Catholic Transcript Magazine of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Hartford Connecticut

Saturday, June 23, 2018

After my daughter’s last romantic meltdown, she sat me down and wanted to have a discussion about her life. She gave it some serious thought and concluded, "It’s all because of you…"

What did I do wrong now? With four daughters and one wife, there’s a lot of blame for one guy to handle, and in our house, we live by the motto "guilty until proven guilty."

"Why is that?" I asked, realizing this was going to be a very long discussion, and that I might need my toothbrush.

Gosh, I hate that word. Admittedly, she couldn’t blame her mother, who is tough as nails and English and probably a direct descendant of Elizabeth, the Warrior Queen. On the other hand, I am, well, needy.

Rather than argue with her, I just bit my tongue and agreed, even though my first inclination was to tell her to stop dating losers.

Yes, we’re both needy, and I have to believe there are a lot of other people out there who need to be loved and need to love. It’s like one of those manufacturer’s defects, which means The Creator should have recalled our model because we don’t function well in a cold-hearted world.

"You have to develop a thick skin," I suggested, knowing she never will. Nor will any of my other friends who have been hurt in love and tossed aside.

A few days later, I was talking to a woman who, in a painful self-assessment, listed what she called her "defects," which consisted of "lots of question marks, being vulnerable and needy (I hate that word!)"

Was an epidemic of neediness sweeping the land? We live in a terribly exploitative world where people take advantage of other people for all sorts of insidious and selfish purposes – sexual, financial, professional and emotional. It’s a world where relationships are bought and sold like common stock on Wall Street and lovers are treated like commodities in a society that fosters recreational sex.

Think about it, though. Shouldn’t everybody need love and want to give love? It’s better to be someone who needs love than to be someone who profanes love and tears people apart emotionally like some lizard-skinned, razor-toothed Komodo dragon.

After many years, I’ve come to a new understanding: This longing to love and be loved, this "need," is part of the original design. We’re meant to be this way. It’s not a defect. God meant it to be this way. Our society is defective.

This wonderful need is something God intentionally put into the plans because it programs us for greater love. It’s not a flaw or a weakness, although it can be terribly painful in a self-centered society.

"No human heart is satisfied totally and completely with any love that it finds on Earth," Fulton Sheen said. "From the cradle to the grave, we are in search of an ecstasy that has no satiety and a love that has no ending. … The quest for love continues from the cradle to the grave." And it points toward God.

And so, all you needy people, as a friend of mine, who knew nothing about love until he got sober, often said, "If nobody told you today they love you, I do."

J.F. Pisani is a writer who lives with his family in the New Haven area.