FINDING A RELATIONSHIP THAT MEETS YOUR NEEDS
Valentine’s Day fills the air with romance. While those in relationships plan special nights, others who long for a relationship dream about how to obtain their perfect mate. Our modern world seemingly puts relationships at our finger tips. Our perfect mate is just one click away. You can connect to hundreds of prospects via online dating sites and apps. With so many options today’s singles stand a better chance of finding their perfect relationship without having to settle; yet so many still struggle to find Prince Charming or Lady Devine.
This got me to thinking about what I wanted in a relationship in my 20s and early 30s versus what I accidentally found made me happy in my 40s. As I pondered this thought, I wondered if this was due to me changing over time, or was I out of touch with myself at that point in my life. It eventually occurred to me that I was more on target with what I actually needed in a relationship as a teenager before I was ever in my first serious relationship.
It did not seem possible that a teenager, who is not supposed to know anything about how the world really works, especially when it comes to love and relationships, could have known better than my adult self in my 20s and 30s. The turmoil of relationships while in college is supposed to be a necessary process to discovering ourselves before we settle down and have children. Even so the divorce rate continues to hover around 50% as our society moves toward marriage after careers have been established. So what went wrong in my process? I followed all the rules, but failed miserably before reaching my 40s and accidentally falling into exactly what I needed.
There is no real way to test my theory for certainty, but I think I came up with a pretty could hypothesis. I was a fairly serious teenager. I was focused on school and activities that were going to serve me as a successful career minded adult. I had crushes like any other girl, but I was far from boy crazy. My ideal relationship was based on what I knew about myself without it being clouded by the longing for a relationship.
Once I reached the point in my life that I had the time and space to begin thinking about a serious relationship the world got in my way. I did not have the convenience of online dating or apps, but I also do not think those would have changed my experience much. If anything, it may have complicated the process. As I dated I lost focus of what I really needed.
When you are not in a relationship and you think about what you want, you only consider your needs. The unknown variable is what your partner will need from you. As time goes by your desire for a relationship begins to erode your commitment to finding the person who meets your needs. You begin to compromise. Sometimes you think those compromises are necessary in order for you to meet the other person’s needs. We all know that relationships have to be give and take. Therefore, we give up what we need in order to be a good partner for the other person.
The reality in doing that is our need does not magically go away. We are actually accepting that a hole will exist in the relationship. We tell ourselves that we will be okay with that hole. Over time the void grows larger, eventually ending the relationship. We repeat this process over and over until one day we no longer know what we really need in order to maintain a successful and happy relationship.
My teenage daughter is very much like me. I thought it would be interesting to see if she had similar thoughts about the perfect boyfriend as I did at her age. I asked her to text me her list of boyfriend requirements. The list below is written in her words.
Boyfriend Material List:
- Has to have a sense of humor, but still knows how to take things seriously
- Shows me he cares about me not just be buying me stuff. I want him to actually listen to me when I need to get things off my chest, show affection, lend me his hoodie when I’m cold, show up when he says he is going to, and not blow me off, because he got a better offer from his friends.
- Somebody that is taller than me
- I would prefer somebody older than me, but I would still date somebody my own age.
- Somebody that doesn’t focus on sex (This is a big one! If you ask me for inappropriate pictures, your butt better be prepared to get kicked and your lips better be prepared to kiss my butt goodbye.)
- Somebody that has the same interests as I do, such as music, books, animals, movies, tv shows and outdoor activities.
- Somebody that would be willing to hang out with me and my friends sometimes
- Somebody that would include me with their friends and has friends that I like (If I don’t like any of his friends, it could be a bad sign that he isn’t who he wants me to think he is)
- Somebody that is independent and won’t always rely on me for everything and doesn’t have to text me every 5 minutes
- Somebody that is sweet and nice, but isn’t a push over (I don’t want somebody that lets people walk all over him, because that shows he wouldn’t be able to defend me when I need him to)
She probably does not know it now, but her list tells us something very important about what she needs to focus on when looking for a serious relationship later in life. Many of her desired attributes relate to security. At this point she is not concerned about the aspect of employment, but as she enters adult life, it is likely that she will also need someone that gives her a sense of financial security as well.
If you seem to be struggling with finding that perfect relationship, try writing down what you need. Go back to the young version of you, before you began to compromise your needs out of a desire to just have a long term relationship of any kind. Take a look at your needs with your adult filter.
With my daughter’s list above, it is unlikely that she picks up on security as her top priority. You have the advantage of examining your list with the knowledge of the adult world. See if there are things that stand out to you. Maybe you never realized that your teenage wishes actually pointed to relevant adult characteristics. You may find that you knew exactly what you needed, but compromised so many times along your journey that you lost sight of your needs in trying to meet someone else’s.
I hear the “yeah, but what about their needs” coming. If your needs cannot be met by this person, you will not be able to meet their needs no matter how hard you try. You must be fulfilled in order to fill someone else up. When you stop wasting your time compromising who you are and what you need, you will no longer continue to be hurt by relationships that do not work out. You will know right away that this person cannot fulfill you. You will be doing both of you a favor by moving on after a few dates, rather than struggling to keep a relationship going that will fail at some point anyway.
Another very important factor in staying true to yourself is you attract what you put out. When you are confident in yourself, you know what you need, and you know that you deserve to have your needs met, you will attract someone who will meet those needs. You will also find that a person who can meet your needs will have needs that are complimentary to what you have to give.
I said that I accidentally fell into this perfect for me relationship. It came at a point in my life where I had no choice but to look out for me and my daughter. There was no room for me to accept anything from anybody other than exactly what we needed. I removed some people from my life at that point in time. Some of them were family and longtime friends, who were holding me back. The only people I allowed into our lives were those who were going to be positive influences. It was through this process that I met my husband. I was not looking for a relationship. As things settled down for me, our friendship turned to a romantic relationship.
It is not a perfect relationship. We have honest conversations about what we need regularly. I have learned to hold my tongue when he is tired. I can make that compromise, because I do not need to say whatever is on my mind right when it pops in my head. I can wait to talk about things until he has had time to relax and get food in his stomach. Those are the kinds of compromises that you should be willing to make in a relationship.
Finding a relationship that meets your needs requires you to know your needs, not lose sight of those needs, and be unwilling to compromise your needs. Keeping a relationship that meets your needs requires you to compromise on the small stuff that does not erode who you are, but allows the other person to have their needs met.