In one of my moments the other day, feeling lonely and a little sorry for myself, I was thinking about basic needs. I followed my mind as it wandered over to Maslow. (What a common end point, I know.) It occurred to me that perhaps a great part of the reason many people in bad relationships, or no relationship at all, are unhappy is because they are lacking in fulfillment of basic needs. NOT to say by any stretch that being in a relationship instantly equates to happiness, but a GOOD relationship can certainly add to a fulfilling life.
Obviously, with these statements, you can surmise that I’m realizing that I am a relationship person. I like having someone around. That warm body next to you when you sleep kind of thing. I love my friends, but they can’t provide all that a good partner can provide.
The long, slow death of my marriage left me with some empty spots in me that will take a long time to heal. But, it did give me a great foundation for being a single mom. If I look at Maslow’s Hierarchy (thanks to Wikimedia Commons for the graphic), I’m pretty good in regard to Self- Actualization. I’m a pretty tough person most days, I’m accepting, I’m a good problem solver, creative, etc. But, things such as self-esteem, confidence, a sense of belonging, a sense of security (and, obviously, sex) have long gone by the wayside.
I know I’m not alone in “missing” things as a single mom, a single woman or just a single person. I also know that we all learn how to make up for things we lack. It’s all about survival. You adapt or you die – physically and/or emotionally.
Society tells us that we need a partner. Family tells us that when you grow up, you’ll be married and live happily ever after. Even childhood cartoons show us that we need to find a perfect partner and live in bliss until the end of our days.
The reality is that approximately half of marriages end in divorce. Is that because we are rushing into relationships to “fulfill” what we are expected to do? Are we naïve in regard to what we think we want when we marry? I certainly don’t think that the vast majority of people take relationships too lightly. The pain that comes as a result of divorce is brutal. Regardless of who “wants” a divorce in a relationship, it’s not an easy decision to make or path to walk.
Divorce or the breakup of a long-term relationship changes the way people view themselves. Up pops the self-doubt… Was I not worthy of a good relationship? Will I ever be worthy? Will I find someone? Why did my dreams not come true like other people’s? The general “Why me?” It takes a strong person to learn to adapt to the change in lifestyle (and usually income). When you lose a relationship, it’s good to take time to grieve. To reflect. And to eventually move on. Loneliness and the need to feel desired can lead to poor choices – other relationships that don’t last, picking a new partner who is not compatible, but “making it work” in order to be part of a “we.”
We all have our core needs that need to be fulfilled in some manner. Picking another bad relationship after the end of one won’t fulfill those core needs. It just fills an empty spot.
Adaptation. When a person loses a sense, their other senses tend to heighten to accommodate. I’m learning to fulfill my core needs in different ways, as a single woman. I’m learning to adapt my life to my new normal. I miss having a relationship, but I’m not willing to endure more heartbreak. I am focusing on me. Focusing on my kids. Focusing on the things that I want in my life.
I know one thing for sure – I will not only survive, I will excel. I will succeed. I may be lacking in 4 of the 5 categories, but in different ways I am growing by leaps and bounds. I am adapting, evolving.