love, take out some time to journal out what you need, in general, in a romantic relationship. Not what you need from him specifically; more like what you need overall ("overall" will help you to be more realistic). Because until you know, how is it fair to expect someone else to meet your needs? It's not.

2. Did You Clearly Articulate Your Needs Early On?


A couple of years ago, I wrote the article, "The 'Pre-Commitment Interview' Every Dating Couple Should Have" for this platform. A part of the reason why is because, I continue to remain baffled by, the amount of people who think that love means someone should be able to read their mind.

Hell, if you don't always understand what is going on with you, why should you be out here expecting other people to figure it out? That's what therapy, not a relationship, is for.

And so, yeah, if you feel like your needs aren't being met right now, the next question to reflect on is if you ever stated them — because a lot of people don't. And let me tell you, the more couples that I work with, the more it is abundantly clear that most men are like, "Unless you say it, it doesn't exist." Meaning, they are not going to sit around, pining over whether you've shared your deepest and most profound emotions. To them, everything is pretty much fine — until you say otherwise.

It is really unfair to expect someone to meet what they know nothing about or to penalize them now for something that you should've stated from the jump. So, if your needs aren't being met in your relationship, the next question to ask yourself is, "Did I share my needs before going into this?" If not, that's on you. For now, anyway.

3. Are Your Needs Realistic?


Even if Kevin Samuels is a trigger for you (and if so, to a large extent, I get it), an interview that is still interesting (in a cautionary tale kind of way) is "My Ex Still Pays My Bills: The Interview with @Blujasmine". While in the midst of an interview not too long ago, someone asked me what one of my biggest relational pet peeves are. Hands down, something that tops the list is having a sense of entitlement. I can't stand it. And that interview featured a woman who is like a mascot for it. That's why I think the next point that needs to be addressed is if your needs are realistic or not. If you're dating someone who works two jobs, he may not have the time or means to go on a lot of high-end dates or buy you expensive things. If he's a parent (a good one, anyway), you're going to have to adjust to his child being his top priority. If you're in a long-distance relationship, you're probably going to have to make a lot of sacrifices when it comes to figuring out how to spend quality time together and moving the relationship forward.

That's why, it's so important to factor in the kind of relationship you're in and the type of guy that you're with when it comes to your needs too. Because the reality is, if you want over-the-top experiences on a consistent basis, a man who will constantly make you feel like you are #1 and/or someone who is available to you at the drop of a dime, he may need to make more money and/or not have many relational responsibilities and/or live in your city (and have more time on his hands). Because yes, while your needs are indeed valid no matter what, they can be super unrealistic when you don't factor certain circumstances into the equation.

4. Are You Teaching Him How to Treat You?


Every time I turn another year (which I semi-recently did), there will be new mantras that come into my psyche. One that I am on repeat about right through here is "chase nothing". Case in point. In part, due to this platform, folks will hit me up often about becoming a client. What many of them will do is set up an appointment and then not keep it. What I used to do in times past is give them 2-3 times to get things right. Not anymore, though. I have no interest in my time being disrespected because when you work in a counseling lane, time literally is money — you are freeing up your schedule and when folks don't honor that, money is lost. Someone was asking me recently if toting this hard line is a gamble. Heck no. I would much rather have people learn how to respect other people's time and keep their word via the experience, so that they will hopefully learn how to treat others' time well than to keep frustrating myself with folks who have already shown that they don't take their word or my time very seriously.

Y'all, when they say that we teach people how to treat us, words cannot express how much truth there is in that. In the relational sense, once you state your needs, should your partner agree to meet them (because that is also key; some of us aren't getting our needs met because the guy heard them yet never said that he would meet them), it's OK to hold them to the standard that's been set.

For instance, if you say that you need him to plan dates ahead of time and he keeps popping up at your house to order pizza and watch television, it's cool if you want to hold off on getting together sometimes. Or, if you need more affection and less sex, it's totally understandable if you want to forego sexual activity for a while until he gets that intimacy isn't just about intercourse.

The key with this particular point is to not approach things from a place of punishment or being passive aggressive (passive aggressiveness is the worst). What I'm saying is if you state a need, he agrees to the need and yet keeps not meeting it, bring up that you feel like your needs are being ignored and no, it's not alright to just keep going along with the relationship as if the needs aren't essential. Either he's gonna catch on or keep depriving you. And either way, that's going to send a message about what you need to do next. Or at least...it should.

5. Are You “Setting the Example”?


Wanna know one motto that can save you a helluva lot of trouble in a relationship? Be the kind of partner you want to have. Words cannot express, how many people will tell me that they are unhappy in their relationship because they aren't getting what they need (or want) and then, when I turn around and ask them 1) what their own partner needs and 2) if they are being intentional about meeting them, sometimes, all they give me is, a blank stare.

When it comes to men specifically, I can't tell you how often I hear, almost on loop, that what they need is someone who 1) shows gratitude and 2) is affirming. And yet, it's like a lot of women will be like, "No, you don't need those things. You need what I think you need." Lord.

