meet my needs

“He doesn’t love me enough to move the relationship forward.”  That was the basics.  I’ve heard it before.  He’ll say it has nothing to do with love, but we’ll feel it has everything to do with it.  Everything else is an excuse because when a man really loves a woman, he’ll get creative, he’ll make it happen.  He’ll fight for it.  So.  Now.  Here we are, deciding whether or not to pack our things.  Move in with a friend.  We dread the idea of combing craigslist for a smaller apartment.  We cry.  We ask everyone what we should do, hoping someone will serve a valid argument why we should stay.

“He doesn’t love me enough to make the next step” was the basics of an email I just received.  But it’s not just her.  It’s almost every single woman I know.  I hate that that’s true.  I’ve been there.  I’ve also been to the Being Fearless conference, and here’s what I learned about needs.  We complain that someone else isn’t meeting ours, but we never ask if we’re meeting ours.  “I need to feel…”  Fill in the blank.  I’ll be happy when my kid pees in the potty, when I lose weight, when I get accepted to that program, when I’m respected as an artist, when I’m on Oprah.  Now dissect it.  I need respect.  I need validation.  I need to be loved more.  I need to be accepted for who I am.  Then ask yourself if you’re doing it.  How can you, each day, alone, give yourself that need?  I know what this sounds like.  Self-help vomit.  I know.  But I’ve been in it lately.  Deep.  And I’m sharing it because it has helped me.

So I responded to the email with: “Not loving me enough.”  That’s the need you’re not getting met, right?  I mean, clearly.  So ask yourself, and this might make it easier for you, “am I loving me enough?”  I’m CERTAIN your answer will be NO.  See you’re chasing that need.  Wanting to be loved enough… but are you loving yourself enough?   Are you taking care of you, realizing that you are worth love, and at the end of the day, do you KNOW that you are WORTH, even if you are alone.  You were brought into this world as YOU, not an US.  You are worthy just because you are alive.  I worry you know this intellectually but don’t feel it.  To feel it, you might just have to be on your own, to really know it and believe it.  And once you do, the moment you really believe it, your world will change because you will behave differently.  You will TAKE OWNERSHIP of your LIFE!  You won’t let HIM make decisions for you… by his not making decisions.  YOU will do what you want and need to do for yourself, and then you will be loved enough.  I know it’s hard, but our hardest times are when we grow the most.  And that, I’m certain, is part of what life is about.  Growing and discovering who you are, walking into the fear, instead of running from it.  I know it’s Stuart Smalley of me, but I don’t care.

For me, it has been validation.  I’m sure that’s true for a lot of people.  It’s because deep down we don’t believe in ourselves, in our work, not deep down.  It’s why being on Oprah seems to be “it” for us.  Then people will know.  Then I’ll be taken seriously.  NO!  You need to take you seriously, and if you don’t, find a way to work on it.  Find out why you don’t.  For me, it’s intelligence.  I doubt mine, often.  Maybe it’s a trait I inherited from my mother.  I don’t know.  What I do know is that I doubt it, and comparing it to others isn’t the answer since there will always be someone smarter, prettier, wealthier around.  It’s about perspective.  Intelligence has nothing to do with test scores or schools.  Some of the smartest people I know are walking wrecks.  It’s the total package.  We need to remind ourselves of our total worth.  We do what we can each day so we begin to believe in ourselves more.  For me, it might mean learning a new word each day.  Reading something interesting, pushing myself into something new.  But it’s my own need, so I figure out how to fill it.



  1. This post reveals great maturity on your part. As soon as we gals can learn this–really put it into practice–the sooner we'll be happy. Same thing goes for guys.

    I used to have a friend who always played the victim. She waited for someone else to make decisions, to make her feel good, to validate her. And God help you if you got it wrong. I feel sorry for her every day that she can't appreciate these facts the way you did in this post.

    Have fun in Austin! I can't wait to see pictures…

  2. I know blogging is basically your job, but quite seriously, does a day ever go by when you don't think about your relationship, just live in it without analyzing it?

    My concern would be that what are, so to speak, your job requirements might be fatal to what might otherwise be a happy relationship. I truly believe you can kill anything if you always look at it so closely so as to smoosh it with your eyeball.

  3. Stephanie,

    Do you have a comments policy? It's hard to believe no one's posted on this yet, and my commentshaven't gone through in the past. Do you monitor the comments before they go up?


  4. You know, I don't analyze everything. It just seems like it because of what I write. And I don't get "paid" to write this blog. I make a marginal amount in advertising revenue. Marginal. Like, movie money. Some days are more pensive than others by way of my interactions, personal and internet-based. Believe me, I might do a bit of navel contemplation, but I also pick my nose with the best of 'em.

