I am excited to have guest post blogger Shanyn Silinski from “the Scarred Seeker” writing for Emerging from Broken today on the topic of “I want you” vs “I need you” and the psychological abuse that surrounds this subject. As always, please let us know your thoughts ~ Darlene Ouimet, founder of Emerging from Broken
Want Me? Need Me? Relationship Dysfunction By Shanyn Silinski
Meatloaf has a song called, Two Outta Three Ain’t Bad where he sings the lyrics “ I want you, I need you, but there ain’t no way I’m ever going to love you, but don’t be sad, cause two outta three ain’t bad.”
I’ve always wondered about that, and when I was younger it didn’t make sense. It does now but raises another set of questions which maybe are more relevant to survivors. The differences between want and need.
Considering my family, and the boundaries I’m putting in place for sanity and emotional safety I’ve discovered an amazing thing. Not just with them but with so many other people. It all falls into the world of want or need.
A friend of mine has a sibling. They both have children. The grandma loves both her grandchildren very much, but one needs her and the other wants her. Keeping in mind these are children, which one do you think she spends the most time with? You’ll be saying she will spend most of her time with the child that needs her and you’d be right. Before you think the wants her grandchild has less of a need for his Grandma let me assure you neither child is in a situation where they actually need anything but their special time with grandma. But what makes the need me grandchild easier? Why is the wants you grandchild easier to ignore? Hold on to that thought as I take you down a different path.
I’ve been learning the hard way that being wanted and being needed are not only vastly different but in a healthy relationship not always compatible. Then there are those folks who need to be wanted and conversely want to be needed. Sometimes in healthy ways but many times not so much.
Loving someone, wanting to be with them is very different than needing that someone. I almost always cringe at the cards, songs or movies where the lovers need each other more than life. That is not real. That is not a message to send children! I survived, you survived, and we are with those we want to be with and have learned to (or are learning as I am) stay away from those who need us in an unhealthy way. Babies need their caregivers, so do the wounded, the lost, the injured and we learn to either depend on them or live without them as best we can.
I wanted to be needed for the things I’m good at or for just who I am. I do not want to play the need to be wanted game with anyone, for any reason. I want to care about your heart, your health, your spirit and well being. I don’t need to be impressed by your status and I sure don’t need you to want me to increase your fan base.
Spending time with family or friends should be about wanting each other’s company not because someone needs you to want them. That need, that drive for your full and undivided attention to them is unhealthy. Sadly, as I’ve travelled down my healing path I’ve discovered that the people who I thought wanted me didn’t. Not the me who is healing and not the me who isn’t impressed with them being important. They don’t want my ideas, my laughter or my songs.
They never did! I just wasn’t healthy enough to know the difference! I didn’t know that you could stand on your own and be okay. I didn’t know that it was healthy to want something but not need it. I had been taught that love was an obligation, which being needed for nothing was more important than being wanted for something. After all I was taught for most of my life that at the very least I was needed for fulfilling their need for control. I was taught to take the abuse because I was obligated to they needed me for that role. When I STOPPED being available, when their NEED wasn’t met then my life, my wishes to be wanted were revealed to have no value. I was being taught a very wrong lesson about need and want. One that has taken me a very long time to find my personal key to understanding it.
I’m sure some of that is cultural and taught by circumstance but that is not an excuse. I’m not excusing it, even as I begin to understand it. I understood it only because it was singularly one sided. The victim, the audience, the props are never centre stage and they have no independent role to play. I wasn’t being a good victim anymore, so I was not filling the need to be wanted and therefore there wasn’t anything left for me to offer. They have tried to get me back into that role but the more I resist, the less they try. It is an effort, of course, to keep a hold on someone who knows what your game is and can stay out of reach.
The realization hit me like a box of bricks! I was sad when I couldn’t do the things I was good at for people I cared about because I didn’t understand that I couldn’t be what they needed and they didn’t want what I could give so freely! It is a strange lesson to learn, to discover that the wanting isn’t as sexy as the needing. It isn’t as filling for those who prefer to be needed than wanted.
What freedom though to understand that! It hurts too. I want them to be interested grandparents and I wanted to help my so-called friends but in the end because they weren’t needed enough, they weren’t being fulfilled by empty adoration and attention they ended up with nothing. And I’ve walked away with some tear stains and a really clear concept of how tangled up wanting to be needed and needing to be wanted can be.
Shanyn Silinski is an outspoken survivor who writes, creates and lives life as fully as she can with her husband, son and the animals on their small ranch in Manitoba. The author of a number of blogs, a book of poetry with two more in the works, Shanyn also sculpts, scrapbooks and loves having fun with photography. Please visit her blog about emotional healing ~ “The Scarred Seeker”