Wants and needs. As novice submissives, we hear this phrase over and over. Make sure you know your wants and needs. Does this person or that person fulfill your wants and needs? How should we talk about our wants and needs with someone? First, let's define them.
Need: Something that is not negotiable for a relationship to exist. Things like security, trust, honesty, monogamy (or non-monogamy) fall into a need category.
Want: Anything that would be nice to have in addition to your needs, but they aren't all required all/most/any of the time. Things like cuddling, play time, frequent sex, date nights, the decision to have children.
(Caveat - please know that your wants and needs are personal and unique. It's possible that what I've given as examples could be in different lists for you. That's okay!)
Let me share why needs are so important to your overall health and happiness in a relationship and why settling for less than what you need is harmful to you and the relationship.
I'm going to use the basic needs of security, comfort, and love for this discussion but any needs that you have on your list will apply just as well. Feel free to make this part of your personal analysis. This is for your own development and I hope that it will help you see why needs are so important.
Security is the first need that you should have met to live. This can be physical, emotional or financial security. Without the sense of safety and security, you can not easily go about your day. Things that can threaten your security are unemployment, abuse, and terrorist threats. A breakdown of security can make all other needs unimportant until this one is rebuilt. Just think about if you lost your house to a flood, how would you respond to the threat on your security? Would food or clean clothing be as important or would they take a back seat to re-securing a home?
Comfort is also an important need for people. With comfort, you add food, clothing, and other material goods. Generally, these would be things to enhance the security of your life. Nourishment of your body, mind, and heart comes from providing comfort for yourself. Comfort in a relationship could be trust, honesty, openness, and commonality. Without comfort, you could experience malnourishment, depression and other physical and emotional stress.
Love is the last need that I'm going to cover here. Love is relative to each person and is not restricted to intimate spousal love. Friendships and familial love are also important in your life for balance. It's hard to be happy if you feel unloved. People who feel unloved can experience depression, stress and some have taken their own life. Love is just that important.
As a submissive, you may have more base needs that a dominant provides. The sense of control from your partner is one that I can think of. In order for you to feel whole in your submission, you may need a dominant to exert control over you. This is considered a need; you can't be submissive without it.
A lot of what we experience as stress and depression and a sense of lacking is due to our needs not being fulfilled. These deficits impact us in different ways, but over the long-term, the lack of having our needs met can make us ill, very unhappy and frustrated. For example, what happens if your greatest need of affection wasn't being reached? Would you feel unwanted, alone, frustrated or unhappy? Of course, you would!
Not all feelings of sadness, frustration or depression have to do with lack of satisfied needs, but most can be a lead back to a basic need or desire being ignored. It is my belief that more divorces happen because someone's needs aren't being met than any other reason. An open and honest conversation could have prevented some compatibility issues in many relationships.
As with all D/s relationships, communication is encouraged anyway, so make sure your needs are communicated as well. If they change, let your partner know. The power exchange has to do with needs as well as everything else in the relationship, so use it to get what you need.
Settling For Less
So you've found out what your needs are, and you are entering a relationship. What if you can't get all of your needs met in that relationship? Do you settle for less than what you need? How do you cope? Getting only some of your needs met, as I've said before, can have negative consequences and could mean the end of the relationship.
When it comes to needs you should never settle for less. There is a reason why you have made a list of needs compared to wants. Needs are just that. You have to have them to be happy. Make sure you share you needs long before your wants hit the table.
Understanding your needs and how important certain ones in your life is a key component to finally reaching happiness and fulfillment. Take some time this week and talk to someone you care about, about your needs for a relationship and personal goals and see where they are as far as their own needs. Set up accountability partners if you can with making sure you stay on track with your needs and protecting your current and future happiness.
The next time you take a look at your needs list, make a note of how important that need is. You can always scale them so that you can make sure your base needs are being met. Never settle for less than what you need. Submissives have needs too, make sure yours get met.