As asking can be a challenge…
In relationship one of the most difficult and vulnerable things can be to ask for what it is you need, even more so for what you might desire. And the more you need or desire it the harder it can be to ask! We show you how below.
First let’s explore what is the difference between our needs and desires?
Our needs reflect our humanity and are common to all of us.
Some needs we literally cannot live without, like air, water and food. Some are more important for our emotional wellbeing like acceptance and love, some our spirituals wellbeing like the need for space and inspiration (see further list at end of article). Whatever the need without it our quality of life would be significantly worse off. The value we place on different needs makes us unique but the underlying need for them is universal.
Our desires reflect our individual uniqueness.
They are what we choose in our lives that say ‘this is who we are’. Our desires are things we can survive without yet they are an important aspect of how we experience, express and create our reality. The list of potential desires is as endless and varied as is the human race. Our desires come in two different forms, desires that serve simply ourselves and desires that serve ourselves whilst benefitting others and the world around us.
Our needs and desires are the place in relationship where we find both challenge and opportunity.
It’s not our partner’s obligation to fulfil our needs and desires, or ours to fulfil our partner’s. We commit to being together and supporting each other in whatever way we can, this is what builds love. Sharing each others desires brings creativity, aliveness and growth. Carrying the unspoken expectation that our partner’s will be there for everything we need and want (and vice versa) is imposing our child needs onto our adult relationship and is a fast way to permanent victim status for the ‘child’ and relationship burnout for the ‘parent’.
Asking for what you Need and Desire:
The asking for what we need and want, in this age of independence can still be the sticking point for many of us.
Here we offer you some simple but powerful tips on how to go about it as clearly as possible…
- Identify what it is that you need/desire as clearly as you can.
- Believe absolutely in your right to ask for what you need/desire. The asking is separate to getting it. Feel this belief in you as you ask.
- If you have difficulty asking for what you need/desire know what your stuff is around asking. Do you have fear of not being worthy, resentment that it won’t happen, past pain from having your desires rejected, beliefs that asking is wrong, difficulty in identifying your needs? etc. What is it that drives your resistance- identify it and acknowledge it and leave it in the past for now.
- Ask without any attachment at all to getting what you need/desire, in the way that you want it. This keeps your energy inside you rather than reaching out to the other where it can be chopped off at the knees. This also prevents you from unconsciously trying to hook the other person into your manipulation, leaving them free to respond authentically. If you can do this the rest will be much easier.
- Be willing to receive a ‘no’ before you ask the question.
- Avoid hinting, implying, suggesting or any other covert methods of asking for what you want. Just be clear, open and direct so the other person can hear you.
- Never make a demand. Demands leave your partner 3 unhealthy options- to give in, to resist or to fight back. No good outcomes.
- Avoid asking from the negative eg. “You never get home on time when I want you to, what’s the point of asking. Will you this time?” Not very inviting, but very common.
- Make it clear what outcome getting what you need/desire will create for you. This will inspire your partner to get onto your team and help you manifest it. For example: “If you put the kids to bed for me tonight I will feel really cared about, loved and close to you” or “If you send me a sexy text whilst I am at work today I will feel seen, validated and loved by you”.
- Ask if there is anything they need to be able to help you achieve what you need/desire eg. “Would it make it easier for you if I put the kids pj’s out on the bed for you?” or “Would it make it easier for you if I gave you a melting hug and a kiss before I left for work this morning?” This allows your partner to feel like they’re on your team.
- Hear your partner’s ‘no’ without judgement. Don’t stay in the ‘no’, make space for something else to arise. Be willing to negotiate. Even better, be willing to get what you want in ways that might surprise you.
- If your partner can’t meet your need/desire meet your own eg. by giving ourselves a hug or a cup of tea. Then think about how else, or who else can help you get your need/desire met.
- Or is there another need you can meet that will support you to relax around your current need/desire? if one of your needs/desires has a big ‘empty tank’ you will have less flexibility in how willing you are to negotiate with it. In fact a big empty tank can make a desire feel like a real need instead. Once your tank has been filled up a bit you will feel more nurtured and a lot safer to have an open mind about your current need/desire.
- See Creative Need Fulfilment Activity below.
- If you’re finding it difficult to identify your need/desire let the other person know this before you start, own it as being about you. Invite them (or someone else if appropriate) to help you explore what your need/desire might be, just be clear this is a separate conversation to the one where you actually ask for what it is you need/desire.
- If your partner consistently rejects your request ask them in a non judgemental way what their reason is for doing so. Be prepared to listen and you will probably learn something useful.
Remember that life is all about change, ebb and flow and humans are no different. There will be times when you will have more needs/desires, or neediness in your needs/desires than others, and the same will be true for your partner. Having your needs/desires out in the open will help you move through their changes.
Desperation a Key!
We have found that the more desperate you find yourself in your need/desire then the more likely there is something in this need/desire for you to give to yourself, rather than get it (or an aspect of it) from your partner. It can be your psyche’s way of screaming at you to see yourself more clearly. Do yourself a favour and listen as you can experience profound shifts in both yourself and your relationship as a result.
If you find your needs/desires are continually going unmet first review whether you’ve attempted to meet them yourself. Then review the section on ‘How to ask for what you want’ to check out if the way you’re asking for what you want is getting in your way. If you’re clear in these then it’s vital to discuss what is happening with your partner, as this is not a viable long term situation for you.
People commonly think what is the point of being in relationship if the other person isn’t there to fill our needs/desires if we can meet our own anyway? We find what is left is a clearer desire to simply be together…
Creative Need Fulfilment
There are times when our partners (or others) cannot meet our needs/desires, as much as they might like to. How can we embrace our needs/desires without unnecessarily imposing them on others?
We can do so by using our higher intelligence.
As your mind doesn’t know the difference between imagination and reality you can experience yourself having your need or desire met simply using the power of your mind and body.
Centre yourself, imagine yourself experiencing your need or desire fully, fill it out in your imagination as clearly as you can. Then ask for help in meeting this need or desire from your creative self or your higher power, whatever this might mean to you. Allow your imagination to fulfil your need or desire in the most creative way possible, feeling it in your heart and body if the is helpful. Fully embrace the moment.
Then either just enjoy what you’ve received without needing anything more, or use the creative suggestions that have arisen through your intuitive imagination to set about fulfilling your need or desire.
If you’re still having difficulty with needs and desires in your relationship how about contacting Annette or Graeme from Oztantra for a chat about how you can improve your strike rate on 1800 TANTRA or email here
Common Human Needs
Air, food, exercise/movement, rest/sleep, safety, shelter, sexual expression, touch, water
Acceptance, affection, appreciation, attention, belonging, cooperation, communication, closeness, community, companionship, compassion, consideration, consistency, empathy, inclusion, intimacy, love, mutuality, nurturing, respect/self respect, safety, security, stability, support, to know and be known, to see and be seen, to understand, to be understood, to like and be liked, to need and be needed, trust, warmth.
Authenticity, integrity, presence.
Adventure, diversity, fun, excitement, challenge, risk, joy, humour.
Beauty, communion, ease, equality, balance, harmony, inspiration, predictability, order.
Choice, freedom, independence, space, spontaneity.
Awareness, celebration of life, challenge, clarity, competence, consciousness, contribution, creativity, discovery, efficacy, effectiveness, growth, hope, learning, mourning, participation, purpose, self expression, stimulation, to matter, understanding.
(c) 2005 by Center for Nonviolent Communication