Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Needs versus Desires

I enjoy many wonderful and satisfying friendships with an exciting assortment of unique and delightful individuals who have blessed my life by knowing and accepting me as the person that I am. But, today I think about the absence of what we so lamely refer to as a “Significant Other."

I have discovered that what I want… really, really at the core of me want… in that Relationship of relationships… is to be desired, enjoyed, and appreciated. That doesn’t sound all that difficult, does it? Am I being so very unreasonable or demanding in this appetite? If not, then what doth hinder the realization of this desire? I am of the opinion that the hurdle lies in our world’s system of matching folks up by the “needs” of each other. We function on a needs basis rather than a desire motivation. Survival, not joy, is the stimulus. Thusly, what I offer at the table of economic benefit or social status is of more significance than the person of Me.

It seems to me that we are taught (by our culture) to seek someone who will enable us to know a sense of economic safety, security and status rather than someone who will add an element of embellishment to our already self-determined and independently established sufficiency. And therein lies the seed of discontent in so many relationships all around us.

We are encompassed about with people who have joined themselves to another for purposes of utilitarian and pedestrian necessity… survival… and are left with an unaddressed hunger for happiness, passion, adventure, silliness, and camaraderie. This is a great boon to the travel, entertainment, and recreation industries. For they are increasingly enriched by multitudes who are in relationships of necessity, compromise, and convenience, who seek fulfillment and satisfaction in superficial experiences… because there is no joy in the still quietude of intimate time alone with their partner in daily life. So “where shall we go?“, “what shall we do?”, “how shall we distract, amuse, and entertain ourselves?” become the ever-present questions. A whole lot of Antique collecting, Fishing, Golfing, Craft creation, Bowling, and other diversions are practiced to fill this vacuum. While small are the number of couples who have delight and fulfillment in simply “Being” together.

I am now of the opinion that a “needs-based” relationship is something that is a handicapped form of an undeveloped character and personality. To seek, in another, a means of satisfying a Need, is to construct a situation in which, once there is no longer a “need” for that ’other’… when the need is sated… when security is established…, discontent rises to the surface. Whereas, for us to establish our own security and identity as a self-complete individual … and then open ourselves to the possibility of someone who will add a dimension of celebration, enjoyment, appreciation, and good old desire to our lives… means that that person will be free to be Themselves… unencumbered by any burden of concern for the wholeness of the other person. We are then free to appreciate, celebrate, and enjoy each other for all of our individual qualities and potentials… unencumbered by requirements.

I have spent a goodly number of years addressing myself to the needs of others. There is nothing noble in this. It is, simply, an expression in life-style, of my temperament and personality type… what Myers-Briggs labels as an “INFP”, “Idealist/healer. And, after all the “needs” of all the people who Life has visited upon the scene of my life have been met… Surprise! … they don’t need me any longer. And I am left (you guessed it!)… alone. Now, mind you, I do not for a moment regret, nor have anything but appreciation for the countless opportunities that I have found satisfaction in, as I met the specific needs of others. But it has taken me until this juncture in life to recognize the reality that what was appreciated… what was appealing… what was desired of me… was not Me… but the satisfaction of that particular need present at the particular moment of my being welcomed into the life of that particular person. Embracing me has been (for them) a matter of their “survival”, and met their immediate need.

Now, those friends who I mentioned at the outset of this little treatise, are folk who are well established in themselves. And, for them, I am an enhancement to their already-balanced lives. So we enjoy and appreciate the added gift that our friendship brings to our respective lives. This is the stuff of enjoyable friendships. But, today, I am still yearning for that “special someone” who “has it all together” and finds, in me, that someone who brings a smile of happy and unabashed delight and makes life even richer. And, I will carefully identify and respect those situations of “neediness” and respond to them in appropriate ways. See there… I’m learning.

12 comments:

~Sharon said...

Need versus desire... Interior versus the exterior... Passion, adventure, silliness and camaraderie that someone offers versus
economic status... Discernment of the
relationship in total versus independent moments of passion, adventure,
silliness and camaraderie.

Then there is this one.. love should feel good.
http://www.dailyom.com/articles/2007/8681.html

And so we all learn... different paces, different paths, different distances.

To stop learning is to stop growing. What fun would that be?

~Sharon said...

Need versus desire... Interior versus the exterior... Passion, adventure, silliness and camaraderie that someone offers versus
economic status... Discernment of the
relationship in total versus independent moments of passion, adventure,
silliness and camaraderie.

Then there is this one.. love should feel good.
http://www.dailyom.com/articles/2007/8681.html

And so we all learn... different paces, different paths, different distances.

To stop learning is to stop growing. What fun would that be?

