All the self-help books tell you you have to meet your own needs. And while, for the most part, that is true, it’s not entirely true. If I break my leg and get rushed to the ER, there better be a team of competent doctors there to meet my needs because heck if I have to operate on myself.
Love addicts have a rough time figuring out which needs they can and should meet themselves, and which needs they believe should be met by others. I believe that much of the confusion over who is responsible for what stems from an inability or refusal to see one’s self as an adult versus a child. Love addicts tend to want the kind of attention and care that would normally be bestowed upon a child. But we’re not children. We are adults. And as an adult here’s how you figure out what needs you should be meeting yourself, as opposed to which needs others can meet for you…
YOU are responsible for meeting your basic needs: water, food, shelter (that means taking care of yourself financially), and clothing are all examples of basic needs. Basically, you need to be at the least self-sufficient.
YOU are responsible for meeting your own mental, emotional and physical needs: this means taking care of yourself, making healthy choices, keeping fit, eating well, incorporating spirituality into your life, filling your own void (if you think you have one), and working through or resolving any mental, emotional or physical issues you may have. This is no one else’s job but yours. And while you will share these interests with others, it is ultimately YOU who is responsible for your own self care. So, the next time you “blame” your friend for not waking you up early enough to get to the gym, remember it wasn’t their responsibility in the first place.
YOU are responsible for meeting your higher needs: higher education, finding and cultivating appropriate and rewarding friendships, finding a partner who is kind, respectful, loving, and compatible, being happy, finding and having a fulfilling career, entertaining yourself and being the person you aspire to be are all examples of higher needs. YOU are responsible for meeting those needs. No one else.
So, what needs of yours are others responsible for meeting?
The need to communicate & be social: While it is not the responsibility of others to entertain you, it is the responsibility of others with whom you socialize and communicate to be honest, trustworthy and kind in their communication. This means that you have a right to expect honesty. You have right to expect not to be manipulated or tricked or lied to. You have a right to expect that no one will intimidate you, yell at you or bully you. They ALSO have that right. So, if they cannot meet that need you should move on, or stop communicating with them.
The need for common human decency: Whether you know it or not, you have a human need for respect, tolerance, decency and to be treated humanely. Everyone is not expected to love or even like you, but they (and we) must meet the need of every human to treat others with dignity and respect. Many love addicts ignore this kind of need in exchange for other seemingly more important needs (sex, companionship, etc.), never realizing that you should not ever have to give up this need. We all deserve respect. Period. If you’re not getting it from certain sources, you need to reassess why that person(s) is in your life. You need to recognize that this is a valid and essential need, and that it should be met by yourself AND others. If it is not, you move on.
The need for friendship: while you are responsible for going out and trying to make friends, those friends, in return, are responsible for meeting your need for a compatible friend. If, however, they cannot meet that need you should both try to work it out, move on, or stop expecting them to be a friend.
The need for intimacy with another human being: while you are responsible for going out and trying to find a committed partner, that partner, in return, is responsible for meeting your need for a compatible, respectful, intimate and loving partner. If, however, they cannot meet those needs you have a responsibility to yourself to either try and work it out or move on.
Lastly, I think it’s important to note that no one owes you anything. Once you’re an adult you cannot expect the world to cater to you. You can possibly expect respect (and sometimes you don’t even get that). And while you are able to expect that some of your needs can be met by others, you, my friend, are responsible for the bulk of those needs being met.