I am a member of a few forums and discussion boards. On one of them a woman posted for support on making a decision about her current boyfriend. She described him and his behavior in such a way that I wanted to personally rescue her from this mooching loser. At one point she said that he “provides no support and rarely cares about my needs.” The only positive I heard her say was that she knows he will always love her.
That got me thinking… I asked her if she really meant “love,” though, or “need?” The behavior she described – not going to work, smoking a lot of pot to the detriment of her health (she has asthma), cheating, not pitching in around the house, and ignoring her expressed needs – were not loving at all. When she left for a few days, he was full of promises and apologies and declarations of undying love. But real love cares about your needs and provide you with support. Someone who is mooching just needs you around. It might feel good at first, especially when you confuse it with love, but it gets old pretty quickly.
I have been guilty of confusing feeling NEEDED with being LOVED. That’s a trap. Those two things are not the same. I poured everything I had into my husband and then some because he “needed me to.” I let his neediness feed my ego. I don’t know another way to put it… It felt great being able to give him support, love,and understanding, to rub his feet, and do his laundry. To try to “help” him, finance his dreams, give him a “leg up.” It made me feel successful, generous, kind, smart, and loved.
I was all of those things except loved by him. Being taken advantage of didn’t make any of those things more or less true. It just made me drained. Because I gave and gave and gave and got nothing in return except his “love.” A “love” that lied, cheated, did drugs, ran up my bills, and contributed nothing except his ability to cook and wash the dishes. Hey, that’s more than some people get from their partners, right? I convinced myself to settle because he “loved me so much.”
Bullshit! He just needed me. He wanted my money, my house, my foot rubs, my stability, my kindness, and to show me off on his arm. He wanted a narcissistic supply, which I stupidly continued providing to him. Even as I pulled away, demanded more, “forced” him into therapy (he only went to prolong his free ride, lying the entire time), got upset, and threatened to kick him out, he kept getting what he wanted… My attention, my emotional involvement, and more time to drive my car around and sleep in my bed.
Yeah… Exhausting to say the least. When you give everything and don’t get anything in return it makes you tired in a way you can’t describe if you haven’t been there. Parasites eventually sap all of your energy.
Again, that’s not love. Feeling wanted or needed can certainly give off a little high. It doesn’t last, though. And it certainly is not the same as being loved. In the future I don’t just want to be needed or wanted. I want to be loved. Cared for. Put first. Acknowledged. Supported. Treated with respect. Gifted with honesty. Noticed. Appreciated. Trusted. I want tenderness. An equal partner. Someone who will put as much effort into the relationship as I do.