Paul Cockayne – 07791 970406 – firstname.lastname@example.org
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“Stop interfering! I can deal with it!! Back off!!!”
Our needs as individuals change over time. In many ways, this is obvious. A new born baby needs food, warmth and a clean nappy from time to time. A toddler probably needs to be able to explore. A teenager will often crave independence. As an adult we may become more focused on status, money, relationships and parenthood. In old age we may be looking for peace and tranquillity.
Even as I write that paragraph, I am thinking about exceptions to the general patterns. And the more I work as a counsellor the more I realise that nobody is typical, everybody is unique and different. So although our needs do change over time, they change in different ways – there may be some patterns, but there are always exceptions.
It’s not only our physical and material needs that change of course, our emotional needs change as well – and these are likely to be less predictable, more influenced by randomness of events in our lives than by the steady progression of time. Our emotions can be difficult to understand at times – they can be a joy, but they can also be a nuisance, or worse.
If you are in a long-term relationship, your needs are likely, at times, to change in different ways from your partner’s needs. When you first get together with your partner there will be reasons why the relationship works. There is usually a physical attraction, of course, but there will be other things if the relationship is more than a casual one. For example, socially, one of you may be more extrovert, the other more introvert. As long as the difference is not too great, this can tend to work well, you can each help to provide more balance for your partner.
So while your different personalities may fit well together at the start of the relationship, things may change as your individual needs change. I worked with a client recently who had been able to depend on their partner to be emotionally steady, solid and dependable. But things changed, due to circumstances, and she became emotionally much less secure – she needed to lean on her partner for support, rather than the other way round. Although they had been together for nearly 20 years, this had never happened before, and their relationship came under a lot of strain as a result.
When things like this happen, it can be difficult to see the pattern because you are too close to it, and counselling can help you to take a step away from the immediate issues to look at what is going on. It can be helpful, too, in enabling both parties to state their needs of their partner, and to look at how these have changed over time.
So let’s look again at that opening paragraph and reword it : “When we first got together you were very protective and I needed that – it was great that when I had a problem, you fixed it for me. You were a knight in shining armour. But now, I think I need to be able to solve problems for myself.”