There is a very thin line between a relationship that works and one that doesn’t. A relationship which appreciates over time and one that depreciates over time.
How is it that two individuals who engage in a relationship with the desire to make it work can somehow end up with a total breakdown in connection and communication? I believe it is sensible to assume that most people who start a relationship want to make it work. Wouldn’t you agree? Yet we all know of many relationships that don’t. What’s going on? Why so much misunderstanding? How do people manage to be disappointed over and over again?
Many reasons could be invoked, some more valid than others, and probably all having some element of truth. I want to share one distinction which I believe is absolutely essential for ANY relationship to work.
For me, the line is crossed when loving becomes needing.
Loving leads to appreciation; needing leads to depreciation.
It seems fairly obvious when put in these terms, but here’s the thing: we are confused by societal and cultural influences into believing that “needing” is good, from a very young age! Needing the other one to live fully is the quintessential symbol of romance; needing is the direct effect of passion; needing is the real deal when one truly finds love. Our cultural heritage, at least in the Western world, is impregnated with this idea of needing your one true love, your soul mate, to finally be accomplished in life.
I believe this gigantic illusion is the root of most relational problems. It is an enticing global fantasy.
Need creates pressure, that the other one has not signed up for.
Need creates expectations, that the other one is bound to mismanage – your “soul mate” is not a mind reader.
Need creates dependence, which is disempowering the needy individual.
Need comes hand in hand with hurt and resentment.
A relationship based on neediness, hiding behind the illusion of passionate love as a façade, will only depreciate over time.
What you want for a relationship to work over time is to kill once and for all this fantasy of two halves needing to complement each other to survive, and instead choose to love proactively the person you want to build a relationship with.
“Loving without needing”, as one of my clients skillfully put it, is the underlying structure of any relationship that will appreciate with time. It allows for a healthy self-esteem on both sides of the relationship. To put it in trivial terms, the other one is a “bonus” in your life, not a part of your being that you cannot function without.
Think about it. Before meeting this person, you were whole. Meeting this person gave you access to additional levels of fulfillment. This person is adding value to your life; they are an addition to your life, not some crutch that you now need in order to function at full capacity!
Whenever I have been disappointed in my past relationships, I realise that I had fallen into this needy place. The neediness created the disappointment – and, ironically, it created the loss of what or who I thought I needed…
And now, when I manage to be loving without needing, I have access to a totally different experience of fulfillment. I am creating a deep and intimate connection with the person I am in a relationship with, and I have more of it because I don’t need it.
This, by the way, is also true for professional relationships.
To avoid falling back into the needing illusion is hard work; but the reward is breathtaking.