When the first guy I ever loved broke up with me, one of the things he said was, “You never needed me and that hurt a lot.”
It stunned and confused me at the time. What did he mean? Of course, I needed him. I thought we needed each other. What did being “needed” have to do with anything? After all, I prided myself on my independence. But in my rush to prove how strong and independent I was I may have broken his heart by making him feel like he was not needed.
Years later, I understood what he meant. It opened my eyes to something vital about attraction and love. We underestimate the value of need when it comes to love.
Yet it’s in our very language. “I need you” can be synonymous with “I love you”.
“I can’t live without you” can express both “I need you/ I love you”. A lot of our language uses “need” when describing love. While we fear appearing “needy”, we can hurt those who love us if we act like we don’t need them at all.
Don’t we feel most loved when we are needed? Isn’t that true for others? Are love and need deeply intertwined and impossible to separate without losing both.
At last, the minute hand moves. Sixty more ticks until it moves again. Sixty more moves until the hour hand shifts and you can leave. Time is crawling. The clock must see you glaring at it because it moves slower and slower until you’re not sure if it moves at all.
You wonder, ‘Is this hell?’
In desperation, you plot an elaborate escape for the door, one so advanced it would make the Mission Impossible plots look like child’s play by comparison. Perhaps you could crawl under the desks and make your escape. Would the other students snitch on you? Would they join?
Your eyes glaze over. The professor continues to drone about “Sixty Uses of Cardboard“.
This is hell, you’re sure. What else can this be?
Moments like these never end.
But there is an escape if you can daydream. It’s one of the benefits of being a daydreamer.
Don’t ignore red flags
I hope my experience can serve as a warning to others. Names and details have been altered to protect privacy, but this story is real. These are based on the best of my recall. It was years ago that I met the person I will call Cindy.
Cindy is the person who made me realize that you should always listen to your gut instinct. When something or someone doesn’t feel right, listen to that. Don’t let yourself get caught like I did.
When Cindy and I met for the first time in real life (until then we had been corresponding via social media) she asked me, “How many people are on your enemies’ list?”
That was the first of many, many red flags.
I’ll have a cup of routine!
It’s a pity “routine” is seen as the antithesis of a “good” life in much of Western Culture. Growing up I was bombarded with quotes and slogans and messages from popular media that “life was meant to be lived as an adventure”. I got the message loud and clear that you weren’t living life right if you lived in a routine.
What’s sad is that this message is all wrong. We’re at our most productive when we have a good routine. The most important routines are the ones we develop for our daily life.
In the social media age, the definition of “friend” has changed dramatically. Now a person can have a thousand, a million, maybe even a billion friends. Nevertheless, we are lonelier than ever.
It was my third meeting with the future Mr. W. We were on a train and my friend, Elle, was traveling with us. Mr. W and I had broken into a discussion about Roman History through my bad Japanese and his not-much-better English. Despite the struggle, we were both engaged when he received a text from his company. While he was distracted, Elle leaned close to my ear and said:
I looked over my shoulder at her in confusion. She was all smiles as she added, “Remember what we talked about? Japanese guys don’t like that. You’re flirting, not giving a history lesson. You’re boring him.”
And then I felt ashamed.
The goal is not always as important as the journey.