Remember that the best relationship is one in which your love for each other exceeds your need for each other. The Dalai Lama (18 Rules for Living – #17)
I wish someone had told me this when I was younger. Sadly it is very easy to confuse love and need with one another; especially at the start. At first most relationships seem wonderful, even the bad ones. In the beginning it feels so good to be needed, let’s face it sometimes we just need to be needed. If we are lucky that need can be nurtured into something greater. In most cases we are not that lucky – I know I am not. So what’s the difference between a love and a need relationship?
Relationships built on love are healthy, uplifting, and beneficial to both parties. They are harmonious and lead to both individuals being able to help one another when in need because the foundation of love is one of compromise and balance. I am not saying a relationship founded on love is a cake walk, or that it doesn’t have moments of difficulty, we are talking about human beings here. But love allows us to be able to put the other person above ourselves. Generally it opens our eyes and our hearts to the wants and needs of someone besides ourselves, as we are able to accept their motives as genuine, because ours are. Ideally we would call that trust.
On the other hand relationships built on need tend to become clingy, disadvantaged, and extremely unhealthy. The problem is they are founded on a need for acceptance and play on a lack of self worth. The parties of the relationship tend to drag one another down in a desperate attempt to help themselves. Such relationships are a breeding ground for resentment. Even the greatest relationship will crumble under such weight, never mind one that has started out in an unhealthy state.
Why does need build resentment? Because no-one can fulfill the need for acceptance and self worth in you, but you. You have to be able to accept yourself first. You have to be able to live believing you are worthy. Once you have found these things for yourself, then you can proceed to build a strong and healthy relationship with some-one else. Relationships do not work when each partner is looking for the other to fulfill them. Such relationships are generally one sided and selfish. However if you can love yourself, then you can love others. I am not speaking about a vain, narcissistic love but one based on self respect, and self worth. See self love is not founded on gain. It’s not about what you can get out of yourself – “If I do this for you, what will you give me in return?” Self love is about healing and being whole.
It is a sad truth, but often we expect the other person to verify us. We are attracted to people who we feel can relate to us, who get us. Needy people tend to understand and recognize the need in others, but two needy people cannot build each other up, they can however tear each other down as it can become a “tit for tat” relationship. This is a terrible and vicious cycle.
Also some of us are “fixers”. What does that mean? It means we see the potential in other people and we want to help them see that potential too. It means we like to have “projects”. It can become our obsession getting that other person to understand how amazing they could be “if only…” The problem with that is we cannot change other people; we cannot fix anything about anyone other than ourselves unless that other person is a willing participant. And more often than not they are not aware that they “need” fixing, and when it comes right down to it they are not so keen on the idea of changing for you. Again this is a personal thing. They will change when they see the need, and are filled with the desire, and are willing to make that kind of commitment. Change is a lot of hard work. It’s especially hard work if it is being forced upon an uncooperative individual. This again is a selfish and one sided relationship.
You see, in the case of the “fixer” I am afraid that it is often so much easier to focus on changing some-one else than changing ourselves. It is easier to see the problems in others than to accept our own problems. It is, at least in the short term, easier to see the attributes we need in others and turn to them as a means to obtaining those attributes, rather than committing to changing ourselves. But in the long term this short cut will often lead to heartache, and broken relationships. Again we find ourselves in another vicious cycle.
In closing let me say: two halves do not always make a whole; they make two halves standing together trying to be whole. But two wholes somehow can come together and make one whole – how that works I’m not sure as it defies logic and mathematics, but in matters of the heart and relationships it seems to be how it works.
My Spoken Heart – Andrea Crowell