I’ve been car shopping.  I’m surprised how similar the process is to finding a romantic partner. A “car guy” friend of mine has been helping me sort through the maze of cost to value options. One of the things he does is keep me focused on what I actually need a car for. Hmmmmm. I need it to haul grandchildren. I need it to take me up mountains and into remote desert areas. I need it big enough to sleep in when I’m in those remote areas. What I don’t need is a fixer-upper project that will cost me time and money.

Needs and Love

As I consider my needs in a car, I started thinking about how finding love could, and probably should, start with the same premise. What are my needs in a partner? What do I want my life to feel like, to be like, with someone in it? The answer to that certainly isn’t neglectful, or abusive, or confining. It’s more like happy, and comforting…that soft place to land. I can’t afford to compromise on those important needs. They are too important.

There’s a difference between basic needs and things that  would be nice to have. I may not need a fancy stereo in my new car but I’d at least like a radio. I don’t need fancy rims, but I want good tires. I need to know the difference between my needs and my wants in a relationship, too. Needs can’t be compromised. Wants are nice but not imperative.

Is Falling Into Love the Best Way?

Many times people just “fall” into a relationship and hope it works out. It’s a relationship of some mutual convenience as in somebody’s lease was up and they moved in together. I could be given a car that doesn’t have everything I need, but heck, it’s free. It fills a gap while I look for what I continue looking for what I really want. A relationship that starts that way can be good for a while, maybe even some number of years—until it isn’t anymore. We just can’t stay where important needs aren’t met, or we are required to give up important parts of self to be there. Then the difficult task of trying to fix it or get rid of it begins. We can try to fix it—for a very long time. Hopefully if it’s an important relationship that works. But what if it doesn’t? That’s the hard part.

If I were to buy a pickup truck, it would get me up into the mountains, likely into desert areas, but I couldn’t tote my grandchildren.  That means it is not the vehicle for me. It may work for a while, but later I would experience “buyer’s regret” and wish I’d stuck it out and found the vehicle that met all of my needs. It’s a lot easier to sell or ditch a car than it is a person.

What Are Your Needs?

I know a lot of people do it, but I’m not a fan of using a list of the traits to choose a “perfect” partner. Who the heck knows what a perfect partner is? But I do think it’s a good idea, and my car buying metaphor confirms this 🙂 to know our basic needs in a relationship. But how? One way is to review past relationships. What worked? What didn’t? What needs weren’t being met when a relationship ended? That’s the list you want to have in your head when you’re out there “shopping” in the dating world. I have a very fun little exercise that will help you with that. Let me know if you’d like to play with it.

No Fixer-uppers

Some of my own needs include kindness, mutual fun/interests, respect, helpfulness, independence/space, calm, clean, and organized, not necessarily in that order. I don’t need a fixer-upper. I was once with someone who met several of those needs but when I needed my space, whether in the house or to head to the desert, it caused problems. We were not a fit. One of the things I want in a car is that it just runs. It’s happy when I put gas in it and glad to take me on my adventures. It doesn’t need a lot of maintenance—now that’s telling isn’t it?