You’ve been sold a fantasy that can never come true.
One of the worst things that the era of romantic love has taught you is that you are supposed to find a soulmate in a significant other who will be able to meet all of your needs flawlessly, often without even having to communicate their needs to you.
If you’re prone to thinking that your partner has to be everything to you and that all of your needs should be fulfilled by them, you’re in for a rude awakening and it’s probably time that you let them off the hook of your inflated expectations of their abilities. Because there’s no such thing as soulmates.
Let’s get one thing straight: No one human will ever be able to fulfill all of your needs for you. Ever.
Not your significant other. Not your best friend. Not even you (because, as great as self-care and self-love are, you are a human being with inherent limitations as to what you can do for yourself). You have a multitude of needs (physical, emotional, spiritual, intellectual) and it would be impossible to expect one person to meet all of those needs for you.
Maybe your partner is expertly adept at being an emotional support for you, the sex is amazing, you laugh a lot together, and you have easy and effortless conversations. That doesn’t mean that simply because you have a high amount of overlap in certain areas of your life that they will also be able to do your taxes, challenge you in your career path, and motivate you to go to the gym in the morning.
Or maybe you’ve never felt more spiritually connected to another person in your entire life than you do with your partner, and that’s the only indicator that you need for you to feel happy with them. If so, fantastic! You’ve already made it.
Whatever value your partner brings to your life, if they’re able to meet 50 percent of your needs on a semi-consistent basis, you’ve already hit the jackpot. Finding that much awesomeness in one person is already a rare find, and you should probably thank your lucky stars for having crossed paths with them.
So what do you do with your remaining needs that your partner doesn’t fulfill?
You, Them, And Others: An Exercise For Getting All Of Your Needs Met
Here’s a simple exercise (that will take anywhere from 10-30 minutes if done correctly) that will help you identify all of your needs, and then systematically create a plan to get them all met. Ultimately, this whole process comes down to a simple two-step set of questions: “What do I want?” and “How do I go about getting those needs met, and who do I need to help me accomplish those goals?”
1. Discover all of your core needs.
As it is with most areas of your life, you must start with self-reflection. What exactly are your core needs? Pull out a piece of paper/something to jot down notes with, and answer the following five questions fully.
What do I do that has me feeling at my best?
What have been my five favorite days that I can remember in my life in the past ten years? What made those particular days so special?
What do I know that I love doing that I haven’t prioritized in a while?
What things do I do that, when I’m doing them, I feel so enraptured by them that I lose track of time?
What ten things do I do that give me the most energy?
Once you’ve brain-dumped out all of your thoughts, look for the common threads. What makes you the happiest? What makes you feel the most alive?
2. Create a plan for getting your needs met.
First of all, recognize that you are the only person in the world who is responsible for getting your needs met. It isn’t your partner’s job to remind you to go to the gym. It isn’t your children’s job to remind you to make time for self-care. Your business partner wasn’t put on this planet to encourage you to set boundaries around work/life balance and prioritizing down time.
Your needs = your responsibility.
So how do you get these needs met? Take out a separate piece of paper and draw two long lines, dividing the page into three vertical sections labeled “Me,” “My Partner,” and “Others.” Now allocate different needs of yours into the three distinct categories.
Some of your needs you can meet all on your own (like going for a walk in nature), and others you will need other people to accomplish (like getting a haircut, massage, or having a stimulating conversation).
Want an idea of how this would play out? Here are some examples from my personal lists.
Some examples from my “Me” section are: exercising in a gym on a regular basis, sitting down and reading at least three days per week, drinking a green smoothie for breakfast at least five days per week, allowing myself the stillness and relaxation of social downtime.
Some examples from my “My partner” section are: emotional support, regular cuddling, sexual intimacy, having a partner in healing alongside me.
And some examples from my “Others” section are: feeling challenged in my career path, having regular philosophical conversations about life, regularly spending time only with people of my own gender, support in my spiritual development.
Now that you’ve uncovered what your needs are and who you need to prioritize in your life to get those needs met, it’s simply a matter of pulling out your calendar and making it happen.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: show me your calendar and I’ll show you your priorities. If you know that you need regular exercise/stimulating conversation/girl’s nights/guy’s nights/massages in order to feel truly, deeply fulfilled, then make it happen.
The greatest gift that you can give to your friends, family members, partner/spouse, or children is your own happiness.
So make yourself a priority, get your needs met from a variety of people, and take some pressure off of the people in your life that you rely on the most. Diversifying who you get your needs met benefits everyone involved.
That’s it. That’s the exercise. Recognize which needs you can meet solely on your own, what you need from your partner, and what needs you can get met with the support of other people outside of your intimate relationship, and then get those needs met by systematically making them a priority.
Best of luck with the exercise. I hope you find lots of clarity and value in it.