Singletude: A Positive Blog for Singles

Singletude is a positive, supportive singles blog about life choices for the new single majority. It's about dating and relationships, yes, but it's also about the other 90% of your life--family, friends, career, hobbies--and flying solo and sane in this crazy, coupled world. Singletude isn't about denying loneliness. It's about realizing that whether you're single by choice or by circumstance, this single life is your life to live.

Friday, February 22, 2008

I've Got What You Need: Identifying Relational Needs

First off, a big thank you to Singletude readers for your patience during the hardware upgrade. The new computer is settling in and starting to look at home in its surroundings. :)

While searching for some data to support a Singletude post, I stumbled across this web site. Entitled Commitment: Get Married Soon, it’s obviously aimed at single women who are chomping at the bit to cross the marital finish line. Ignore the intended audience for a minute, though, and instead of that bit, chomp on the food for thought in “Lesson One.” The unnamed author’s advice is universal and applies to both sexes, in any kind of relationship–-romantic, platonic, familial, or otherwise.

In case you’re pressed for time, I’ll sum it up: Your love can go deeper than the Titanic, but your relationship isn’t going to be satisfying unless you meet each other’s needs. Yes, I know–cue the Marvin Gaye, massage oil, and a bottle of Chardonnay, right? Okay, we need to be on the same page with those needs, too, but this extends beyond the boudoir.

The article introduces the concept of inherent needs rooted in the variations of personality that make us so fascinating yet incomprehensible to each other. These relational needs, whether biologically based or socialized at an early age, are, nevertheless, undeniable. Examples include the dichotomous needs to be a caretaker or be taken care of, be a leader or be a follower, have a trophy or be a trophy, be distant or be close, and be verbal or be physical. I’m sure there are many more. Some of them are unusual, and many are politically incorrect, but humans didn’t evolve in a court of law.

Not surprisingly, the article contends that the relationships that work best are those in which both parties meet each other’s needs. According to the article, if a fundamental need is unmet for too long, the unfulfilled partner will grow restless and want out.

So, no problem. Just give the person a generous helping of what they need, fill them up on nurture or intellectual stimulation or intimacy and everything will be fine, right?

Of course it’s not that simple. The catch is that what the other person needs has to be something you can and want to give, and vice versa. Not only that, but you also must find the right proportional balance for those needs, which can be very tricky and is, in my opinion, why we so rarely find that perfect fit we call “the one.”

For instance, maybe you’re a woman dating a man with wanderlust. He needs someone who also has restless feet, who knows he’s literally going places and either wants to come along for the ride or is fine holding down the fort till he returns. If you can’t catch his travel bug, if you only tolerate but never really encourage his excursions to remote corners of the world with unpronounceable names, you’re going to run into problems because one of his primary needs in a partner isn’t being met.

Or maybe you’re a man dating a woman who’s organized and likes to plan. She feels more comfortable when she’s the one to arrange your parties, evenings out, and day trips. In this case, you have to be the kind of guy who isn’t interested in the particulars of your leisure time together and would rather someone else take that load off your shoulders. Again, if you secretly resent that she manages your social calendar, your ire is going to smolder till it consumes you both.

To varying degrees, the same bargain is also struck in non-romantic relationships. For example, most of us are familiar with that perennial Hollywood duo, the hero and his sidekick. But that dynamic isn’t confined to the silver screen. Go to any bar on a Saturday night, and you’ll see pairs of friends in which one is a talker, the other a listener; one is outgoing, the other reserved; one is a storyteller, the other cracks the punch lines. Or step into your office, and watch this same give-and-take play out between co-workers or employers and employees. Over here’s the curmudgeonly boss soothed by his sweet, compliant secretary. Over there, Jane and John are assigned to the same project because Jane is the creative visionary and John knows the devil is in the details. These dyads have become stereotypes because they’re based on real interpersonal patterns that arise from relational needs.

A primary reason why we often feel disconnected from each other is that it’s a near miracle to find that needle in a haystack who not only meets your kind of need but does so to the degree that you need it. Next time, Singletude will explore how this seemingly minor issue of degree can make or break a relationship, with special attention to communicational needs.

Do you know what your relational needs are? Have you ever had a relationship, romantic or otherwise, that either worked well or didn’t due to the compatibility of your relational needs? Tell us about it!

Fun Link of the Day


bobbyboy said...

Welcome back ^_^

"Do you know what your relational needs are?"

Yes, but finding a partner who also knows theirs is a bit tricky.

"Have you ever had a relationship, romantic or otherwise, that either worked well or didn’t due to the compatibility of your relational needs?"

Oh sure. It usually goes back to communication. I have but a handful of friends because I want a strait shooter, but a compassionate one as well.

I had a relationship one time where the lady wanted something different out of life than I did, but wasn't as honest about it until much later.
Other than a naturally occurring "Soul mate", there should be some give and take in a relationship. I tend to think that couples these days settle on compatibility. Possibly making themselves compatible to fit the relationship.

Clever Elsie said...

I want a strait shooter, but a compassionate one as well.

A delicate balance and, yes, hard to find.

I had a relationship one time where the lady wanted something different out of life than I did, but wasn't as honest about it until much later.

It's a shame that some people misrepresent themselves in hopes that an incompatible relationship will be better than no relationship at all. I never could understand the desire to do that. It's such a strain to pretend to be something you're not, and eventually the other person finds out anyway, after which Mr. or Ms. Wannabe looks very foolish.

Possibly making themselves compatible to fit the relationship.

The sad thing is that after all that pinching and pulling to wear a shoe the wrong still doesn't fit.