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Relationship Problems - How Neediness Damages Relationships

Aug 5, 2008
In our society we have become obsessed with love. Our films, our books, our plays and our music are full of stories about love - the joy of finding it and the heartache of losing it. We treat it as a commodity, a transient emotion that comes and goes. We are deliriously happy when we find it but suffer terribly when we lose it again. A vast majority of romantic relationships start well, with two people falling in love, but then something begins to go wrong. The feelings of love begin to fade and we start seeing our partner's failings. They begin to irritate us and act in ways that seem unloving. We then either move into compromise and settle for a relationship with less love and connection or we end the relationship and try to find someone better. Forming a successful romantic relationship is a real challenge, but it ends up this way because of a basic misunderstanding about love.

All our romantic problems stem from a destructive self-belief - that we are personally lacking in love. Deep down we feel empty and incomplete. It feels as if there is something missing in our lives. These feelings of scarcity then create a powerful need for love. That is why we go out into the world to find a romantic partner who will take away the emptiness and make us feel whole again. Of course our search for somebody to love us is often successful and the sensations of falling in love convince us that our strategy was right. Unfortunately, the ease with which we fall in love can become the biggest trap we face in life, because it seems to confirm that love lies outside us.

The sad truth is that most of us fall in love for the wrong reason. We bring a partner into our lives to fulfill our need for love, and it is this outward focus that creates all our problems. It creates a dependence on our partners - we rely on their presence in our lives, to make us happy. This is a recipe for disaster, as I discovered when my marriage failed. When my wife suddenly left me, all my needs and insecurities were laid bare and it was not a pretty site. How many of us fall in need rather than fall in love?

I am not saying needs are wrong - to be human is to have all sorts of needs, but the need for love is one of the most destructive. As long as we search outwards for love we will fail to see that we have it within. Our strong need for love usually comes from early experiences in our lives where we felt our needs were not met. Not only do we resent the people who failed to give us what we wanted (normally or parents), we also feel guilt for having failed in the relationship that would have provided those needs. We get really guilty for having given up on our store of self-love and taken on the belief that we are lacking in love. At the spiritual level we feel guilty for having turned away from our divine essence - that of 100% love and connection.

The problem with being needy in a relationship is that it tries to take from our partner. It assumes that they have the thing we need to make us happy. They may feel scarcity themselves so having to continually meet our needs drives up the feeling that they are losing something. We might end up fighting for who is going to meet the needs of the other person - this is the power struggle stage of relationships. When we feel our needs have not been met we might get angry, disappointed or moody as a way of punishing the other person. If this carries on we might be hit by depression because we just cannot get rid of the emptiness and deadness that we feel inside. Neediness eventually destroys a relationship or takes away all its joy.

So how do we remove the neediness from a relationship? Well the first thing to do is recognize the times when it is present in us and in our partner. Sometimes we may know we are being needy but at others we can be blind to it. If there is any bad feeling in a relationship, you can be sure that unmet needs are the cause. Try to identify what these needs are. What is not being met for you in the relationship - it will be exactly the same for your partner.

Here is the quick fix: Try to give the need that you feel is missing and it will be returned by your partner. Then start to understand your own needs in a situation. When was the first time in your life when they were not met? What was happening? Who was present? Try to forgive the people involved and realize that you could have given that missing need if you had been more mature and experienced. Visualize the situation now and give the need to all the people present. Breathe love back into the situation. As you heal your need you will find that your self-esteem grows.

You can do this exercise for all your emotional needs. Typically they lie in layers in the mind so we have to repeat the process for all the layers. Soon you will become an expert at spotting needs and healing them. Every single human problem can be traced back to a feeling of unmet needs and at the deepest level it is a belief that there is a lack of love. Emotional maturity and intelligence is really the ability to become aware of our needs and then not to play them out on the people around us. If we can't do this our needs drive the things that we want away and paradoxically as we heal the needs within, the very things that we desire begin to appear in our lives!
About the Author
Peter Granger is an acclaimed relationship counsellor and a Psychology of Vision Trainer (an organisation that specialises in helping people have happier and more fulfilled relationships. You can find lots more advice and tips about love, romance and relationships on www.iloveyouloveme.com
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