If we're all doing this relationship thing right and well, we'll want to meet our partner's needs. A part of the reason why will be because they are loving us so right and well that we want them to feel as satisfied as we do. I will not change my stance that if you're in a mutual love relationship that your needs should definitely be met. However, if you're not making sure that you're meeting his needs to, that's pretty hypocritical. It also could explain some of the reason why you're in lack.

6. Do You Love Yourself More?


Something that I don't personally think is conveyed, nearly enough is, a beautiful benefit of being in a relationship is you're able to be with someone who loves, honors and respects you enough that they want to meet your needs as you do the same thing for them. Not only that but you love yourself so much that if they are unwilling to meet your needs, you are willing to release them and go on with your life because you love, honor and respect yourself enough to do so.

A part of what gives us the strength to come to this kind of conclusion is when we're intentional about meeting our own needs instead of just waiting for some guy to come along and do it. What I mean by that is, a lot of us will deny giving our own selves what we require, thinking that it's someone else's job to do that. And since we've "appointed them" to that place, once they come along, we'll stay longer than we should, simply because we've programmed ourselves to think that them meeting our needs is far more of a priority than us meeting our needs.

It's not. Although I don't do the whole holidays thing, folks in my tribe know that my birthday is meant to be treated like one of the best days of the year. These days, my people honor the need that I have to feel that way, every year, pretty much without fail. However, there are some men in my past who sucked at celebrating my birthday. I mean, SUCKED at it. One even had the nerve to say that since his wasn't a big deal to him, that's why he didn't honor mine either. Boy, bye. If my own friends — people with their own tight schedules, relationships, etc. — can figure it out, someone who professes to be my significant other most definitely should.

I used to spend — or is it waste? — a lot of time debating/discussing this with him, thinking that I could convince him to change his mind. These days, I would never do that. My birthday is the same day every year, you've got 364 days to prepare, so if you don't, that's a choice. It's your right too. And in response, it's also mine to step away and clear the space for someone who will be happy to meet that need as I make sure that I celebrate me in the process. Feel me?

The lead quote? It is oh so very important. If you are living, you have needs. The ones who truly love you will want to meet them too. The ones who are in it to manipulate will say that you're being needy. Don't fall for that. So long as you factor in all of what I've just said, it's OK to 1) expect your needs to be met and 2) do some shifting if they aren't. No matter how much you love him. No matter how much he claims to love you — too. Because the reality is sometimes, even when it comes to love, what you need to do is release each other so that you can get your needs met — elsewhere.

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ACLU By ACLUSponsored

Over the past four years, we grew accustomed to a regular barrage of blatant, segregationist-style racism from the White House. Donald Trump tweeted that “the Squad," four Democratic Congresswomen who are Black, Latinx, and South Asian, should “go back" to the “corrupt" countries they came from; that same year, he called Elizabeth Warren “Pocahontas," mocking her belief that she might be descended from Native American ancestors.

But as outrageous as the racist comments Trump regularly spewed were, the racially unjust governmental actions his administration took and, in the case of COVID-19, didn't take, impacted millions more — especially Black and Brown people.

To begin to heal and move toward real racial justice, we must address not only the harms of the past four years, but also the harms tracing back to this country's origins. Racism has played an active role in the creation of our systems of education, health care, ownership, and employment, and virtually every other facet of life since this nation's founding.

Our history has shown us that it's not enough to take racist policies off the books if we are going to achieve true justice. Those past policies have structured our society and created deeply-rooted patterns and practices that can only be disrupted and reformed with new policies of similar strength and efficacy. In short, a systemic problem requires a systemic solution. To combat systemic racism, we must pursue systemic equality.

What is Systemic Racism?

A system is a collection of elements that are organized for a common purpose. Racism in America is a system that combines economic, political, and social components. That system specifically disempowers and disenfranchises Black people, while maintaining and expanding implicit and explicit advantages for white people, leading to better opportunities in jobs, education, and housing, and discrimination in the criminal legal system. For example, the country's voting systems empower white voters at the expense of voters of color, resulting in an unequal system of governance in which those communities have little voice and representation, even in policies that directly impact them.

Systemic Equality is a Systemic Solution

In the years ahead, the ACLU will pursue administrative and legislative campaigns targeting the Biden-Harris administration and Congress. We will leverage legal advocacy to dismantle systemic barriers, and will work with our affiliates to change policies nearer to the communities most harmed by these legacies. The goal is to build a nation where every person can achieve their highest potential, unhampered by structural and institutional racism.

To begin, in 2021, we believe the Biden administration and Congress should take the following crucial steps to advance systemic equality:

Voting Rights

The administration must issue an executive order creating a Justice Department lead staff position on voting rights violations in every U.S. Attorney office. We are seeing a flood of unlawful restrictions on voting across the country, and at every level of state and local government. This nationwide problem requires nationwide investigatory and enforcement resources. Even if it requires new training and approval protocols, a new voting rights enforcement program with the participation of all 93 U.S. Attorney offices is the best way to help ensure nationwide enforcement of voting rights laws.

