20 August, 2007

What do Women Need?

Last week Wombat suggested "Women need to be needed."

My mind started spinning.

Is he serious? Do women truly need to be needed?

Perhaps it was that he selected words that didn't quite work with my understanding of needs?

This spring the Diva learned about "needs and wants" so I am pretty well versed in this subject matter. But, what, outside of air, food, water, and shelter do I need from a female perspective?

Do I need to be needed? The idea that we "Need" to be needed implies that we are needy. Needy is something that women do not want to be (due to past criticism). At least for me, I don't like needy men so can't imagine that a man would like a needy woman.

But do I "need" people? Relationships? Communication? Interaction?

Or - are these things I "want?"

Wombat wasn't specifically referring to the relationships between men and women, more the difference in priorities.

He suggests: "Men value close relationships, of course, but there is a difference between a close relationship and having a yearning or longing for such a thing. Needing to be needed implies an acknowledgement by both parties that another person has a special place for you in their heart. This strikes me as a female trait. Women's needs are about everything, as any man will tell you, so I'm certainly not precluding support and respect. I'm simply noting the difference of priorities."

Do I yearn for a close relationship? Do I place a higher priority on obtaining a close relationship than a man does?

Interestingly, "that guy" once told me that women view friendship differently than do men. Women need to communicate, keep in touch, chat, e-mail, whatever - they like to know what is going on. Men, on the other hand, do not need that communication. You do not see a guy in ages - when you get together, it is as if you saw one another yesterday. It is just different.

I can see that. I know that when I lose touch with a female friend, the friendship suffers if only just a little. I realize that she hasn't placed that friendship as something worth investing her time.

When I lose touch with a guy friend, I know I can drop him an e-mail, give him a call (and expect either of them in return) and nothing has changed. The friendship doesn't suffer in the slightest.

And this might not be what Wombat was talking about...

SO back to needs, do I seriously and honestly need that closeness?

I do think that, whether we like to admit it or not, we prefer to have the ability to openly and honestly communicate. This could be a "need" but most of us would probably argue that we honestly do not "need" it.

I have lived in a bit of an isolated state - in a foreign country where my neighbors and I spoke different languages. Perhaps we have each felt isolated at some point - a new city, new school, new job in which we found ourselves feeling a tad alone.

Given my personality, I am totally fine with these situations. I am perfectly comfortable in my own company. Yet, to be frank, I don't know how long I could live in such isolation. I do need people. I don't just need people, but I need the relationship.

Do I need that relationship to live - probably not. Do I need it to remain saint... that is a different question.

Despite my personality, I do need the interaction with people - not just anybody, but those with whom I have relationships. Thus, the line between need and want is blurred.

Ladies, do we need to be needed, or is it more a human need that is of higher priority in some personalities than in others?

Are we, as humans, adjusting to the idea of isolation due to advances in technology only to find that, in the end, we need the close relationships? We need to be needed?

But then again, is the "need" for close relationships a need to be "needed?", or is it purely the need to have that interaction - not to be needed by another but to "share" with another?


Wombat said...

To my mind, EO, needing something doesn't mean "needy". It's one of those loaded words chock full of emotion (to which you alluded) that don't serve us well.

If it is in the nature of women to need the continual closeness of others, then that's something to celebrate, not something to play down. That's how I see it.

I enjoyed the way you differentiate women's and men's relationships - with either sex. That's the kind of thing I was thinking of when writing the piece.

We're different. That's grand.

The Exception said...

I think life would be quite boring if we weren't different. We balance one another in so many ways. I know that there are women who would not admit this, but I actually prefer having men in my life. Perhaps I need them, not to make me whole or prop up my self esteem, but truly because men offer something that women don't - beyond the anatomical.

kirk said...

It seems like it shouldn't be so much about "need" or "being needed" but more about plain old compatibility.When the right person magically arrives in someone's life, then the relationship magically happens whether there is need, want, or anything else. When it's right, it's right. And when that magical person isn't there yet, it just means it's time to focus on other things.


KennethSF said...

I'm inclined to argue the desire to feel needed is common among men as well as women. After all, it's a validation of one's own self worth to know that one's intellect, character, strength, skills, and talents are of value to someone else's wellbeing.

