Loving Without Needing
By Gabriella Kortsch, Ph.D.
People tend to fall in love with someone who - on the surface - is their idea of, if not the ideal partner, at least close to what they are looking for in a partner - but who underneath the surface - fulfills some of their more important needs. This is a dangerous path to be on in a relationship, and more so, if you are not aware of it, as generally is the case. It's dangerous, simply stated, because as long as you depend on another to fulfill your needs, or some of your needs, you are not free. I'm not talking about being free of others in the sense of not wanting to be with others but in the sense of not needing them for your inner well-being, because you are able to create that for yourself. The benefit of such a life is that you love from a position of independence rather than from one of dependence.
- Think for a moment of the one you love (or loved at some other time of your life). What happened inside of you if that person was annoyed or moody? Did something in you shrivel, cringe, worry? Or did something in you desperately make you try to 'fix' whatever it was that was going on with your partner? Or did something in you immediately assume that the reason your partner was in a bad mood was because of something you had done? Clearly, in this example (and there are many other versions), your happiness and inner well-being are so wrapped up in your partner's state of being, that you are in a sense enslaved - even though your partner may have never asked you to be this way.
- Another example is when your sense of confidence and security is wrapped up in how much your partner is under your control. In a way, this example has the same common denominator as the earlier example, simply because at the root of it all, your happiness and inner well-being depends on how secure your partner makes you feel as long as you believe he/she is behaving in a way that you need them to behave so that you can feel that security and confidence. This means, of course, that you will always be checking up on him/her, calling frequently, trying to control who is in his/her life, what activities they participate in, etc. Once again, as in the earlier example, your happiness and inner well-being are so wrapped up in your partner's state of being, that you are in a sense enslaved - even though your partner may have never asked you to be this way.
- Yet another situation that occurs with frequency (and you may - initially - laugh when you read this), is how immensely good we feel and lovable we believe ourselves to be when we are with the beloved. You may ask me in astonishment what could possibly be wrong with such a scenario? It's this: if you feel this way whether you have a partner or not, then there is nothing wrong with it. Quite the contrary, in that case, I would shake your hand to congratulate you on a life well lived. However, when those good or being lovable feelings only emerge when you are with your partner and hold yourself firmly in the belief that he/she does indeed love you, but you tend to fall apart when something is amiss in the relationship (even if it's only a lifted eyebrow, or a dark mien, as in the first example here), then we have all the indicators that you are in this relationship because something in your partner fulfills needs for you that you are meant to have learned how to fulfill yourself. And that the most likely scenario that will ultimately occur for you, is that you will find yourself being abandoned in some fashion by the partner, suffer intense emotional pain, feel, perhaps, strong sensations of anger and a desire for revenge, feel victimized, etc., only to possibly repeat this pattern again with another partner or two ... until you wake up and realize that it is you who is meant to make you feel this way and not your partner. Just as in the earlier examples, your happiness and inner well-being are so wrapped up in your partner's state of being, that you are in a sense enslaved - even though your partner may have never asked you to be this way.
How can you find your way out of this miasma? Begin by becoming conscious of your need for another's behavior dictating your well-being. This is not about a partner who does not fulfill your expectations, or a partner who is not doing what you would wish them to do, but about an individual - you - who is not taking care of, in a loving way, of your own needs.
To begin this process it is necessary to become aware, self-responsible and self-loving. A brief summation of three fundamental concepts for a life of inner freedom, filled with inner well-being, peace, harmony, and joy follows:
Being Aware: Without awareness there is no self-reflection. Without self-reflection you are unable to comprehend what happens to you other than in knee-jerk fashion. Hence it is paramount that you begin to become aware of all you feel, think, say and do, as well as all your reactions to events and others in order that you may be able to exercise choice at all times. If someone insults you and you are not aware, you will react blindly and insult back. If you are aware, you may choose to ignore the person, or reply in another fashion that does not put your inner well-being at stake. By being aware you know yourself in ways someone who is not aware does not. Therefore when you are attracted to someone you will begin to pay very close attention to many factors, both within you and within the other. This alone will put you on a totally different path than someone who does not pay attention and simply falls in love.
Being Self-Responsible: Without taking on responsibility for the self in all ways: being responsible for what you think, feel, say, and do, and how you react to all that occurs in your life, you will never be truly free because you will continually place the responsibility (blame) for what occurs on someone or something, and likewise, you will place the responsibility for how you think and feel on others or on specific circumstances. Further, you will never truly find inner peace for all the same reasons. Therefore, when you take the conscious decision to become truly responsible for the self, you begin to live a life where it is indeed possible to love without needing.
Loving the Self: Without recognizing the fundamental and primordial need to love the self, and doing so consciously, step by step, by learning how to do so by taking on responsibility for the self and all that the self feels and thinks, as mentioned above, you will not find true joy, inner peace, and freedom, because you will not be taking true and loving care of yourself. When you feel out of sorts, angry, impatient, or anything other than being in a space of inner well-being, loving the self means that you will take care of that feeling and do something about it in order to shift your inner energy in order that you may at the very least find yourself in a space of inner balance and tranquility. In similar fashion, if you find that you are reacting to something - anything - in a way that is creating turmoil of any kind, loving the self again means that you will take loving care of the self in order to once again come - at the very least - to a place of inner balance. Loving the self is one of the behaviors that most people are lacking in and is, perhaps, the most important one of all to learn. By loving the self, the other two - being aware and self-responsible - fall into place, because it is impossible to love the self without becoming aware and self-responsible.
I wish you much joy on your journey - the greatest journey of all - the voyage into the self.