John-Michael said...

Ahhhhh... There you go! Thank you for allowing the germ of my shared ideas to spawn your own set of reflections. I am so very gratified. Way to go Sharon!! I love you.

Elizabeth said...

Wow... I just saw a commercial that told a wife that her husband would love her more and probably buy her nice jewelry from the other department if she would buy him the nice High Deffinition TV they sold.
Her face lights up and the sales icon closes with:
"Nothing says I Love You to a man like High Deff"
....sad....

John-Michael said...

And the drum-beat of our material world continues to drown out our heart's faint whisper "Just BE her lover", "Just BE his partner", Just BE there for each other." Thank you, Dear Elizabeth, for illustrating the sad point. By the way... I think that nothing says "I love you" like "I LOVE YOU." And I do.

Anonymous said...

These words are truly pearls of wisdom. I do think you have identified the more predominant human condition. I miss those days when people used to just visit to be together and enjoy one's company. That is a rarity now, and I am equally guilty!!

John-Michael said...

I copied and posted as "Anonymous" the above from an Email received from one of the most loving, caring, generous, and gracious human beings that I have ever had the blessing of knowing as Friend. I share it with you, Dear Reader, to allow you the opportunity to reflect on what is said... and the Spirit that accompanies it.

Anonymous said...

Isn't it funny how things get clearer with age? You're right on one hand...our desires can handicap us, but I don't believe fulfilling our "needs" do the same. E

John-Michael said...

Again, I copied the above reflection from an Email to allow All to benefit from it. And it demonstrates my shortcoming in not making more clear (in the article) my present intention to steer away from a potential partner who is "needy" in favor of one who is strong, healthy, self-confident, and open to a relationship with someone "desired."

Anonymous said...

I have been pondering the discussion of need as presented on your blog. Here's my slightly different slant on need:

We ARE pack animals like wolves, dogs. We are social beings, and from this springs the NEED for the "other." I value a compatible "other" because I "need" someone to be with, to love, to love me back, to build life with. I also DESIRE some things, but they are not very important.

A relationship where both parties recognize their own pack-need for the Significant Other is healthier than one where they don't, and have instead built a punch list of criteria based on their desires.

There is nothing wrong with needing, but it is important to separate needs from desires, to understand the difference. I KNOW what I NEED. It goes FAR, FAR beyond desire.
I NEED the special person and persons, the tribe, the family, the life partner, because of what I am. One of the pack. When I UNDERSTAND the depth of that need, then some or all of my desires may go unfilled and not mourned, and my partnerships become more honest. I enjoy other people in general, but the few I let into my life, I adore. They are my pack.

John-Michael said...

I feel so good! My friends are "pondering" their lives needs and desires. This is a very encouraging thing. So, again, I copied and posted the above Email for the consideration of All. For the product of anyone's pondering is worthy of the consideration of All.

Geo said...

In the old Disney show a coined phrase that came from the bad guys was, "It isn't easy being wanted when you're wanted". But being wanted is what is wanted. Desired, enjoyed, and appreciated are forms of someone wanting you... But then there is the issue of infatuation vs. genuine love.

You may not always want to be with your mate, but you never want to be with anyone else.

Many people don't seem to understand what "Love" really is. Being wanted is part of it, but Love is so much more then just that.

To know if it is "Love" you have to ask yourself these things...

If this person and I came of an age where this person makes a mess of themselves because they couldn't get to the bathroom fast enough, would I, could I, be the one that would clean him/her up without a second thought? And if the situation was reversed would I know that my mate would care for me? Mutual Devotion to the relationship...

Everyday is not a perfect day. We have feelings, emotions to explore, habits that are formed through the years and aren't likely to be broken easily. Disagreements that will need compromise. But before compromise can be achieved there will be many conflicts along the way. If I were to have an absolute tantrum, would I know deep inside that this person would never leave me? Would I never feel this person's thoughts are going to be "Oh great, our relationship is over." If it were reversed, would you feel like running? Safty and Security in the relationship...

If you lost your job of 25 years and had difficulty finding employment, would your mate stand beside you, or turn away... When the burning embers fade, (which they naturally do) will you know that your mate will not seek comfort else where? Trust and Faith in each other.

In the end, with all our greatness and all our not so greatness, the ones left standing beside you are the ones that truely love you.

To be desired, enjoyed, and appreciated can be infatuous to say the least. They are nice, but by themselves may be considerably shallow and self serving in the terms of love. These things come in a real relationship, but to love someone is far deeper than just that. But, remember always that love is not what you get from the relationship, it is what you put into the relationship.

May the peace of our Lord and Christ be with you in all ways...

~Geo

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