We all possess to some degree the need to be needed by others. In a sense, it offers us personal value. This need can manifest in a variety of benevolent and malevolent ways. I will focus only on the malevolent manner of fulfilling the need through seemingly altruistic modes of service and gifts. Indeed, serving and gifting to others can be an ill when the focus for performance is self-focused.
Ever attempt to do something or give something for someone believing you are doing something good and helpful, and yet your offers are met with rejection? Chances are that the issue isn’t the ingratitude of the recipient, but the motive of the giver. At first the recipient may comply out of courtesy, but eventually the truth for the unsolicited offering will be exposed. Instead of a help, the gift or act of service becomes a burden because he/she recognizes that the giver’s sense of self-worth rests in the action offered. This responsibility is forced upon an individual to whom it doesn’t belong. In other words, I, as the recipient, cannot truly instill in you your sense of worth through the accepting or rejecting your unsolicited act of service or gift to me. I recognize that if I accept I am doing so only out of obligation because if I choose otherwise then I must witness the perceived rejection of you as a person not just the object. An object should never define a person’s worth. A person has innate value based solely on who he or she is personally. By choosing to always accept the gifts or services, then I am simultaneously, and unnecessarily, also accepting the responsibility to offer you personal definition. There is more to a sense of self then this, and another person ought not be the source.
I have experience both sides to this situation. I have been placed in the position to always accept and therefore always define, as well as the one seeking value through being needed. Both avenues are crippling because, again, a person’s worth must be derived elsewhere from a meaningful place. When I’ve sought personal meaning from friendships, I lost friends. When I strove to do everything for my husband early in our marriage to feel needed, I exhausted myself and grew in my frustrated that this need of mine was still not met. On the converse, when I’ve been given the responsibility to fulfill another’s need for being needed, and in turn create a sense of self, I’ve felt a sense desiring to pull away and not be placed with a responsibility I’m not capable of holding. In all situations, the pattern is clear that no matter the altruistic action of giving or serving another the result is repeatedly a broken relationship.