To be seen, to be heard and to belong. Basic (relational) needs. For most, yes. Humans are relational people, we desire more than just food, shelter and clothing. Some studies even show that physical touch is necessary or required for a baby to thrive and without physical touch that baby cannot survive. Physical touch being here an example of a relational expression. When someone reaches out and touches your arm or hand a sensation is generated and typically, if we study close enough, we can see that the sensation is linked to the feeling of belonging because the gesture was meant to indicate- “I see you”.
Physical touch can sometimes be easier than verbal recognition and sometimes it can be harder. But lets for this purpose say that verbal recognition is more often most difficult. That’s why communication is a primary relational struggle and then physical recognition is most often an extension of the verbal recognition. Or even the physical recognition “says” what’s the words cannot say. Take for example when a loved one passes, we don’t always know what to say to offer comfort but if were able to we can provide physical condolences in a hug. Or lets take the example of “make up sex”- is the sex not meant to represent that the issue has been resolved whether there has been verbal agreement of this or not?
I’m getting off track so I’ll return- the desire to be seen for most people is so strong and at times is more of a need than a want. Feeling seen is to feel valued and respected. But at what point are we placing too much emphasis on this desire to be seen. Too much validation and support being required. Too many wounds needing to be kissed by someone else. Too much responsibility for emotional management being passed to someone else. Too much authority over our own happiness being given to another human being.
I heard a statement once about how “humans make terrible gods” and included in that message was more about how we often idolize a person and place on them the responsibility to generate our happiness. I can tell you that this idea- humans are terrible gods- was life changing for my marriage. That statement changed my perspective not necessarily of my husband but of myself. I learn that what I needed was to take responsibility for my life and the energy that I put in to what I deem as a “need”. When I stopped seeing happiness as an objective of life and focused more on growth happiness came naturally and independently of my husbands behaviors.
A friend of mine is currently intrigued by the concept of “closure”. Closure is the need to be seen and heard. It’s the desire for another person to validate what either did or did not happen within a relationship. Closure in concept is a wonderful idea and would be wildly more effective if the emphasis was on the person who desire the closure conversation and less on the other person. The person purposing that closure is required, most often approaches the conversation with the expectation that the other person is to tend to their emotional needs, when this doesn’t happen, the craving for so-called “closure” increases and is coupled with frustration. Frustration due to unmet needs. Frustration as a result of unrealistic expectations.
Realistic expectations should first maintain that you are responsible for your own emotional management. Realistic expectations should maintain that the desire to be seen, heard and to belong is a basic human need and basic human needs are initiated in utero. The desire to be fully and totally understood is not the same thing as being seen, heard and belonging when a person is a full blown adult. Unmet needs in utero, infancy, childhood and then adulthood result in continued unrealistic expectations.
If you are having relational issues in adulthood, have you paused to think about the unmet needs of your childhood. Have you considered how you’re maintaining unrealistic expectations for your adult relationships? Have you begun to work towards resolving misconceptions? Humans are relational beings but we also falsely identify wants for needs and place responsibility on someone else to meet those needs. Being introspective takes a lot of work but you can adjust the time that you’re using on misplaced energy to redirect the focus to yourself. Take the time to consider what your real needs are and to be brave enough to pursue yourself.