The difference may simply be the degree to which each (not each sex but each individual man or woman) prefers to be held accountable for.

I grant, however, that men have a much harder time admitting their emotional needs than women do. My distraught single women friends seem to have no trouble picking up the phone at 3 am and calling me to share their anxieties and heartaches, and I'm happy to indulge (provided I have a ready supply of coffee to keep me lucid throughout). I too have acutely felt the effects of Cupid's poisonous arrows at one time or another. But I simply don't have to courage to reveal the injuries like my women friends.

cathouse teri said...

Egad, I have to think about this.

Kathryn said...

lots for my wee little brain to churn through :)

I must admit though, that I do indeed need to be needed, though hate being "needy" and work extremely hard against being so

Mike said...

Well women need a social cicle. WIthout it, it leads to stress and depression in women. While in men it is healthy, but doesn't affect us in the same way. Thus ends the medical lesson for the day.

cathouse teri said...

I have plenty of female friends who, when we talk after long separations, are very comfortable picking up right where we left off. It's called, "hold on loosely, but don't let go." That's what I call it, anyway. :)

I think everyone wants to feel valued. Like they matter and have an effect on the universe, even if it's one person at a time.

There does seem to be a tendency for women to find or create places where they are needed. Unfortunately, this is a misplaced coping mechanism. Women can tend to wrap their identity and self-worth up in how many people "need" them. This can prove to be an unhealthy "latching on" for all parties involved.

Men tend to find their identity and self-worth in their accomplishments. This can, of courses, go wrong, too.

I can only say that I don't NEED to be needed. I don't need my boyfriend to constantly tell me he needs me. In fact, I don't need him ever to do that. I do need to feel that I'm valuable to him, and he shows me that very well.

I do know that if I died today, the world would go on turning. In short, if I needed to be needed (as in necessary) I would be very disappointed in that fact that I'm really not.

Michael C said...

Great post. I talk with me best friend every 3 months or so (he lives within 20 mins of me) and it's like we last spoke yesterday when we get together. What you said is so true!

Steph said...

I'd rather be wanted than "needed". As for womens needs, it's a very subjective thing and when people try to generalise the whole subject, we find the A-typical stereotypes come out.

All women are different, as are men, so i really don't like the broad concensus that the likes of Cleo/Cosmo and other people like to sell us.

Scotty said...

I think that to a degree, everyone wants to be needed. 'Need' to be needed... I am not sure.

Just as everyone is unique in their own ways, everyone wants someone else for different reasons.

As a general example, there are things that I talk about with girls that I don't talk about with guys. So, it would be safe to say that I want to have relationships with girls (friends or more than) just to talk about things I don't necessarily talk with the boys about.

The Exception said...

Kirk - Good point. Relationships should not be forced. I believe that the solid sort are about mutual affection, compatibility, and simply the desire to be with that person.

Kenneth - Guy friends are great when it comes to listening and being there. I am glad you are there for your friends.

I think men do have a more difficult time simple because they are raised believing that they are men, stoic, strong, and able to handle everything on their own. A man showing emotions is, perhaps, seen as being weak. And who likes a "weak" man...

But, when a man is comfortable with his emotions - he is actually quite attractive.

Kathryn - It is a taxing concept! (Thank Wombat!) I don't know that there is an answer, but it is interesting to see what others think.

Mike - What is your non-medical opinion?

Teri - Holding on loosely, I like it.

I know women who have left this office just knowing that "no one" can do their work. They don't understand that before they walk out that door, we already have someone lined up to fill the void. After a brief period of time, it as if that person was never there.

I dislike the idea of someone needing me - like you, I like actions that demonstrate that someone values my being a part of their life. I don't want them to "need" me, but to value me.

Perhaps the question posed should have been, "do women need to be valued!"

Michael C - You need to see that friend more often! 20 minutes away isn't far at all!!

Steph - Generalizations aren't my favorites either. As you said, they highlight the exceptions - which can not be overlooked.

Scotty - Like you, I communicate differently with my guy friends than with my girl friends - I am more honest and open with the former (which is weird now that I think about it!)

As you and Steph note - everyone is different and each brings something to the table that is of value.

In my work I like to talk about looking at the situation over the generalization. In this, I do think that the needs of each and the desires of each are particular to each person.

Liquid said...

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