The distance between want and need

Last night I was texting with someone and I meant to write “I know the difference between want and need,” and my phone auto-corrected it to say “I know the distance between want and need.”

I corrected the typo and carried on with the conversation, but the phrase “the distance between want and need,” kind of stuck with me.

Because there is a difference between the two and I’m very well aware of it. Like so many wordy people, I pay close attention to diction.  Word choice.  I try to use the words that most correctly describe what I mean, and I sometimes forget that not everybody does that.

I used to describe myself as “needy,” and have since stopped using that qualifier, because I’m not needy. I’m very “wanty.”

When I don’t get what I want it hurts.  I might pout. I might even cry.  But I’ll survive. I’ll move forward. I’ll forgive.

But if I tell you I need something and you don’t deliver, we’re having problems. My ex pointed this out to me somewhat recently.  I’m trying to remember if I’ve already written about this, and if I have and this is redudnant, I apologize.  It’s been on my mind since he pointed it out.

See, I told someone I needed validation.  And they mistakenly thought I meant “want.”

And they didn’t give it to me.

It’s an easy mistake to make.  I’m a submissive-minded woman whose gone a very, very long time not getting exactly what she *wants*.  I crave validation all the time. I want endless gallons of validation poured all over me.

I was going to go with the alcoholic analogy, but it’s more like the binge-eater analogy instead. Both are an addiction – but one is an addiction where the best and safest method to overcome it is to cut it completely out of your life.  The other requires building a healthy relationship with your substance of choice because one still requires food to survive, just not quite *as much* food as one might find themselves wanting to eat.

This past year – and more specifically the last six months or so – have been a concerted effort in my learning to establish a healthy relationship with validation.  To find its place in that space that exists between “want” and “need.”

It’s not exactly a static distance either.  It’s not like need is always in one place and want moves back and forth.  It’s more like two sailboats tethered with a long line.  (I love analogies).  Neither is quite anchored, and neither is ever too far from the other.  The current will sometimes bring them so close together they collide. Sometimes one will tow the other.  And sometimes there’s just a bit of slack in the line as the drift in unison along the rolling waves.

Regardless, the line is secured on both ends and I generally have a good sense when I’m swimming between the two, which boat is closest.

If use the word want, then stand on the bow and keep an eye on me.  I still have the strength to swim.  If I use the word need, it’s time to throw in the life preserver, or better yet – jump in and help me find my way back aboard.