Why “I need YOU” means so much more than “I love YOU” for single black professionals

Why “I need YOU” means so much more than “I love YOU” for single black professionals

Despite the recent surge in conversations about vulnerability, we still live in an age of uber-independence. We celebrate those who seem to have reached success by lifting themselves up by their bootstraps; despite that the fact that those same people would happily acknowledge all the people who helped along the way. And we shy away from moments of vulnerability as if they will make us appear weak or, even worse, needy.

With these cultural messages that make independence seem like the highest achievement, it may seem counter intuitive to profess your neediness for another person. But healthy relationships are not built on two independent people simply sharing space with one another. The key to a loving, emotionally close relationship is for two interdependent people to learn how to come together to share a life. But how do you create interdependence? There are some simple ways to start.

Interdependence is not the same as needy.

I’m sure your first reaction is, “I’m not needy,” or “I don’t want him/her to think I’m needy.” But what I am suggesting is not about being helpless or clingy. Too often we use the term “needy” interchangeably with “needing someone” but the difference between the two is significant. Being “needy” suggests that you’re desperate for the other person to take care of you. Needy people feel unable to care for themselves and even more importantly, they don’t feel they have something to offer their partner in return. That’s not the basis for a strong relationship, rather it sets up a power imbalance and can lead to one person feeling valued only for what they can give or do, rather than the emotional support and connection that can be created together.

But needing someone in your life is not a desperate plea for financial support or to be rescued emotionally from a bad situation. It is a natural part of the human experience, one that begins when we are infants and continues for the rest of our lives. There is no denying that people need other people and that is a valuable and empowering experience when you both understand your self-worth. Unlike our need for our parents as children, adults need to build relationships in which the give and take of support and compassion is reciprocal.

Develop your independence. 

When we consider that being interdependent with our significant other means mutual love and support, it makes sense that being independent is the first step. To develop interdependence in your relationship, you must first be your own person and value your ability to care for yourself. The goal is to be able to give and receive support, love, and encouragement from one another. This can only be accomplished by developing your own sense of self-worth and interests, independent of your partner. Even in relationships where one person may carry the bulk of the financial responsibility or one of you acts as the primary caregiver for your kids or home, it is still important to know that you are capable of doing these things on your own. By recognizing and continually strengthening your individual abilities you ensure that your need for one another is based on a healthy emotional connection rather than external obligations.

Be brave and say the words.

Just as much as we need to be self-sufficient and capable of meeting our own basic needs, we need to be loved and have reliable social support. Unfortunately one of the biggest obstacles to emotional closeness is our own unwillingness to ask for it. It can be scary to wear your heart on your sleeve yet the only way to find someone who will truly care for it is to make it available. Trust in the human desire for connection and tell your partner just how much you need them. This should not translate into, “I need you to take the dog to the vet,” or “I need you to pay my car note.” Instead, try saying “I had a really stressful day and I need to spend time with you,” or “You are so funny, I need that kind of laughter in my life.” Be clear that what you need most is to be a vital part of your partner’s life and for them to want to be a part of yours. It is that kind of mutual connection that can take your relationship from good to amazing.

Esther Boykin, LMFT
CEO, Group Therapy Associates, LLC
Marriage & Family Therapist | Writer
www.estherboykin.com | www.grouptherapyassociates.com

By Esther Boykin | Mar 10, 2015 | Comments 0
About the Author: Esther Boykin
Esther Boykin
Esther Boykin is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, Writer, and Relationship Expert. Ultimately, all of her work is about helping people have more loving, honest, and fulfilling relationships. Because the best romances aren’t found in books or movies, they happen in everyday moments between real people just like you. Connect with Esther today to learn how to: * Have better relationships with others or just yourself * Enhance amazing relationships * Be ready for a romantic relationship and plan to make the most of the opportunity when love comes knocking on your door * Whatever is going on in your life, Esther can lend an ear and (if you want it) a little advice.

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