The key to a happy relationship is understanding the difference between wanting and needing


Couples starting counselling often have to first understand the difference between wanting and needing someone as this can be the key to having a successful relationship:

Needing someone implies dependency

Needing someone is about receiving attention, while wanting someone is about giving attention. Needing someone is a sign of codependency, whereas wanting someone does not mean you need this person in order to feel happy. If you are experiencing difficult times, needing someone is a part of being human. Needing this person constantly, however, is suffocating for both. When you need someone to be happy, you lose your sense of independence, because you rely on this person to give you what you need. In a healthy and happy relationship, you have to be able to exist alone.

Nobody wants a partner who constantly needs the other

Ask yourself: Would you like your partner to "need" you in order to be happy? Most people would feel pressurised by this thought. A relationship in which one partner relies on the other for feeling a long-term sense of happiness often turns into an unhealthy and extremely frustrating relationship for both.

How to tell the difference between needing and wanting someone?

Wanting someone on your life means that you want them there because life is more fun with them by your side. Wanting means that you are already a complete person without them. You are capable of making yourself happy, and your partner simply adds to this happiness. Wanting is truly loving someone, whereas needing is not love. Needing means that you don't love yourself enough, so that you need someone else to give you the attention that you are not able to give yourself. But nobody likes to do this job for someone else. Self-love has to be developed by yourself, by nurturing yourself and loving yourself unconditionally. 

How to practice self-love:

Nobody likes to hear the sentence "How can I love you if you don't even love yourself?", but self-love can be the most transformative long-term journey you might ever experience, because it's about no longer relying on the validation of others. The best way to develop self-love is to start living mindfully, truthfully and intentionally. Treat yourself well, listen to your body and mind and practice gratitude and positivity. In order to develop self-love you will need to know and understand who you really are. Develop a strong sense of self and a clear identity. The following metaphor can help you with this:

Be the raindrop that doesn't get swallowed up

Raindrops falling down a window tend to quickly merge with each other. They literally get "swallowed up" by others, and by this, they build larger raindrops. You can apply this metaphor to your relationship: Try to be the raindrop that always maintains its contour, no matter what happens. Be the raindrop that does not merge into any other raindrop, but keeps its strong sense of self and its clear identity, while falling down the window. When you are strongly attached to someone else, it can quickly happen that you become all about the other person. The metaphor of the raindrop will help you when you feel that you are focussing too much on your partner. You can be two raindrops, falling down the window next to each other, like a team, but never merge into each other, because then you will lose yourself and your partner.

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About me

I'm Natalie Marby, an English speaking therapist in Hamburg, Germany. I am half German and half British and I offer couples therapy in English, especially for expats living in Hamburg. To contact me, you can send me an email or call me: +49040 46090233. (Please don't forget to send me your phone number and the times I can reach you). I look forward to hearing from you!

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