We were talking about the Golden Rule: Treat others as you would like to be treated. The underlying promise is that if you do this you will, in turn, get treated the way you want.
What’s wrong with just being forward and asking for what you want?
What happens if the way you treat someone is not “preferable” to them?
Doesn’t this smack of mind reading and manipulation?
That took me down the road of thought… How often do we project our own wants, or even our idea of what a person should want, onto someone else?
Him: I will give you flowers for your birthday. All women want flowers.
Her: But I really want to go on a picnic with you instead.
Him: It doesn’t matter. I’m only willing to give you flowers. And when you’re unhappy, I’ll give you more flowers. Because that’s what you should want.
He’s stuck with the idea of what she wants, treating her like “all women” instead of listening to her individual desire. She ends up with truckloads of flowers but is unhappy, appears critical and ungrateful, when a picnic would have done the trick to bring her joy.
In my marriage, we were at odds with each other. Husband #2 treated me the way he wanted to be treated: give complements, be nice, leave her alone. This was horrible for me. I didn’t want complements; I really wanted quality time together, serious conversation about our issues, and physical touch. All of his praise and niceness didn’t get close to touching what I needed – a difficult talk about what was wrong. By leaving me alone, it went directly opposite my desire for quality time together.
Talk about poking a sleeping bear with a stick.
Husband #2 and I have discussed our propensity to jump (head-first it seems) into our downward spiral. No finger-pointing on who started it or who did what to whom, we are open enough now to recognize that there were triggers, both internal and external, that led us to the bottom of the pit with each other.
Neither of us was nice.
You would think after these deep conversations we would be two completely honest people, sharing our needs, opening ourselves up, and being completely vulnerable.
But we discovered a new wrinkle.
It seems that when you start talking needs, the other person can see you as NEEDY. Personally, I think “needy” is a relative term. Just saying, “I need you to do X for me” …twice, can come off as neediness. One person’s inattentiveness makes the other person appear needy. Does that mean I’m needy because I ask Son #1 to take out the garbage 3 times? Or request the laundry from Son #2 more than twice?
Maybe our current American culture slaps the Needy Label on anyone who isn’t 100% independent? Does relying on someone else, for anything, make one needy?
In personal relationships, needy behavior includes asking twice or three times after hearing a No.
If you try to get people to behave out of character or beyond their capacities, you are behaving needily. If a talkative woman is married to a taciturn man, she may think of herself as too “needy” because she feels badly when he is silent at the end of the day. Her need for conversation does not make her needy. She’s behaving needily if she keeps badgering him or resenting him.
The article goes on to suggest ways to move your needs from one person to another outlet, one that is more fulfilling, but what happens when what you need is not easily met by another source?