When it comes to wants, needs, and desires, there is a plethora of work on everything from how we discover what we want, to how we communicate our desires in a way that invites someone to want to fulfill them, to how we meet our own needs (thank you very much!). The insidious and pervading fallacy that colors all of this (incredible though it may be) work & study around wants, needs & desires is the inherent assumption that they (our desires, wants & needs) should be met.
The three typical options we have when it comes to our needs are 1) find another person (i.e. partner or friend) to fulfill them 2) fulfill them ourselves or 3) decide against having them.
Sit with that for a moment. Think of any practice, or body of work around desires, wants, or needs & notice that the underlying assumptions is that they must be met; that something is wrong – with us, the other person, the circumstances, or the relationship – if we aren’t getting our needs met. There is a deep & pervading belief that our needs must to be met in order for us to feel happy or good or lead a satisfying fulfilled life.
I believe this is due to the simple fact that having a need (want, or desire) can feel intense in our nervous system & very few people can truly sit with the feeling of desire itself, without trying to ‘meet’ (i.e. not feel) the desire.
Of course, I’m not talking about bottom-level Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs stuff, like food, water, shelter, security, etc. And it also must be said that abuse and neglect are obviously things that need to be addressed in relationships.
However, there is something powerful & deeply liberating in questioning the idea that our needs need to be met in order to be happy. When we believe this (consciously or unconsciously), we abdicate our capacity to be happy, fulfilled, or satisfied when our needs aren’t being met in the ways we want them to.
One of the reasons I believe this assumption is dangerous is that it so often leads to people pretending they don’t have needs or wants. So often, when we think our needs won’t be fulfilled, we give up on wanting it, because wanting something that we might not get is seen as the Worst Thing Ever. We are so afraid of feeling what if feels like to want without getting, that we often give up on wanting altogether.
The other fallacy connected to this is that if we allow ourselves to be happy & feel fulfilled, we’re not still also allowed to want (more). And, so, we deny ourselves the feeling of being fulfilled, so that we don’t have to give up our desires. The truth is – we can have both: Deep satisfaction, fulfillment & happiness, and also continue wanting….forever.
The truth is: Our wants, needs, and desires create more intimacy.
Wanting is sexy!
Think of a time you felt desired by a lover – without any demand that you satisfy them – simply their desire for you. Hot, right?!?!?!
We usually think that being needy is the worst thing ever, but the desire, the actual wanting, itself is sexy and attractive – it is the demand that the need be met (so that we don’t have to feel our own neediness) that pushes people away – not the desire itself.
At the very core of our beings, most people are deeply afraid their needs won’t get met and it’s our lack of capacity to reside in our own skin in the experience of having that want, need, or desire without it getting met that compels us to demand that our needs should be met at all.
However, if we are willing to (first) feel & (then) reveal the need or desire itself, we create the possibility for an incredible depth of intimacy. When we build our capacity to be with feeling what it’s like to want something & not get it – but to still want it, without shame – we also create the capacity for deeper & deeper intimacy.
Expand your capacity to be with the wanting itself & expand your capacity for intimacy. In the video below I go into much more detail in each of these areas, as well as share my own personal experience(s) around desires, wants, needs, and some of the ways I have worked with expanding my own capacity.
If this work calls to you, join me for my upcoming retreat being held on sacred land from May 10-13—Return to Source: A Mt. Shasta retreat for women.
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Over a year ago you talked about an evening when you wanted to be close to your boyfriend but didn’t want sex so you asked him to hold the boundary that sex was off the table for the night, no matter how much you might big for it. (Hope I got those details right) I’ve tried this and found that sitting in this space of deep desire for one another and knowing that it was not going to get fulfilled that evening was so sexy hot. I recommend this practice!
Glad to hear that was helpful Deb!
Thank you for sharing your insights on this topic. I felt such a deep sense of gratitude and healing in my heart to just have the permission to feel the intensity that is me, whether anyone else knows of it or not. And the remembrance of the essence of me (my longing) is what allows me to celebrate the beauty of life, especially when it hurts.