OK, I know it’s been a few weeks since my last post…I’m one of those people who has big dreams, limited follow through and poor organization…but that’s for another post. Back to needs!
I think the best place to start with the topic of needs would be: What are they? Some may say all we need is air, water, food and shelter. If we are merely talking about physical survival that is true. It starts to get a bit more complicated as we look at the deeper layers of what it means to be human. Research has shown that emotional and physical connection with others are as important to surviving and thriving as the basic life sustaining ingredients of air, water, food and shelter. So now the list of needs may read: air, water, food, shelter, emotional connection and physical connection with other human beings. The additions raise some questions. What kind of emotional and physical connection with human beings is necessary for survival? Prisoners in concentration camps had physical and emotional connections with human beings which resulted in death. No, those don’t count. We need certain kinds of connection with others. Connections that breathe life, hope, and healing into us. What does that look like for you? Just as each of us is unique, so are our needs. There may be some similarities from person to person, but there is not a one-size-fits-all when it comes to needs. What works for one person may not work for another.
I want to create a bridge here between needs based on mere survival to needs that enhance the quality of our lives and relationships. The latter are the type of needs we will focus on for the remainder of this series of blogs on needs. First we’ve established basic needs for survival. Now we will look at how those needs manifest themselves in our relationships. Although we can survive without some of our relational needs being met, we are not truly thriving or reaching our full potential. I can live without touch in my marriage, but the quality of my connection with my husband plummets when a hug, handhold or some sort of body to body contact are non-existent. There is something about this type of non-sexual physical connection through touch that increases the intimacy in our relationship. On the opposite side, one of my daughters does not enjoy very much physical contact. Hugs are seldom given or received. She needs me to sit and connect with her verbally. She wants me to listen to her, to interact with her through conversation. That is how she experiences an increase in intimacy with people.
Mmmm…I’m hearing something about my use of intimacy. I’m not using it with any sexual reference. Intimacy in this case refers to deeply knowing and connecting with another person. It’s the space in relationships where we let our guard down. I feel safe with the other person and allow her in to the secret, well protected parts of my heart. Because she is safe, I allow myself to be fully exposed in the relationship. Typically this type of connection is two-way.
Now to you. What are your needs in relationships? What elements are necessary for you to connect and feel connected to another person? Is it touch, verbal connection, spending time together? There are many needs, not just the few I’ve pointed out. Each of us also has more than one need in relationships. We’ll delve into our individual needs more in the next part but for now, begin to simmer in understanding what your needs are.