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By: Mozelle Forman, Lcsw

Every one of us humans has basic fundamental needs. Some we can fulfill on our own and some require the help of others. When we’re able to meet our own needs we feel confident and competent. On the other hand, whenwe need to depend upon someone else to fulfill them we become vulnerable as anyone who has seen or been
an infant can attest.

Of all mammals, human babies are born the most needy and vulnerable, completely dependent on their parents for physical and emotional survival. It takes us at least one year to accomplish the survival skills most mammals master within a few days – namely mobility, feeding ourselves, and most importantly, communicating ourneeds. Hashem created us this way in order to foster loving relationships between parents and children. While infants don’t communicate their needs clearly, they get fed or held, or changed sometimes even before they fuss or cry because caregivers do their best to anticipate and interpret their needs. Parents, especially moms, can intuit what their children need and will act to fulfill those needs even before they are asked.

Based upon our very first relationship experiences, our psyches have created the following equation:
need = helpless + dependent.

This psychological phenomenonfollows us into our adult relationships. We more or less expect our partners to have the same instinctual radar that our parents had; we expect that they will fulfill our needs even before we express them. “Of course they should know what we need,” we convince ourselves. “If he or she really loved me, they would know.” Of course, this is an unfair assumption. It’s an interesting dichotomy we wrestle with, though. Even as we expect our needs to be met by those who know us best, we strugglewith the idea of being made vulnerable by them. Above all else, we don’t want to appear “needy,” a word that connotes weakness and dependence.

Asking for something we need takes courage, to be sure, because it exposes our vulnerability. Yet expressing need within a relationship allows us to form a deeper connection with others. By offering and accepting help, we create creates intimacy –
the opportunity to love one another by giving.

Having the ability to do something one one’s own yet having no qualms about asking someone else to do it for him is the essence of healthy need. Knowing that we could be
self-sufficient but, at times, choose not to be, allows us to accept the help of others without feeling irrationally dependent upon them. Allowing someone to care for us can elicit a warm closeness for both the receiver and the giver – and there is nothing more precious than that.

Mozelle Forman is a clinical social worker in private practice for 20 years.
She welcomes your comments at