The idea of love & belonging goes naturally with any discussion of compatibility, doesn’t it? After all, isn’t that why couples become couples: to satisfy their need for love & belonging?
However, in choice theory, the strength of the love & belonging need is not defined as how much love & belonging we would like to receive, but rather, how much we are prepared to give. That’s a different kettle of fish, isn’t it?
If you feel that you’re not getting enough love & belonging from your partner, here’s a heads-up from Dr. Glasser: “Most of us would like more love than is usually available…But no matter how much we want, we have to learn that we can’t get any more than our partner is able to give.”
This article is one in a series You can find the first article in the series here.
As with our other basic needs, choice theory suggests that the strength of our love & belonging need is genetic. Whether it’s a high level or a low level, how much love & belonging we can give is part of who we are. We don’t have much control over it.
That might sound disheartening, but there’s good news, too. Dr. Glasser goes on to point out that even if your partner has a relatively low level of love & belonging to offer, that’s seldom the problem. Often, the issue isn’t that a partner can’t give enough love, but that one or both are deliberately holding back love.
Why would anyone hold back love? While it’s possible that holding back is a result of indifference, it might also be done as punishment.
Take Betsy and Austin, for example. Betsy has a high level of love & belonging to offer; however, Austin knows that Betsy is holding back. She used to be so much more loving and caring before they married; now she treats him as if she doesn’t love him at all!
Betsy’s perception is that Austin tries to tell her how to do everything, from the trivial, like where she should shop, to the important, such as how to handle her mother. Whatever the issue, Austin has an opinion!
Betsy knows that Austin wants more love than she is now offering. However, although Betsy won’t say it, she demonstrates her response every day: “I won’t give you the love I know you need because I’m angry about how you try to control me.”
What’s the result? Austin feels hurt and rejected by Betsy’s uncaring actions, and might respond by accusing her of not loving him. Betsy feels irritated and undervalued by Austin’s controlling actions, and might respond by accusing him of not respecting her.
Holding back love until you feel that your partner is acting appropriately leads to a vicious (and unloving) circle, doesn’t it?
If you feel that your partner is holding back love, what actions might be more effective? Perhaps the best chance at getting all the love that your partner is capable of giving is to give him/her as much as you can! Is that worth a try?
Do you think that using the choice theory approach of not controlling each other can result in compatibility, regardless of need strengths?