Who Is Responsible For Your Needs?
By: Kathy
September 1, 2013

Who is responsible for meeting your emotional needs?  This is an issue that happens very commonly and causes tremendous frustration for both parties in a relationship.  I have in the past referred to it as “I feel pain, what’d you do?!”

What happens is we feel something, but we don’t even get a chance to explore our feeling, we just automatically, without realizing it, assign it to something outside of ourselves.  For example, a guy walks in and is whistling.   His wife is concentrating on something and the whistling makes concentrating harder.  She barks at her partner to stop whistling.  She may even attack his character. . . “You’re always whistling, why do you DO that?!”  Do you see what I mean in this example?  What she is really feeling is frustrated with herself because she can’t concentrate, but she ASSIGNS it to her partner and bludgeons him for ‘making’ her not be able to concentrate.

So let’s break this down.  When this is permitted to go on, she is relieved of the responsibility of knowing what she feels and being in touch with her own feelings (frustration with herself).  She has no responsibility to be able to articulate her feelings (insecure/inadequate).  She just feels the tiniest surge of negative emotion and deflects it elsewhere.  She is holding other people accountable for HER feelings which leaves them doing all of the work  as they try to anticipate her needs – when she doesn’t even know them herself!

I don’t know about you, but I don’t find that too attractive!  Unfortunately, I see this in many forms. . .

UNDERFUNCTIONER & OVERFUNCTIONER – One person who is very primitive in this way and not in touch with their needs (underfunctioner) partnered up with someone who contorts and adjusts to try to meet their needs (overfunctioner) before their partner even feels them!  When this happens eventually the overfunctioner gets fed up because they can never get it right and please their partner.  When they stop overfunctioning, the underfunctioner will eventually have to learn their own feelings and deal with them (although they will fight it tooth and nail!).  The recovery is like watching a train wreck, but if both parties are workable, they can each grow into mature, appropriately functioning adults.

BOTH UNDERFUNCTIONING – In this scenario, both parties are woefully out of touch with their own feelings and assign any hurt they feel to their partner (or someone else, if partner is not around).  They fight like cats and dogs or they’ve just shut down and co-exist.  Neither one takes a second to look into themselves and get in touch with their deeper feeling because they are too busy cracking on their partner for it.  This is fixable, too, but the first order of business is to yank them away from each other and make them look at themselves.  Picture being in the middle of two street gangs and trying to convince them they should not fight!

If we want healthy relationships, we have GOT to look at ourselves and acknowledge our emotional OVER or UNDER functioning .  If we don’t see that point, then we will not get better.  Our marriages will fail, our relationships with our kids, our extended family, coworkers, and friends will be strained.  When we see it, we can work to change it.  Normal, healthy functioning truly is better!  It may be contrary to the way you’ve always done it, but I can assure you that when we take responsibility for our own feelings and learn to articulate them instead of making other people responsible for them, our relationships will be relieved of a lot of tension, pain and anguish and the love can begin to grow again!