What About YOUR Wants and Needs?

October 4, 2017

J 2.0, a longtime friend and wise counselor at Hooking Up Smart, recently shared this invaluable advice:

“If I had my youth to do over, I’d be far more forthcoming with men about my wants and needs and just let the chips fall where they may. That’s not to say I’d be demanding or clingy or needy–just honest and unashamed about my wants and needs. It would have been the best filter.”

This is HUGE. We so often keep our thoughts and wishes to ourselves at the very moment we should be speaking up! When J says that communicating what she wanted more directly would have been the best filter, she means that the way in which the man responded would have told her exactly what she needed to know. That is, was he all in or was she wasting her time with someone unwilling or unable to give her what she desired?

Strategic Benefits of Communicating Your Wants and Needs

1. He’s not a mind reader.

Your odds of getting what you wish for rise dramatically once the other person knows what that is. If you stay silent, you’re depending on him to guess what you want and initiate the conversation that will get you there. That’s an ineffective strategy, especially if he doesn’t want the same thing you do.

2. It signals high self-esteem.

When you are direct in communicating your wants and needs you’re letting him know you believe you deserve those things. You are confident enough of your own worth to make clear you won’t settle for less. It also suggests that you believe that you will get what you want, even if it’s not from him. That marks you as a woman of high value.

Sophia Loren said this:

“Sex appeal is 50% what you’ve got and 50% what they think you’ve got.”

That second half is all about how you present yourself to the world. Make it clear you won’t settle for less than you want and need.

Stop Sabotaging Yourself

When things don’t work out with someone we like, we usually find fault with the other person.

“She led me on.”

“He shouldn’t have said he liked me a lot if he didn’t want to be my boyfriend.”

But in many cases we are responsible for not having made clear what we wanted or expected.

Tim Hoch, in an article at Thought Catalog, writes about the ways in which we make our own lives harder. He makes the important point that in addition to communicating our expectations, we ought to make sure they’re reasonable:

Among their many shortcomings of your family and friends is the harsh reality that they cannot read your mind or anticipate your whims.

Did your boyfriend forget the six and a half month anniversary of your first movie date? Did your girlfriend refuse to call at an appointed hour? Did your friend fail to fawn over your tribal tattoo?

Unmet expectations will be at the root of most of your unhappiness in life. Minimize your expectations, maximize your joy.

Does speaking your mind feel too risky? Hoch says that’s a good thing:

Two words: Live boldly. Every single time you are offered a choice that involves greater risk, take it. You will lose on many of them but when you add them up at the end of your life you’ll be glad you did.

He points out the huge cost of wasting time with the wrong person:

If you had a million dollars in cash under your mattress, you would check it regularly and take precautions to insure it is safe. The one possession you have that is more important than money is time. But you don’t do anything to protect it. In fact you willingly give it to thieves. Selfish people, egotistical people, negative people, people who won’t shut up. Treat your time like Fort Knox. Guard it closely and give it only to those who deserve and respect it.

And he nails something I hear just about every single day from readers – people have trouble letting go of even the worst relationships.

Do you need to turn your back on a failed relationship?…Life is full of loss. But, in a sense, real happiness would not be possible without it.  It helps us appreciate and savor the things that really matter. It helps us grow. It can help us help others grow.

Closure is a word for people who have never really suffered. There’s no such thing. Just try to “manage” your loss. Put it in perspective.

Are You Settling or Being Too Picky?

I can see readers nodding as they read this – isn’t this a matter of common sense? Yet confusion abounds. Consider this recent letter to the Boston Globe from a 29 year-old woman who’s been dating a guy a couple of years younger. (Formatting below is mine.)

“He is very sweet, super funny, gentle, hardworking, and always willing to listen, but here are my concerns:

  • He’s very attractive, and sometimes I feel like he relies on his looks more than his mind.
  • He works but he lives at his parents house and dedicates most of his free time toward video games and the gym.
  • He doesn’t treat me that well. He assumes that when he comes over he will have dinner or breakfast, and it’s frustrating because we are always eating my food. He bought dinner twice and he complained about the price both times.
  • He seems to think our chemistry is off the charts, but I feel like it’s the worst I’ve ever had…his drive doesn’t match mine.

 I feel like he is a perfect fit on certain levels, but in those three areas, I keep getting disappointed. I can’t help but wonder if I am settling for the wrong person or being too picky.”


The best response (as always) was in the readers’ comments:

On what “certain levels” are you a perfect fit with this kid?

Is your dilemma that you’re 29 and fear giving up a bird in the hand?

He’s cheap, seems immature, and is bad in bed. What more is there? Find someone else.

Experience is a great teacher. Living boldly with self-respect is very difficult to pull off when you’re young. But it should help you to know that this is what you’re aiming for. That if you can take a risk here, a bold step there, things will go better for you.

J is sharing the wisdom of a woman who’s been happily married for many years. She can save you some precious time if you’ll take her advice to speak up about the things that matter to you most in a relationship.