The Human Cost of "I Need You"
Updated: Dec 4, 2019
Perhaps one of the more pernicious ideas that have been promoted by poets and romantics over the ages is the “I need you” mantra. This idea that a real, meaningful relationship is preceded by need has been idealized for millennia, and may seem harmless – if you are careful not to look under the hood.
“I need you Like the flower needs the rain You know, I need you …
Like the winter needs the spring You know, I need you I need you”
-America “I Need You”
I did a quick search of a popular lyrics website and it resulted in 630,622 lyrics with the phrase “I need you.”
You need air. You need water. Your need for these things is taken for granted. You don’t admire them, nurture them, or waste much concentration on them, until they’re removed – then you become increasingly frantic, even irrational, to restore it. These are the sentiments of a stalker, and it’s incredible that we’ve been conditioned to find this attractive.
If someone else becomes the only permissible source to meet a real need, they own you, and that’s the other side of the coin – ownership. Marriage is steeped in the culture of ownership, because that’s literally what it used to mean. Women were the property of men in every sense of the word, and the shadows of this remain to this day.
It can hardly be a surprise that the powerful combination of need and ownership creates an incredibly toxic environment, and we see this clearly when breakups happen. Seen in this light, the extreme behavior of people breaking up makes perfect sense. After all, he/she owns you. How would you respond if your car decided to leave you. Would that be an amicable parting? Also, you are taking away something they ‘need’ as completely as air, right? Suffocate a person, and there is no action they won’t take to regain air.
Consequently, violence, irrational behavior of all sorts, and extreme antagonism are incredibly common. None of this is an excuse for this behavior – we are expected to be able to rise above the irrational as adults. But we exist under a system that is stacked against us – that is ripe for confusion, fear, anger and acting out, and we see the results daily.
It’s time for healthy adults to begin their partnerships from a place of:
“I don’t need you...I want and choose you. Together we will share our journeys challenging, cheering and supporting each other.”
THIS is sexy, desirable, and satisfying. Love can thrive in this environment. Someone telling us they “need us” should be met with “Eww…”. The energy of a stalker is beneath us – we are mature individuals who can get our own needs met, and we are owned by no one. Being desired is infinitely better than being needed. Being unconditionally loved is infinitely better than being owned.
Old paradigms of ownership, neediness, and weakness are dissolving, as they should, and it’s time for our poets to get with the program.
I love you,
Like the rain blesses the field,
You know I desire you
I love you,
Like the winter sees the spring
You know I see you,
I feel you…
Photo by Alex Block on Unsplash