These assistant U.S. attorneys should begin by ensuring that every American in the custody of the Bureau of Prisons who is eligible to vote can vote, and monitor the Census and redistricting process to fight the dilution of voting power in communities of color.

We are also calling on Congress to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act to finally create a fair and equal national voting system, the cause for which John Lewis devoted his life.

Student Debt

Black borrowers pay more than other students for the same degrees, and graduate with an average of $7,400 more in debt than their white peers. In the years following graduation, the debt gap more than triples. Nearly half of Black borrowers will default within 12 years. In other words, for Black Americans, the American dream costs more. Last week, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, along with House Reps. Ayanna Pressley, Maxine Waters, and others, called on President Biden to cancel up to $50,000 in federal student loan debt per borrower.

We couldn't agree more. By forgiving $50,000 of student debt, President Biden can unleash pent up economic potential in Black communities, while relieving them of a burden that forestalls so many hopes and dreams. Black women in particular will benefit from this executive action, as they are proportionately the most indebted group of all Americans.

Postal Banking

In both low and high income majority-Black communities, traditional bank branches are 50 percent more likely to close than in white communities. The result is that nearly 50 percent of Black Americans are unbanked or underbanked, and many pay more than $2,000 in fees associated with subprime financial institutions. Over their lifetime, those fees can add up to as much as two years of annual income for the average Black family.

The U.S. Postal Service can and should meet this crisis by providing competitive, low-cost financial services to help advance economic equality. We call on President Biden to appoint new members to the Postal Board of Governors so that the Post Office can do the work of providing essential services to every American.

Fair Housing

Across the country, millions of people are living in communities of concentrated poverty, including 26 percent of all Black children. The Biden administration should again implement the 2015 Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule, which required localities that receive federal funds for housing to investigate and address barriers to fair housing and patterns or practices that promote bias. In 1980, the average Black person lived in a neighborhood that was 62 percent Black and 31 percent white. By 2010, the average Black person's neighborhood was 48 percent Black and 34 percent white. Reinstating the Obama-era Fair Housing Rule will combat this ongoing segregation and set us on a path to true integration.

Congress should also pass the American Housing and Economic Mobility Act, or a similar measure, to finally redress the legacy of redlining and break down the walls of segregation once and for all.

Broadband Access

To realize broadband's potential to benefit our democracy and connect us to one another, all people in the United States must have equal access and broadband must be made affordable for the most vulnerable. Yet today, 15 percent of American households with school-age children do not have subscriptions to any form of broadband, including one-quarter of Black households (an additional 23 percent of African Americans are “smartphone-only" internet users, meaning they lack traditional home broadband service but do own a smartphone, which is insufficient to attend class, do homework, or apply for a job). The Biden administration, Federal Communications Commission, and Congress must develop and implement plans to increase funding for broadband to expand universal access.

Enhanced, Refundable Child Tax Credits

The United States faces a crisis of child poverty. Seventeen percent of all American children are impoverished — a rate higher than not just peer nations like Canada and the U.K., but Mexico and Russia as well. Currently, more than 50 percent of Black and Latinx children in the U.S. do not qualify for the full benefit, compared to 23 percent of white children, and nearly one in five Black children do not receive any credit at all.

To combat this crisis, President Biden and Congress should enhance the child tax credit and make it fully refundable. If we enhance the child tax credit, we can cut child poverty by 40 percent and instantly lift over 50 percent of Black children out of poverty.


We cannot repair harms that we have not fully diagnosed. We must commit to a thorough examination of the impact of the legacy of chattel slavery on racial inequality today. In 2021, Congress must pass H.R. 40, which would establish a commission to study reparations and make recommendations for Black Americans.

The Long View

For the past century, the ACLU has fought for racial justice in legislatures and in courts, including through several landmark Supreme Court cases. While the court has not always ruled in favor of racial justice, incremental wins throughout history have helped to chip away at different forms of racism such as school segregation ( Brown v. Board), racial bias in the criminal legal system (Powell v. Alabama, i.e. the Scottsboro Boys), and marriage inequality (Loving v. Virginia). While these landmark victories initiated necessary reforms, they were only a starting point.

Systemic racism continues to pervade the lives of Black people through voter suppression, lack of financial services, housing discrimination, and other areas. More than anything, doing this work has taught the ACLU that we must fight on every front in order to overcome our country's legacies of racism. That is what our Systemic Equality agenda is all about.

In the weeks ahead, we will both expand on our views of why these campaigns are crucial to systemic equality and signal the path this country must take. We will also dive into our work to build organizing, advocacy, and legal power in the South — a region with a unique history of racial oppression and violence alongside a rich history of antiracist organizing and advocacy. We are committed to four principles throughout this campaign: reconciliation, access, prosperity, and empowerment. We hope that our actions can meet our ambition to, as Dr. King said, lead this nation to live out the true meaning of its creed.

What you can do:
Take the pledge: Systemic Equality Agenda
Sign up

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