Competing Needs

I feel confused and I would like to get your advice. I’ve been going to therapy for some months now and I began to recognize a lot of patterns in my mind (my default setting) and some things I don’t want to admit to myself. Like feelings of not being good enough, not knowing my purpose, difficulties with people that are close to me. The most difficult thing for me to reveal was that the romantic relationship I am in doesn’t fulfill my needs. (I would like to have a home, a family and kids – and my boyfriend doesn’t feel like this is something that he wants at the moment or something that he can promise we will have.)

Once I was able to see that, it was like something clicked and I lost faith in me and my boyfriend. It is like my perspective changed from what our future could look like to how we will break up.

And now I feel stuck. On one hand I am trying to not be so “needy” and let things flow and see what the future might hold. I really do love him and I would like to try my best. But on the other hand I feel like I am fooling myself, thinking I can get over my needs and it’s more likely that I will be bitter for not getting what I want from the relationship.

Could you offer me some advice? Is there a way for me to know how powerful my needs are and if I should listen to them? Is it possible for me to get over them or maybe I shouldn’t try? I have tried to meditate on this subject tens of times and I didn’t find any answers.

 

Hello dear Friend,
Thank you for your letter and your trust.

‘I began to recognize a lot of patterns in my mind (my default setting) and some things I don’t want to admit to myself. Like feelings of not being good enough, not knowing my purpose, difficulties with people that are close to me…’

Welcome to the club!

‘The most difficult thing for me to reveal was that the romantic relationship I am in doesn’t fulfill my needs. Once I was able to see that, it was like something clicked and I lost faith in me and my boyfriend. It is like my perspective changed from what our future could look like to how we will break up.’

Once again: Welcome to the club! It happened to me too on several occasions…

‘And now I feel stuck. On one hand I am trying to not be so “needy” and let things flow and see what the future might hold. I really do love him and I would like to try my best. But on the other hand I feel like I am fooling myself, thinking I can get over my needs and it’s more likely that I will be bitter for not getting what I want from the relationship.’

What I don’t understand is why you refer to wanting to have a family as a “need”, but to wanting to stay in your relationship as something else. They are both needs! Yes, you love him, but you are also a very sensitive and beautiful human being and I have no doubt that given the right circumstances you could easily love the whole human population!

The need to have a family is not YOUR need; it is the need of life. Life put that need in our genes, especially in those of women, so that the human race will not disappear from the planet. It is absolutely and completely valid to take care of and to validate that need.

But it is really not that different from the need to stay with your boyfriend. We also have needs for protection and company, and if he happens to be a nice man then those needs will feel even more in the right.

So, both of them are needs, and both of them are valid. And so the question becomes: what should I order, coffee or tea? And of course I don’t know the answer. I don’t know which one of them is more necessary for you… And it will probably not be an easy choice, but difficult choices are a very common occurrence in life…

It reminds me of the movie ‘Sophie’s Choice’. I guess, compared to that one, all other choices are relatively easier…

 

But let me add something. One reason why I think this becomes so difficult to deal with is that on top of the need to procreate and that for security and company, we also have another very powerful need: the need to be happy. And I believe that your confusion is because you are not sure which of these two possibilities is going to make you happier in the end. It is true that one of the two (depending on your conditioning) is surely going to make you happier than the other, but neither of them, in the end, is going to give you the happiness that you truly seek. I often talk about this: nothing outside of ourselves is going to makes us truly happy. Not a family, not company, not security, nothing. Why? Two reasons: One is because everything changes; we change, other people change, circumstances change and whatever gave us happiness before is sooner or later not going to give us the same happiness. And the second and more important is because anything that comes from outside does not have in itself the power to truly satisfy us. It is like having a cookie when you feel depressed; it may help you a bit, but it will definitely not cure your depression. The sense of dissatisfaction with life is our deepest and most sacred call for Truth, and that call will not be silenced by anything coming from the outside. Only the recognition of our own sense of unity with all that exist, the realization of our own inner contentment independent of what may or may not happened outside (this is only a way to say it) can give you the satisfaction that you seek.

So, in my understanding, what you can do in this situation is validate your needs, see which one of them is more powerful in your psyche and, as painful as it will be, chose that one and let go of the other. And see that even the one you let go of now may return later in a different form… or not.

I hope this helps.

But please do not hesitate to write me back if something that I say is not clear enough or if you have any other doubts.

 

 

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