  5. It's so weird to me that you posted this particular topic today. I was just writing about something very similar. All through my life I've never felt like I was enough. Not smart enough, not funny enough, not beautiful enough, not skinny enough, not curvy enough. You name it, I wasn't enough. And even as I've become "more" of any of those things, it was never enough. I recognize it in myself and I know where it comes from. It's taken me a long time to accept the person I am, while striving to be better. Somewhere along the line, I decided that it didn't matter if I was enough for everyone else, as long as I was enough for me. Awesome post.

  6. I think you've misinterpreted my comment.

    I didn't mean you get paid *to blog*, but that you are a writer. This is your writing. Ergo, this is your work. Ergo, this is your job.

    And I think if you analyzed everything (again, not what I said, I specifically asked about the seemingly continuous analysis *of your relationship*), if you anazlyzed everything and wrote about analyzing everything, your relationship wouldn't seem to be under such a microscope. It may be a fallacy that you are relationship-obsessed, but it sure is the impression I, at least, have, and I sometimes wonder if it's healthy for a healthy relationship to be examined this much.

    But if you didn't blog about your relationship as often, would your blog still be the draw for your work (again, that's your writing) that it is now? Is it the devastating fact that you can only survive within your genre so long as you continue to (again, in my mind at least) poke and eye a perfectly fine relationship until it withers?

    I think at a certain point, you may have to choose the genre or the relationship. And I think you would still have a loyal following if you chose to analyze kumquats, say, or fall leaves or crayons. The faces would change, of course, with some who I suspect read for train wreck posts departing for less happy pastures.

    But I have no doubt that should you ever elect to change genres, you would still enjoy the same level of success.

    (Who knows? Maybe you do analyze everything, but choose to blog 80/20 in favor of relationship material and against kumquats and fall leaves and crayons? No, wait; you just said you didn't analyze everything.)

    Anyway, those are my thoughts, delivered because I am not sure any relationship – even the healthiest – could longterm survive the depth and persistance of scrutiny you seem to deliver to your readers here without some deep scars. And I'd hate to see you lose something you value deeply for fear of driving off a few readers.

    Blog kumquats. Blog fall leaves. Blog crayons.

    And then pack.

  7. I really believe in this now and I wish I had thought about it and lived it back in my twenties and younger dating days. I think it is very typical of women to look for their needs to be met elsewhere, without really assessing what those needs are.

    I agree that once you take care to know yourself, and meet your own needs, you won't put up with the c*ap anymore, naturally. And voila, you will find the right people, the ones you really want, will come into your life.

    Great post.

  8. Yes, Stephanie! You are remarkably intelligent, just as you are, and I know this by reading what you say right here. You have got it figured out, gal. Does not mean you don't have work to do. As long as we are alive, we ALL have work to do. But you, sister, are on exactly the right path.

    It took me a long time to learn the lesson that you have shared here. Although I have had glimpses of this insight at various points throughout my life, I really just learned it this past year. And what a miraculous life I lead now, so much different than the one through which I stumbled before I took responsibility for my own life.

    Way to have it together and to articulate this lesson so beautifully. I am glad that your blog has so much notoriety, as this lesson will hit many eyes that need to read it.

    Thank you.

  9. I am a 16 year old kid and so maybe this is supposed to all be a little over my head, but honestly I am going through something sort of like it on a much smaller level. But I like that even though your considerably more mature than me you can help me get through the stupid trivial mess that is high school. So maybe one day I will be able to get over the boy and realize I have my whole life ahead of me and I am fabulous, but for now I just have to work on it. And I guess I just want to say thank you Stephanie.

  10. Fantastic! This came at exactly the right time, just when I needed to be reminded that I am me, and I need no one but myself to power through this. He is just an added bonus…no matter how much he means to me, he is not a vital part of my life. I can survive on my own. Thank you.

  11. Stuart Smalley makes me giggle. But seriously, "We need to remind ourselves of our total worth. We do what we can each day so we can begin to believe in ourselves more." YES. So great.

  12. I think lack of true acceptance for self and love for self are at the heart of most human ills.

    What is turned inward is also reflected outward.

    I wish you didn't feel the need to apologize or explain sometimes. Though I understand it. I think I do it too (in my work I'll hear myself say: "I know you guys are going to think this is hippie dippie…but—").

    (As you know) not all self help is garbage. One of the big issues with self help materials is the amount of accompanying excess words. But it's hard for us busy Western consumers to hear over the din. And sometimes we just don't listen. We're often not really open and ready to listen to others.

    So the few messages we yearn to learn have to be wrapped and presented.

  13. Intellectually understanding you are enough and emotionally understanding it are two different things. How many times have I intellectually understood a guy was not right for me? But understanding it emotionally is the hard part, because sometimes all you can do it hold on tight, wait and ride it out. No matter how much you love yourself, emotional pain is emotional pain. Endings of relationships are sad.

