A few weeks ago, I watched a video on YouTube about different wants and needs in a relationship and how to tell the difference between what is a relationship want, and what is a relationship need. The vlogger, Breeny Lee, hit the nail on the head when she said that a lot of us are prioritizing our wants over our needs when it comes to romantic relationships. Most of us have been conditioned to believe that our wants and needs are aligned. They’re not. Your needs should always triumph over your wants, especially when it comes to choosing a partner. Choosing the right partner is centered on identifying whether the the person you are dating meets your needs (in addition to being compatible), and not just one, but all of them.
To add to my earlier point, being a woman is tough but being a millennial woman is even tougher. Whether you’re married or not, I think it is safe to say that every woman has been subjected to unwanted advice comprising of a list of requirements that any man they even think about entertaining should have. This is so common in the African and Caribbean communities in particular. Women are told that in order for a man to be boyfriend or future husband material, he must own a four-wheel drive with a six-digit salary to match. He must also fit into the ‘tall dark handsome’ box perfectly. This is ridiculous. Only we know what it is that we actually want from a partner, but you’ll be surprised at just how many women base their preferences on what I have just mentioned and feel no way about doing so. The problem with fixating your preferences with your wants in mind is that you’ll have neglected every need you may possibly have in the process.
Having a partner who ticks all the boxes is great but are your needs being met? A relationship comprises of two people, but it is YOUR responsibility to make sure you are happy. Being with someone who drives a nice car? Also great, but if they can’t support you or speak life into anything you have going on (either professionally or outside work) and this bothers you a great deal, then your needs are not being met.
The reality we live in right now is that our society is obsessed with looks. It doesn’t matter where we turn, we are reminded about the importance of prioritizing our outer appearance before anything else: whether it’s the attractive model advertising a new face cream or the influencer promoting a new beauty product that’s guaranteed to give you flawless skin. Of course there are many other examples, but I’m sure you know where I’m going with this. We are more self-conscious than we have ever been. 40% of UK millennials are considering having a cosmetic treatment in the next year alone, so imagine what the stats must be like in 2019? And it’s not just the looks department, there’s a lot of pressure heaped on millennials to keep up with The Joneses. Competition and comparison among millennials have sadly become the norm, regardless of the latter being incredibly destructive.
A lot of us will be judged for our outer appearance, which is a shame, but the point I want to make in this post is that it takes more than the visual and the physical to make a relationship work. A want is temporary and even though they may induce feelings of satisfaction and gratification in the short term, they may not necessarily serve you in the long term. Needs are defined as something that is needed in order to live, succeed or be happy. In the context of a potential or existing relationship, if any need you have isn’t being met then thriving individually and as part of a unit will not be possible.
In my early 20’s, I had no idea of what it was I wanted in a partner. I’m sure I’m not alone with this frame of thought. It’s only as you get older that you start to get an idea of what it is you really want (and most of the time, you figure this out when you are on the receiving end of some of the worst treatment). Being trapped in what was probably the unhealthiest relationship I had ever been in was a huge wake up call. It taught me about the importance of sticking to your standards and it also taught me about the importance of assessing your standards. I was faced with the reality that I had probably spent a large part of my 20’s putting my wants over my needs, and then wondering why I always felt depleted whenever a relationship ended. When looking for or getting into a relationship, if your wants overpower your needs, then there are a few things that you will need to consider:
Do you have a habit of settling for less than you deserve? I have seen (and heard) stories about so many people who settle for less. They can’t see the wood from the trees, so they fail to be accountable for the choices that they make and before you know it, they are in another lacklustre relationship. Acknowledging that you tend to settle doesn’t put you at a disadvantage – if anything it’s the revelation that you need in order to get your personal life back on track. People who settle tend to prioritize their wants over their needs – and most of the time it’s because they believe they aren’t worthy of anything that’s actually worth having. Certain circumstances and situations can impact our perception of self. I came across a very thought provoking and inspiring quote which I will end this point with: “The past is a place of reference, not a place of residence; the past is a place of learning, not a place of living.” – Roy T Bennett
If you are struggling with self-love or self-worth, then what I would say to you is that you need to love yourself in the way that you hope to be loved one day. As Ru Paul (my favourite drag legend) says: ‘If you don’t love yourself, how in the hell you gonna love somebody else?’
No standards or expectations have been set – When you develop an image of your ideal partner in your head, thinking realistically is important. A person’s character stands the test of time. When it comes to character, the focus turns to you. Which traits are important to you? What would you value the most in someone you are dating or your current partner? Thinking about what it is you need will allow you to focus on the things that actually matter. Your standards are always aligned with your expectations and this will help you in your dating life. If you are on the experiencing end of anything you know doesn’t sit well with you, then it’s pretty clear that you may be watering dead plants.
Not knowing why you are dating or in a relationship – There is a huge amount of pressure inflicted on millennials when it comes to dating. Whether it’s the pushy family friend or the magazine article telling women not to ‘settle down too late’, it can make being single seem like such a burden. If you’ve decided to start dating, then date with purpose. There’s no point in being consumed by the concept of free (or partially paid for) meals or romantic walks by the river if you don’t have a goal in mind. If you know that you would like to be in a relationship, then think about your reasons for this and how you feel a partner can (and should) add value to your life. Dating recklessly is an extreme sport and I honestly feel like it opens up the road to disaster. If you don’t know why you are dating then you may need to ask yourself a few questions.
Issues with self-worth – At some point in our lives, we have all struggled with issues relating to self-worth and self-confidence. These issues only seem to multiply as we get older. Keeping in tune with yourself is something that not a lot of people know how to do when they decide to date. Some people just like the idea of anyone showing interest in them, and while this is great, you also need to be cautious of any red flags or anything else that may be coming your way. Not all dating periods have a crappy ending. Dating is a great way to learn more about yourself and others in the process but love and admiration for yourself has got to be at the heart of any decisions you may make. There’s a big difference between having a ‘me me me’ attitude and loving yourself. Loving yourself isn’t selfish, it’s necessary. If you don’t set the standard for how you want to be treated, which also includes holding yourself in high regard, then the likelihood of you putting up with anything and everything is probable.
If your self-worth is low, you’ll instantly fall under the belief that your wants are more important than your needs. You’ll be more likely to seek a potential partner with your needs in mind because you’ll be under the belief that they will compensate for your self-love deficit. You are the only person responsible for your happiness. Nobody should place that responsibility on someone else.
People pleasing – People pleasers struggle to understand what it is that they want. They walk on egg shells with the hope of not tripping up. Their main goal is to be liked or loved, even if it means putting their sanity on the line (in extreme cases). People pleasing in a relationship is a sure-fire way to place yourself in destruction’s path. Obsessing over the needs of another person is risky. What happens over time is that you’ll start to experience feelings of emptiness, and this will unfortunately start to bring you down. If you are tired of giving and giving without getting much in return, then you are a people-pleaser. Don’t let helplessness consume you. You deserve to be in a relationship where your views, opinions and presence matters.
Prioritize what you require over what you desire
I hope you’ve all enjoyed reading this post – thank you so much for all your likes, comments, retweets, everything. What’s your take on wants and needs in a relationship? Have you ever found yourself prioritizing one over the other? Feel free to leave a comment below – I’m always happy to hear from you all xo