The idea that partners shouldn’t be needy and should be independent creates a lack of security in the relationship.
Kim and Kevin were on the verge of breaking up. Neither of them wanted to end things, but they were exhausted from fighting and blaming each other.
Kevin values his quality time with Kim, and regularly organizes date nights for them. While Kim does find him sweet, she wants to spend more time with her friends. Kevin says this makes him feel lonely. This makes Kim feel suffocated and exhausted by his “neediness.”
Even at parties, Kim talks with her friends in such a way that Kevin feels left out.
As they were getting into the car after their latest party, this is what happened:
“Why did you even invite me to Jake’s party?” Kevin asks. “Once we walk in the door, you leave me standing there as if I don’t exist. You do this at every party we go to.”
Kim is immediately defensive. “I’m tired of having this conversation with you. You’re acting like a child. I didn’t do anything wrong!”
To reinforce his point, Kevin brings up Kim’s friend who makes him feel uncomfortable. “When Terra gets drunk, she starts trying to put her hand up my shirt and tell me how sexy I am. It creeps me out and you just let it happen.”
“She’s just playing around. You do have nice abs.”
Conversations like these end with Kevin walking off to sulk, and Kim feeling punished.
Ironically, Kim feels the same way when she visits Kevin’s family. He disappears with his mother and sister, forcing her to spend time with her dad who is incredibly rude. When Kim complains, Kevin dismisses her. Kim always says, “you’re just like your dad. You’re always putting me down.”
The Importance of Feeling Important
All of us want to matter. We want to feel visible and valued. We want to feel like a priority in our partner’s life rather than feeling downgraded.
Like Kim and Kevin, we may not know how to help our partner feel important or how our partner can make us feel important.
After all, love is full of expectations. We expect to fall in love with our soulmate and feel completed in our relationships. That’s why so many relationships start in a blissful connection, one we expect to sustain. However, this ideal fails us if our partners are unable to provide us with a satisfying feeling of security and emotional investment.
What makes love last is the feeling that our partners are there for us no matter what.
Let’s meet a different couple, Alison and Brett.
Each year, Brett attends his company holiday party for his high-profile investment firm. Alison feels shy at these events and sometimes mumbles her words with people she doesn’t really know. Brett on the other hand, flourishes at the party. Even among the strangers he hasn’t met.
Despite her discomfort, Alison gets ready for the event.
As they are getting dressed, this is their conversation:
“You know it’s not you. I just don’t like being around all these strangers.” Alison’s voice sounds concerned as she puts lipstick on.
“I know love,” replies Brett as he straightens his tie. “I’m grateful you are willing to come anyway. The instant you want to leave, we’ll take off. Okay?”
“Okay,” replies Alison. “How do I look?” She puckers her lips and looks at him.
“Beautiful,” Brett says as he gazes into her eyes.
A moment passes as a mutual gaze connects them.
“Let’s make a success strategy,” he says kindly. “You’ll stay on my arm when we walk in. I’ll say hi to some people I know. But don’t leave me, okay? I want to introduce you.”
“All right,” replies Alison with an anxious smile. “What if I need to use the restroom?”
“You can go without me,” Bret quickly responds with a smile, “but I expect you to get that gorgeous butt of yours back to your sexy husband once you’re done.”
They smile and kiss.
“This job is important. I’m on the verge of getting a promotion,” Brett says as get into the car. “But it’s not as important as you are to me.”