Relationships Created From Needs
I have been playing with the idea that we create all of our relationships based on the needs they fill. It is not a very romantic notion, but I invite you to read, ponder with me, and let me know what you think. I am thinking of all relationships—romances, friendships, family, strangers, with your body, and even relationships with physical objects, ideas, and institutions.
For this discussion, let’s focus on romantic relationships, and you can expand from there. How have you chosen romantic partners in the past? Think about one. What is a need that you imagined this person might meet for you? And did they meet that need? Did meeting or not meeting that need have any influence on the outcome of the relationship?
Here are some possibilities of the kinds of needs that I am thinking of:
At the “lower” levels of consciousness, an older man might want a flashy young woman on his arm to meet his need to bolster his declining self-esteem. A woman who is fearful about her aging might choose a virile young man in her life to meet her need to prove she is still attractive. People often need to prove to their Inner Judge that he is wrong about their unworthiness, and at this level of awareness they will choose relationship partners based on this need.
At “medium” levels of consciousness (= healthy neurotics), denied parts of people’s total being are often projected onto others in order to meet their need to feel whole. A man who was forced to deny his quiet emotional side in childhood might choose a woman who embodies those qualities. If that inhibited woman feels her soul’s urge for wholeness, she might be very attracted to the man who is confident and aggressive in the world. This is the origin of Love at First Sight, Fairy Dust, and Love Across a Crowded Room. Partners are chosen to meet the soul’s need for wholeness—unfortunately, of course, we cannot be complete within by merging with someone from the outside.
Other needs that might exist at this level are companionship, financial security, emotional support, or a partner for tennis or sex. Of course, there is nothing wrong with meeting these and similar needs in relationship, but if we do it thinking that we are choosing for love and enduring happiness, we will surely be disappointed. Our denied parts start looking pretty annoying in other people after awhile, and Love at First Sight starts to get shaky after love’s first slight.
When we reach what I would call “higher” levels of consciousness (I hope you are as uncomfortable with this ranking system as I am), there is a new need that emerges and can be met in relationship. This is a human need for the intimacy that I have written about in previous articles. By this level of awareness we have claimed our right to be who we are, and don’t need someone on our arm to make us look good. . .we know we are goodness itself! We have reclaimed the denied and split-off parts of our whole being, and are not looking for completion from the outside. In our expanded consciousness we approach relationships of all kinds in wholeness and respect, and our needs are both practical and spiritual.
At this level of mental and emotional health we can choose romantic partners who are compatible with how we dream our lives—how we each relate to finances, travel, leisure, sexuality, physical activities, home, nature, animals, diet, spirituality, entertainment, and technology. Those are the practical needs, and meeting them is an important part of a healthy life.
The intimacy that I have written about previously is “a willingness to be open and present with our own feeling truth in each moment.” I believe that this intimacy is a spiritual need that is often not met in relationship, because many of us are afraid that if we show up and reveal the truth of who we are, we will be rejected. To be rejected and lose love is a major wound from most childhoods that continues to haunt our adult “love” relationships. (I use the quotes around “love” in this context, because if we are afraid to los