The Effect of Unmet Needs on Trust in Relationships
We spend a long, long time in denial of what we truly need because we (often unconsciously) believe those needs cannot be met, or are just ‘wrong’ to have, or we don’t know ourselves enough to even identify them. I was no different. But these days, I am in such deep awareness of more of myself, that I have much less trouble.
What I have found is that you will have continuous pain in your relationships if you do not identify your needs and then get them met. You really can only do this if you know yourself well enough to know what you really need. Most people do not know what they need.
It is amazing how many of the fights and arguments that eventually lead to relationship dissolution come from this simple issue, wherein neither party understands that this is even happening. Many needs-based issues in relationships can be totally resolved through awareness, repair and commitment. Some cannot – those that come down to simple incompatibility.
The bottom line is that we must ensure we meet our friend’s or partner’s needs within our relationships because unmet needs are exquisitely painful AND if we do not do this we cannot trust one another. Trust is affected because we will struggle to trust that the other person truly cares for us. This is because when they do not meet our needs, we feel harmed. When we do not meet one another’s needs we do not feel cared for and will emotionally starve inside the relationship. We won’t feel safe in the relationship because we cannot trust that we will get what we need from them and are being injured as result. We cannot trust that they care for us when they are simultaneously starving us of what we need for our highest good and wellness. It feels like pain instead of care.
If we care for one another, we want to meet one another’s needs. If there is a blockage to meeting these needs we must assess together and become creative if necessary. Ask, ‘How can we meet all of our needs without causing undue damage to either of us?’ Being or feeling challenged is okay, but being damaged is not – Sometimes there is no way to meet one person’s needs without the other’s going unmet, or meeting one person’s need is in direct violation of a need the other person has and this is damaging. Continuing in this sort of situation is damaging. If you find that your needs cannot be met despite both party’s best efforts, sharing in this relationship is not what is most in alignment, most healthful, for either of you at this time. This situation is often painful as it involves loss (at least for now). But the way that you have tried, tried to centre together in a state of love, and have come to a self loving and aligning decision, is beautiful.
If we keep trying to have our needs met by people who cannot meet them, we will always feel that sense of being damaged or starved and so will never be able to build the trust and safety that we need to have in relationships. We only feel safe when we know and tangibly experience that the other people truly understand (and thus enact) what is in our best interest. Trust is simply essential to having healthy connection and meeting one another’s needs is the way that it is created.
Many relationships end up in a game of testing one another in a futile attempt to prove that trust exists, or to disprove it’s existence, within the relationship. We often have one part of us that sets up unconscious ‘tests’ to try to prove that we can trust our partner/friend, because that part of us wants to trust. We also have another part of us that sets up these same ‘tests’ in order to prove that we cannot trust our partner/friend, because that part of us has already decided trusting people is too risky due to previous experiences of trusting only to later have that trust broken in some way.
We must help the part of us who holds inability to trust by only exposing her to relationships where her needs CAN be met. To expose her to anything other than that is damaging to her (and the whole of you) as it only solidifies her cause to distrust – it is re-traumatising. That being said, yes, it is true that we do eventually want to be in a such a state of health and wholeness that we can easily stay balanced if trust breaks down in a relationship where our needs are going unmet… but that is a goal for the future. You will not get to that strong, healed sense of whole self and centre by keeping your current wounded self in painful, absent of trust relationships. Again, it is simply harmful and re-traumatising.
You Are Worthy
Interestingly, and filled with hope, please know: You can get to that state of emotional strength where you will be alright and simply let go if trust dissolves in a relationship. And it starts with lovingly freeing yourself of relationships that harm you, and leaning deeper into those that nurture you.
The idea that you were ever undeserving of having your needs met, that they were ever ‘wrong’ or ‘bad’, the idea that others’ incapability of meeting them means there is something wrong with you… is all untrue. These are all valid feelings, given the experiences that led you to believe such thoughts, but please simultaneously hear the message that the universe has for you about this: You are worthy. You are. Trust exists and is in alignment for you. Safety exists and is in alignment for you. Nurturing exists and is in alignment for you.
To free yourself and find these treasures the universe has for you, it is time to admit that you are worthy and what you believed about yourself and your needs were unkind lies. We do this with gentle strength that does not invalidate the aspect of you that may still believe in such beliefs. She/he had reason. You had reason. Now, the invitation is simply to know that here and now you also have choice. Choice to choose what to believe and thus how to be treated.
If you choose to believe that you are worthy, that is great, but many of us who feel unworthy will find it difficult to suddenly just believe the opposite. So we begin by just acknowledging and owning the desire: I want to believe that I am worthy. Just this alone calls new energy to you that matches that desire perfectly because it is honest and true. Starting here will cause you to notice what is in your life that makes you feel unworthy, mistreated, the opposite of cared for. This in turn will show you what you need. In that contrast you will feel the inner asking for what you would prefer. For instance, noticing absence may make you realise that your need is stability within connection. Noticing silence may make you realise that your need is good communication. Invalidation may make you realise that your need is to be seen and heard. Acknowledge and note those needs and then, over time, seek their direct creation. Seek and create them, and if you do not find them in your current relationship/s after careful attempt, lovingly free yourself because you and your heart are worthy. This energetic momentum calls new, healthful and trust-filled relationships into your life, those that this loving universe wishes and has for you, always.
P.S. Remember, it is never ever wrong for you to have needs and to ask for what you need in relationships to be given. It is never wrong for you to demand that of the people in your life. It is an amazing and beautiful and courageous commitment to yourself and it shows that you value yourself. You love yourself that much. You know what else it will do? It will increase your self trust. You can now trust yourself because you are meeting your own needs. The relationship with others is not the only one that will improve. Your relationship with yourself will improve.
So, you are just amazing.