Sunday, October 11, 2009

Some Weighty Thoughts

I’ve been thinking a lot about want vs. need after an exchange yesterday with a good friend whose relationship with her partner is evolving. It would seem ideal to balance the two as we attempt to create a lasting relationship.

When we first meet a potential partner, want usually predominates and gets complicated by things like lust and jealousy and commitment as we struggle through those early days that so often can make or break a relationship. Want is that attraction that helps a relationship solidify, that reciprocal emotion that validates us.

But as time takes over, need can come to the forefront as mental and physical health issues sometimes become important. Even practical matters like who walks the dog or who does the grocery shopping translate into need. The trick is in balancing being needed and neediness. I can’t imagine a long-lasting relationship that doesn’t include a heavy dose of need.

After as many years as I have been with my spouse the two concepts of want and need have become inextricably linked. I know for a fact that I need him in so many ways to do and be the things that he does and is, and I believe he needs me in similar but different ways. This need is underscored when one of us goes out of town without the other.

Fortunately want has not disappeared totally from the picture. We still share a bed and enjoy each other’s company. The fire that once burned is sort of like a pilot light now, but it has not been extinguished.

A relationship where need and want were diminishing would be a cause for concern. Passing like ships in the night after sharing intimacy and significant life experiences would indeed evoke great sadness.


Anonymous Mary L. Tabor said...

Thank you, Barbara, for finding and reading my memoir. And what a sensitive comment you wrote on "Hat Trick." I am glad now to have found you. --Mary

8:59 AM  
Anonymous Mary L. Tabor said...

And, I want to add that I found your post here both tender and wise.

9:32 AM  
Blogger Barbara said...

Mary -- I'm happy to add you to my link list. I look forward to exploring your memoirs at greater length!

9:33 AM  
Blogger bozoette said...

Lovely post. It is indeed a balance; as the weight of "want" and "need" shifts, we have sometimes have to regain that balance. It keeps love interesting!

10:06 AM  
Blogger Barbara said...

Bozoette -- Isn't all of life just one big balancing act? Aren't you glad you had circus training? :)

2:11 PM  
Blogger Steve said...

Very thought-provoking! I especially identify with the part about balancing need and neediness -- I often worry about appearing needy, but at the same time I want to express some level of need. Know what I mean?

3:07 PM  
Blogger Barbara said...

Steve -- I am always reminded that no man is an island, as John Donne so correctly said. It's sort of like knowing how to receive is just as important as knowing how to give. We have to get over the shame of feeling needy from time to time.

4:43 PM  

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