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Issue #30: Desiring Belonging

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One of the weird and frustrating paradoxes of being human; we fear being truly deeply seen, yet we desire it more than anything.

We deeply desire to be fully seen, chosen and loved.

This sits so deep in our psyche – in our bones – as a human. It’s the very heart of belonging.

Knowing we belong with someone, in community, reinforces that we are safe and secure.

Security is at the very foundation of human survival.


While it starts with water, food, shelter, and physical safety, it also requires that our place in our people is secure.

That is belonging.

Think of the ‘Lone Wolf’ – we have glorified that as men for so long.


But in a tribe, a pack – the lone wolf has been cast out.


Immediately that threatens survival.

At best the Lone Wolf fights to survive. At beat.


At worst, he dies.



Being very current in my memes here. You’re welcome.

Belonging is integral to survival – and our deep sense of security.

When that need of belonging is threatened – or we have a perception that it is threatened or non-existent – we will forgo self-expression in attempt to attain belonging.

Forgoing self-expression looks like putting on a mask. Pretending to be a different, more palatable, curated version of yourself.

It means hiding who you truly are. Managing and manipulating how others perceive you. Abandoning your values, what you deem to be right or what is truthful for you in order to be liked by others; to seek their approval.

Anything that would seem to be belonging; approval, validation, acknowledgement, love, acceptance.

But true belonging starts with self – do you feel secure in who you are? Do you know that you are worthy of love and belonging regardless if someone chooses you or not? That your worth is inherent – every human is worthy of belonging.

Everyone has something to offer. But the moment we place our worth into the hands of others we start to lose ourselves. Because if we feel accepted or worthy of acceptance or not,  is no longer in our hands.

What this tends to say is, “If I don’t belong then I mustn’t be good enough as I am – so I must change who I am to fit in/belong”.

In partnership with this is the fear of allowing people to truly see us.


Because if they did – and my belief is true: that I’m not good enough – then they’ll see that, they’ll reject me and not choose me and I won’t belong.

So we spin in the loop of not allowing people to see us. Not fully.

All the while deeply, like in our bones-deep, needing to be seen for who we are. To know that we are loved and safe.


That our survival is secure.

Any belonging that comes, any acceptance or approval that we get as our curated and edited selves ISN’T ever going to land, it won’t stick, because it’s not US.

And that’s our dilemma in relationships.

We can’t keep our inner world closed off and our needs hidden from our partners and think that we’ll feel fully seen by them. Or loved and appreciated.

We can’t hold them at arm’s length and think they can fully love us.

That’s the sort of grey middle ground that so many nice Guys end up existing in.

“I want love but I don’t want my partner to fully see me in case they don’t love me. So I’ll keep some back and just hope that they can love me anyway.”

Here’s one of the biggest problems with that:


By definition that is rejecting part of yourself. You can’t reject yourself – parts of yourself – and hope someone will accept you.

To be truly loved, fully, and feel all the depth of that, you have to let someone fully love you. For that to happen you have to be in self-acceptance.

You have to love yourself – or to use a much less fluffy term: you have to like yourself, respect yourself, and allow all of yourself to be ok in the world – regardless of the potential judgements or reactions of others.

But the work isn’t to make it our partner’s job to meet every need or make it safe for us to let them in.


Nor is it to make them our therapist, by the way.

It’s your job to create a sense of security within yourself – to feel safe in yourself, in your skin so that you can allow them to see you and love you fully. The people around us add to it, but it can’t be their job.

It’s your job to communicate openly, honestly, and courageously as if we were one half of a partnership.

Learning to honour our needs and communicate openly and honestly can be a foreign language for many guys, but it’s a language we must learn if we want rich and fulfilling relationships.

🙋🏻‍♂️ Hi – if this stuff here resonates with you and triggers you into curiosity, then you might want to explore yourself AND relationships a bit further.


The BETTER PARTNER PROJECT is a four-week accelerator course for men in relationships – starting with the relationship with yourself.


You can see it here.

Otherwise, for those tyre-kickers of the deeper work with me and my team in ELA – we have some final spots open for the next intake of the Development Academy – you can apply (obligation-free) here right now.