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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