Thoughts on Needs and Boundaries

Based on a writing prompt from Laurie Wagner. Also, features a brief NSFW analogy.

If you really knew me, you know I’m terrible at asking for help.

I’m even worse at telling people no or standing up for my own needs and boundaries.

I assume I can love everyone hard enough that they won’t hurt me.

This has literally never worked, in my entire life.

Of course there are plenty of people in my life that I love who have never hurt me, but they would have never hurt me in the first place. At least, never intentionally.

The thing I have learned, after trying too hard and giving too much for too many years, is this: you can’t love someone into loving you the way you need to be loved.

This goes for friendships and romantic relationships.

You can only give so much. Eventually, you bump right up against the cliche. Can’t pour from an empty cup.

And really, that kind of loving and giving is its own form of shitty, manipulative immaturity that doesn’t serve anyone. Not your friends, not your lovers.

Speaking of lovers, a good example for this concept is faking an orgasm.

It is often easier to just fake it, give the performance, than it is to have a conversation with your partner about your needs and desires.

It’s even more difficult to have that conversation once you’ve been faking your orgasms for a while. Because you’re lying, even if it’s not a lie meant to hurt them.

Emotional needs can become the same kind of taboo and trap. Once you’ve taken it on the chin (so to speak) for long enough, having to tap out is going to seem like an impossible feat.

I say all of that only because I do both of those things pretty regularly and have suffered for it.

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This is one of those things conversations that I don’t have any kind of solution for, because I’m still actively working on it myself.

When I say I’ve suffered, I mean I’ve stayed in relationships and friendships that were toxic for me longer than was healthy. I’ve hurt people and broken trust. I’ve disappointed people and been disappointed myself.

But since 2017 started, I’ve been actively taking inventory of what I actually need and want in life, which is a very “behind the scenes” kind of process.

By the time I realized that I want certain things and don’t want other things, I’m usually living in some form of opposition to those needs.

You don’t know until you know, I guess.

At this point, I’m working towards being proactive about my needs and boundaries. I’ve been spending a lot more time alone, in my house, which seems to feel like the safest way to do this work.

Eventually I’ll get a therapist or something, I promise. But for now I’m going to keep writing and relistening to the same few albums and journaling and wearing the same outfits and eating really boring food.

That’s not entirely helpful for anyone else, I realize. But here’s what I’m thinking now.

I don’t know if there really is a point at which we can say that we have our needs and boundaries figured out, but I do think that we can get better at expressing them.

We owe it to the people in our lives to be honest and forthcoming with what we need from them. Otherwise, we set all parties up to fail and disappoint eventually.

I’ll just gently encourage you to pay attention to your needs and boundaries. Start to notice when you surrender more of yourself than you really have to give.

If you’re one of those people who are really good at boundaries and communicating your needs, please feel free to share your tips with the class. Lord knows I could use them.

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