This week, I learned my number one need in a relationship. I think many of you will relate.
At the end of the day, after running around trying to get everyone’s physical and emotional needs met, after the work, after the stress, after reconciling the good and the bad news, after establishing and maintaining boundaries, after holding space for others and absorbing enough raw psychic energy to put my nervous system on high alert, I need a safe haven.
A safe haven is a space where I can just be. Where I step out of the mask and armor that protect me from the expectations, cynicism, judgment, and harshness of the outside world. Where I expose my soft introverted insides without worry.
Within the safe haven…
I need loving arms to hold me. I need warmth to envelope me. I need strong hands to rub my shoulders. I need sweet words to ease my nerves. I need to know it’s OK to let down my guard. I can trust you to see my dire need for rest and not make me feel bad about it.
Don’t tell me, “Keep going, stay busy, push through it, you’ll get used to it.” I won’t. I’ve tried. I feel bad about not being able to “get used to it”.
Don’t tell me, “That’s life” silently sending the message “Get over it. There is no reason to feel as you do”.
Don’t belittle me for expressing emotions or for being too optimistic. I am fervently attached to emotions and hope gets me out of bed each day.
Tell me you see how tired I am. Tell me a funny story or just sit and talk with me while holding my hand. Tell me we’ll tackle things together.
Listen to me, attempt to understand and then let me rest. Rest doesn’t necessarily mean sleep or lounging. It means to simply let me be. Let me slowly renew in solitude or in your patient, kind presence.
Chances are, I’ve already done everything I have energy for that day. Please don’t want more. There is only so much I can stuff into one day and only so much emotion and energy I can wring out of one me. If we already went out socializing, don’t ask for more. If we’ve already been active and busy, don’t ask for more. If we’ve already had sex, don’t ask for more. Please.
What I always have more of…
There are two things I can offer more of. One is generative, intuitive and cross-pollinating conversation where we riff off of each other in relatedness and idea explosions. I always have energy for that because it generates energy as it occurs. Each association and new idea literally give me a shot of pleasure inducing dopamine. The other is emotional understanding in your direction. I will strive to support and understand your emotional needs. Your soft interior is important to me. Please let me in. I live to aid you in healing and growth.
Death by 1000 cuts
I need to be able to make mistakes without being chastised. Please know I will exhibit ambivalence. Help me make decisions instead of making me feel small for considering all perspectives. I don’t want to fret over whether you will be OK with how I do something. I don’t want to constantly worry about frustrating or irritating you. Your pointing out of foibles hurts more than you think.
I need conversational support. Rapport is life-giving. If you often say things that seem unkind to me or others, I feel pain. If you often offend people or make them feel small, pain. If you often disagree with me or I with you, pain. Stress. Conflict. I eventually feel beaten up inside. Hurt. Death by 1000 cuts.
I protect myself by holding back. My guard goes up to protect my vulnerability.
True connection is about emotions, vulnerability and trust.
I know I am especially sensitive. I know I am complex and even difficult at times. But if you make me feel emotionally safe and loved, I will be your ever strong golden hearted sweet companion and impassioned lover. If you are gentle on my spirit, I will be pure love on yours.