  14. I think as women somewhere along the way we decided to stop celebrating ourselves and eachother. And we've sort of let ourselves be defined by external factors and judgement. It's really sad and I see it in everything from snarky comments at work from women to other women because they somehow feel threatened, to my friends not thinking they are worth a boyfriend who will treat them the way they want because it somehow solifies them as brats and they could never become "that bitch", to mother daughter relations, even to people posting some really shit-ass comments on blogs about being self-centered, and egoistic and shallow (and for god's sakes it's your blog, for the love) and even when I posted about a NY event I went to that celebrated women I got the NASTIEST profanity back on that topic that I had to delete, and even more about how I must be such a self-centered bitch who should't dare to dream because I just wasn't good enough…

    Well,what's wrong with a little Stuart Smalley? This is New York, and we could really use it…who the hell else is going to be our cheerleader? Just us I think, and we're without any support if we're at odds with ourselves.

  15. I notice the competitiveness amongst the single female faculty members at work, and it is sad. Desperation to make things work in a relationship with a man transposes itself onto desperation to seem like the "best" woman above all women. What happened to all of us being sororial?

    I am glad you wrote this, Stephanie. Your voice has changed so much. I certainly feel that you are a kindred spirit because your spirit is stronger!

  16. Sallie,

    Don't assume that Stephanie is writing this for the purposes of her own self-scrutiny. She might be sharing something that can help other women deal with some very heavy issues.

    I am also pretty sure that The Suitor won't get "driven off" so easily. He probably respects her a lot more than that. They can set their own boundaries of what's acceptable to write about or not. In the meantime, just appreciate the wisdom that this woman is offering.

  17. Good job, Marni.

    Stephanie, I really have liked some of your recent posts. I sense a measured change in you and I really like it.

  18. Sallie is right, but I believe that this is much more a Mars/Venus thing than it is about SK. Women are much more introspective than men. Men will talk about almost anything in their lives more than they will talk about the woman in their lives, usually.

    The self-doubt is much more natural for women as well. I heard a doctor talk about it on TV. It has to do with the connective tissue between the right and left lobes of the brain. It is a fascinating study that you'd need a full book to explain, but believe me, it's natural.

  19. one thing i've learned from a buddhist friend that has been immesurably helpful to me is to not compare oneself to other people. just don't do it. what's the point? you don't become more smart, sucessful, thin, whatever, by judging other people (and often reducing thier humanity to how smart, sucessful, thin they are)instead of figuring how to be more you, whatever that may be.

    one of my role models is quentin crisp. a dead english gay male actor/writer/human being-pretty different than my straight white 20-something lady self- but his journals are an amazing testament to a man who devoted his whole life to being himself, someone who never felt he could be anything other than quentin crisp, even if it meant facing lonliness or even violence due to his effeminate manners. his life was in amy ways about truly being himself, and about allowing others to be themselves. and he was deeply witty. a real inspiration.

  20. It may sounds like smarmy crap, but I think most people reading know you're right. We'll never be satisfied with the outside validation, love, etc. until we're ok with the validation and love we're giving ourselves.

    P.S. Right there with you on the validation issues. I, sadly, bask in praise.

  21. Hey Stephanie.

    I enjoy most of the things you write, you have intelligence and honesty. but this one stood out because we all need to hear this and I especially did yesterday.

  22. "walking into the fear, instead of running from it…"

    That's the truth. Terrific post.

  23. The self-doubt is much more natural for women as well. I heard a doctor talk about it on TV. It has to do with the connective tissue between the right and left lobes of the brain. It is a fascinating study that you'd need a full book to explain, but believe me, it's natural.

    Hey Joey B,

    I woulda thought that connective tissue only facilitates communication within the brain. The positivity or negativity of that communication as feedback mechanism between left and right hemispheres is not just neurological in itself, but relates to society. Kinda like you get a new phone network and you can hook up with your friends more often. That doesn't mean you are inevitably going to be wallowing in self doubt, as a consequence, now does it?

  24. I like the point you make here. Learning to care for ourselves and recognizing our self-worth are lessons that benefit all people, women and men alike. And so many people seem to lack this self reliance. Maybe it's a problem that more women than men face, but I'm not sure. I know a few men who could benefit from considering their true needs and finding ways to meet them themselves. I think the process you describe from the Fearless seminar is so helpful, and I'd love to see more people doing it.

    I'm sure you know your friend well enough that the advice you gave actually did apply to her, but I want to point out that not all women lack self-worth. Not all women don't love themselves enough. We can't always assume that the need that is not getting met is "not loving me enough." Sometimes the woman loves herself plenty, and is confident in her worth, but still feels hurt when she realizes that the person she wants to be with doesn't feel the same way. Sometimes the "need" isn't love, it's partnership. And that's a need that cannot be met by oneself.

