I love music but it’s rare for an artist to elicit a personal investment of emotion from me.  I say “rare” because as I sit here and listen to one of my favorite albums, barely getting past track two, I am experiencing that feeling and I know why.

When the track Window Seat by Erykah Badu hit airwaves in heavy rotation in 2010, it resonated with me.  Not just because it was an artist that I admired both for her musical talents and the way that she seemed to live her life, but because I was unapologetically in a love relationship.  I was the girl that sickeningly gushed about her man and welcomed the butterflies that I had been missing for so long.  Choosing to invest my emotions into one person with reckless abandon, I referenced myself as in a “willing love state”.

Five years and many experiences later, I hear this song and smile at the changed interpretation and the part of the lyrics message that was appealing to me all along.  While Erykah longs for temporary escape and exploration, the bridge of the song was where I was finding magic, then and now.  The truth to how I seek to experience love was underlined by measured percussion and handclaps:

But I need you to want me

I need you to miss me

I need your attention

I need you next to me

Oh I

I need someone to clap for me

I need your direction

(I want you to need me)

 

I need you to miss me

I need somebody come get me

I need your attention, yes

I need your energy

I need someone to clap for me

I need your direction

Somebody say come back, come back baby

 

I realized that I enjoy the experience of loving when it has an unashamed air of need.  Not co-dependency, for all of the armchair psychiatrists out there, but mutual necessity.    The lyrics make me think of the warmth of a love scenario that is born from want, nurtured by passion and investment, then matures into an essential asset, reducing walls and unnecessary boundaries so that you become your most willing.  This is the kind of need that makes you vulnerable to the experience without creating a sense of victimization.

For many people the element of caution becomes the primary factor in whether we choose to love.  We enter the state of loving as though we are making survival decisions in a new post-apocalyptic world, navigating around flesh eating zombies and desperate humans.  We want to avoid all of the risk that living, let alone connecting, fully requires and then when we are in the experience space we resist the natural urge to relax and let it all happen, because we are more concerned with being careful.

Why are we so careful?  Fear of judgment.  With all of the opinions waiting to be offered from personal circles and social media, many of us have placed heavy restrictions on how we are willing to be in love. We embrace the “I don’t need a man” mantra, not realizing that blanket statements push us into an environment of also not having.  Honestly, I don’t want to be with someone who endlessly proclaims, “You are unnecessary to me” (would you?).

The expectation of being judged for not being “independent enough”,  also stops us from admitting that we want to be lauded by our lovers…I need someone to clap for me.  Most of us don’t want to work in a paid eight hour environment where we feel unappreciated, how could we do little more than survive a personal life with someone who rarely demonstrated appreciation for who and what we are to them?

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We resist need so harshly that we reject those demonstrating need for us.  Have you ever heard someone ask, “Where has the romance gone?” while pushing away the guy who is “too nice” because he willingly admits the desire to have us present..I need you next to me.  Vulnerability and transparency has become so rare that we view those traits as clingy.

The Inherent nature of need

Healthy symbiosis is a characteristic of love at every stage—but, because we automatically view need, in reference to other people, as a negative thing we dismiss it’s value.   I think about the newness of love, the honeymoon stage, when sharing space becomes an identifier of how much your partner wants to be with you.  If you are separated for any significant amount of time, the question often asked is, “Do you miss me?” The answer is rarely “no” when the situation is positive.  I need you to miss me.  

The value of acknowledgment

There is benefit to accepting need within our relationships.   Some of the love matches that I admire most have a mutual balance of power and vulnerability.  The partners often seek each other out for direction without feeling as though they are being given directives.  For instance, when faced with a monumental career decision a friend’s husband told her, “you know I’m here for you and I support your decision.”  Three days of reflection without resolution led her to seek some direction (guidance) from him.  She told me that she plainly asked him, “What should I do?”  Being decisive is often aided by accepting or asking for direction from those you trust.  A mate that offers guidance, leadership and mentorship is appealing, not because I’m indecisive and flighty but because I know that he will seek and appreciate those traits in me, offering me a place of significance in his life.

I was the girl who said, ” I don’t need you, you should be happier that in fact I want you”, until I realized that the nature of love is balanced and enhanced by factoring in demonstrated need as much as it is in desire.  That is where I vow to live because the gift of that experience is greater than the risks.