Something that I find interesting and perplexing at the same time about dating or just relationships in general, is how so many of us are so afraid of telling others what we really need.
I’ve always wondered why that was the case and in my observations with others, this hesitation usually stems from a couple of things:
- #1 A dishonest culture, where lying and putting up false fronts are unfortunately commonly accepted (I talk about dishonesty in this post)
- #2 A fear that the other party does not have the ability and/or interest to meet said needs, thus shattering the fantasy we had of them
- #3 A fear that our needs are “too much” and “too demanding” (classic people-pleasing behaviour)
- #4 A fear that if we state our needs the person will leave
- #5 A weak sense of Self (which is really the main contributor of all 4 reasons above)
Let me explain.
#1 Living in a dishonest world
Many people are dishonest in dating and relationships. That has worsened with the rise of online dating, where there is no way of verifying who people say they are. And it has lied to some of the worst relationship ethics and probably contributes to the largest spike in the amount of lies being traded by humans in history. Scammers, ghosting and the absolute worst – the majority of users being married or already in relationships – the highest and worst form of relationship deception.
Dishonesty has various negative implications on relationships – it blocks intimacy and it chips away at your own sense of self. You can’t really show up for others or yourself fully in the world, if you are constantly occupied with worrying about what you should be hiding.
I do understand the reasons for why lying is important sometimes – self-preservation for instance, giving the person the chance to get to know you before revealing other more private bits about you – I also think that many of us can be too trusting of what others say. I find this more particular with women (which most of my clients are) – trusting what the man says over what his actions show.
However, on the other hand, there have been so many instances of people just being straight up dishonest about things that doesn’t require any self-preservation or dishonesty. For example, telling someone that you are seeing that you are okay to just meeting up once a week, although you prefer it 5 times a week is going to make you resentful and upset in the long run. It is also going to put you even further from finding the relationship or the person that can truly meet that need.
Unfortunately, I do not see dishonesty abating anytime soon, which is why it is even more important that we learn how to vet potential partners properly on dates.
Are you spotting red flags well enough in relationships? Find out below!
#2 Fearing others will not meet our needs + misaligned fantasies
The thing we need to make a habit of doing is – to get comfortable with the feelings and habit of voicing what you need in a relationship. We need to start making it familiar to ask for things we need. And if the person think that need does not fit theirs, or they are unable to live up to that – they aren’t the person for you.
It’s actually a very impersonal thing – two people who meet and like each other somewhat try to sus out each other’s needs and find that they are incompatible. One perhaps, needs sex on a daily basis, another needs long bouts of alone time and personal space. Once they establish that these are their needs, they have a conversation about whether or not they are able to meet the other’s needs.
If they can’t, they just go their separate ways. Once a person cannot and will not meet your needs, they are not compatible with you and it’s time to free the both of you to go meet someone else who will and can meet them easily.
#3 Fearing that our needs are too much
Many of us grew up in a people-pleasing culture, we strive to please our parents, teachers, society etc when growing up and when we hit adulthood, find that these habits are so difficult to undo. One of the ways people-pleasing can manifest in potent ways is when you are in romantic relationships.
How it usually plays out is, we may express a need, our partner or date may react by recoiling or whatever, and then instead of thinking – oh this person may not be a right fit for me in this way, you turn it inward and blame, guilt and shame yourself for having that need.
Then you follow up by trying to suppress it or telling yourself the need is not important, in order to appear “tough” and “chill” and “cool” (I will write about this cool girl thing we all subscribe to someday).
But by telling yourself you don’t have needs and behaving that way to a partner, it slowly starts to eat into you. Because you will end up in a spot where you feel like a smaller version of yourself as your needs aren’t met at all and it starts to also eat into your relationship.
Take for example, my huge need for personal space. I’ve been with partners who just never grasped the concept and back then, younger me would just be like, oh well, it’s not that important, I will just ignore it. The ignoring overtime led to huge resentment and anger towards my partner and caused other intimacy issues.
#4 Fearing that the person will leave
We may also fear speaking up about our needs because we are afraid that the person will leave us. This actually speaks to abandonment and esteem issues that may require some unpacking. Did you express a need when you were a child and not only didn’t get it, but you did not get the love/affection you wanted from your caregivers? That will prime you to not express a need ever, because of the beliefs that if you do – people end up leaving you.
The thing is, it again goes back to compatibility – if a person is willing to understand and meet your need – they are your person. The person that chooses to live after you’ve expressed a need…just let them go. They aren’t your person.
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#5 Weak Sense of Self
Actually, this point explains why points 2 to 5 happen. When we have parts of ourselves that are not healed yet, that we have trouble accepting, when we having found the stable foundations within us, we will continue not letting our needs be met. We will continue suppressing your needs.
Perhaps you may not even know what your needs are – many I’ve worked with are like that. If you’ve grown up in an authoritarian culture, where decisions are always palmed off to someone else, where youths/children are not seen as people with their own thoughts and feelings, then it can be hard to know where you begin and end and where another person begins.
If anything, it’s time to start working on identifying your needs in life – what keeps your soul nourished and well-fed? What makes you happy? What can you not do without in life – assurance? stability? freedom? How do those concepts look like for you? How will it play out in your life and in romance?
These are not coffee chat questions that you can answer whilst reading this post! Instead, take some time over the next few weeks/months to ponder these questions. When you get clearer on your needs, start giving it to yourself, you will then be able to figure out if a person is right or not for you based off whether they can meet these set of needs or not.
Let’s stop being afraid of expressing our needs
Saying what we need or feel will not ruin a genuine connection with someone who actually cares for you and loves you. Someone who wants you in their life will think about how they can make it work for the both of you. Of course, it also involves some adjustment on your ened. But if stating a need offends them or scares them or brings up insults in them – sriously, good riddance.
Let’s start familiarising being comfy with stating what we need to others. Their reactions and emotions are not ours to own. And if someone refuses to meet them or cannot, they just aren’t compatible with you.