  25. Amanda B, I don't think partnership is a need. Partnership meets a need we have, something more basic. Needing partnership means you need something else, something deeper than that. It usually means needing to be loved, fully.

    "But I like taking care of someone, cooking, making their favorites, getting things they like. Small thoughtful gestures for them make me feel good. I enjoy and need that." Then do it for your friends. Do it for yourself. So the need to love can be filled outside a partnership… I believe someone who says "I need partnership" is really saying, "I need to be loved, completely, and fully." And maybe they should start by doing that, filling that need for their self, first. I bet if they're honest with their self, they aren't doing that. If that's their desperate need, what they want more than anything, they should give it to themselves first.

  26. "The positivity or negativity of that communication as feedback mechanism between left and right hemispheres is not just neurological in itself, but relates to society."

    It could be related to society, but the self-doubt I was referring to is not necessarily negative. IMHO, men have less self-doubt than women, simply because they do not readily access that part of the brain that contains the self-doubt. It's not always bad to have this self-doubt, either. For example, imvho, it's the reason why most of the 120 mph accidents that kids get into involve male drivers. Guys just don't hear that part of the brain telling them that maybe this isn't a great idea.

  27. you can only find true love once you learn to love yourself. that's something i strongly agree with you on and i'm trying to get to that point. it's hard, but at least i'm trying….

  28. Stephanie – I definitely think what you're saying is monumentally insightful for some people, but I still have to disagree in the universal application of it.

    "I believe someone who says "I need partnership" is really saying, "I need to be loved, completely, and fully."

    If you tack on the words "by someone else" to the end of that statement then I definitely agree. Human beings are social animals, and despite our senses of self we still need love that comes from without, in addition to within, ourselves. And I didn't mean to suggest that only a romantic partner can fill that need. Boyfriends, friends, family, strangers on the internet, they all satisfy that need that we simply can't give ourselves.

    I'm not at all arguing that people don't (often) need to be honest with themselves about how well they are meeting their own needs before blindly looking for someone to meet them for them. I'm just saying that finding that ability to love yourself wholly doesn't, in my opinion, substitute for the fulfillment we get from others. Do you believe that people should expect to be able to go live on the top of a mountain, with only their love of themselves to sustain them, and somehow be healthy and whole? I believe this would be an excellent exercise in the short term for anyone, but even the most self-sufficient, self-reliant, self-confident person would lack that partnership that we as people crave. In the whole of one's life, people need other people.

    Thanks for the challenging posts of late. Very thoughtful.

  29. JoeyB said:

    "[…] the self-doubt I was referring to is not necessarily negative. IMHO, men have less self-doubt than women, simply because they do not readily access that part of the brain that contains the self-doubt. It's not always bad to have this self-doubt, either. For example, imvho, it's the reason why most of the 120 mph accidents that kids get into involve male drivers. Guys just don't hear that part of the brain telling them that maybe this isn't a great idea."

    Joey, I hear what you are saying. But once again, there are no neurological centres which could be correctly understood as "the locale of self-doubt"

    What you may have instead are logical, linguistic processing centres and holistic, intuitive processing centres. For sure, having a greater connection between these two MIGHT, in some instances, produce greater self-doubt, but I'm sure you can see this greater connectivity could perhaps just as easily produce a deeper and more complex sense of self-assurety.

  30. Stephanie~
    This is my favorite thing you have EVER written. I emailed it to myself so that I could read it whenever I needed to. I also passed it along to my mother, female friends and a co-worker, all of whom I felt could relate to or benefit from reading it.

    Reading this was like reading my own diary. It is (in written form) VERBATIM the things that I have internally processed over the past year. After 26 years of life, I have finally discovered the key to loving myself, and it has unleashed the strongest, freest, most beautiful version of me that I have yet known. There are a variety of reasons that led to my self-discovery, but ultimately, it wouldn't have happened if I had not been forced to be alone (the man I had completely fallen for, would not commit).

    Its funny how learning to love one’s self is really about letting go of insecurities: the insecurities that you create for yourself that bring you down. Once you stop living in fear of your weaknesses being exposed, then you can actually start LIVING. It changes your life profoundly, for there is nothing to hold you back from trying over & over to achieve your desired outcome. Now I see "negatives" as learning experiences that make me a better person.

    In the broader sense, I am overwhelmed with the notion that everything positive and negative in life is interrelated. I don’t pity myself or see myself as unlucky. I see my life as an elaborate mosaic of experiences… I would never take anything back; the pleasure and pain, the successes/mistakes, the beautiful or ugly, every person I have touched or who has touched me. The patchwork continues to expand and get richer with time.
    I am continually amazed that there is so much to learn & love in this lifetime.

    So, Thank You Stephanie, for sharing.

    I know I will be reading.

  31. Thank you. I really needed this post at this exact moment. I felt like you were speaking directly to me…maybe over coffee.

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