Want to Need to Want You: An Essay on Love as a Need

February 14 encroaches with its thundering storm of love and lust and capitalism and shared venereal diseases. But I will be indisposed over the President’s Day holiday, which comes directly on the heels of VD Day. (That’s VD for Venereal Diseases for those in the know.) (Welcome to The Know.) So I’m gonna talk about L.O.V.E. today.

I don’t mean love in the way someone says:

  • OMG I just LOVE those heels, girl! You must tell me where you got them! Hashtag YOLO!
  • Dude, this chicken is divine. I would totally LOVE it if you’d left out the cream cheese.
  • I LOVE Bonobo. Like totally LOVE Bonobo. The music gets me high.

No. I’m talking about Love as in Eros. Merriam-Webster defines Eros as such:

  1. The sum of life-preserving instincts that are manifested as impulses to gratify basic needs (as sex), as sublimated impulses motivated by the same needs, and as impulses to protect and preserve the body and mind – called also life instinct.
  2. Love conceived by Plato as a fundamental creative impulse having a sensual element; erotic love or desire.

I also consider the nature of love is more than emotional/sensual “feelings.” Love is a verb, meaning it requires attentive action toward your partner. And despite what many believe, it does require effort. If you’re not willing to put forth any effort in your relationship, then can you truly call it love? I think not.

(P.S. The concept of Eros deserves a post all its own. Psychology fascinates me, and Eros is no exception. If you’re into psychology or the inner workings of humans, I suggest digging in.)

Note that I placed emphasis on certain words in those definitions. Chiefly need(s). For that, my dears, is what I’d like to discuss today: Love as Need. How Wanting your Lover becomes Needing your Lover.

Some people believe that love (and desire and lust and passion and psychic/soul connections and all that goes with it) forever remains in the realm of want. I disagree. Strongly.

Love in an adult relationship between two unrelated, attracted adults, certainly begins as want. (I’m not going into polyamory. I’m discussing this from the perspective of a monogamous coupling.) But as it progresses, if in fact it progresses from strong connections and compatibility to a mutual desire to become long-term partners, your love for one another should certainly still be a wanting. But I will argue that it also becomes a need. And I don’t mean need in the way some perceive it as this negatively connoted cloying, whiny neediness. I mean need in the way that you finally reach the stage where your want becomes so strong that you need your partner to fulfill your wants and needs.

Most people who give the concept of need serious attention and thought, only go so far as to consider the physiological needs of humans (and mammals in general): air, water, food, shelter. While these are critical for survival and must be met first, human complexities include more than just physiological needs. These may be the only ones necessary for survival, but we need more than that to be fulfilled and live lives worth living.

Countless studies have shown the importance of interpersonal relationships, communities, families, intimacy. Consider infants. One simply cannot dismiss their need for love. I could cite study after study on the nature of childhood development and the effects of love upon said development. Parental affection is critical for most infants to become well-rounded, healthy members of society as we know it. Children who are deprived of love are wont to develop such afflictions as social anxieties and depression. They often have difficulties relating to other human beings in acceptable ways and develop issues with trust and self-worth. These are proven facts. Children need love. Parents who provide for the physiological needs of their offspring but withhold love and affection are psychologically damaging their children.

We, as humans, simply require more than our physiological needs met.

Consider Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs

MaslowsHierarchyOfNeeds

In order, he places physiological needs as the foundation of human needs, which of course is inarguable. Once those needs are met, we move into safety needs (adequate shelter and clothing to protect one from the elements and predation). But take a look at what he places next:

Love and Belonging. Here, Maslow argues (and I adhere to this psychology) that friendship, intimacy and family are requisite for social and emotional stability. Otherwise, as previously discussed, we are neglected and ostracized, which typically develops into severe depression and other psychological problems.

Now let me place this into the context of a long-term monogamous relationship.

Real Life Shit

I do believe in soulmates. I do not, however, ascribe to the notion that there is only one person in all humankind that can fulfill your own personal needs of love. There are billions of people on this earth, and while we will never meet even the tiniest fraction of those billions, rest assured there are many people out there who are capable of fulfilling your love needs.

But while in a monogamous relationship, the person with whom you shared a mutual attraction and wanted to become your lover…that person is the one whom you’ve chosen to fulfill your needs. I do not argue this in a toxic way. I do not argue this as a way to say, “Well, I fucking need you, so you have to put up with whatever I do to you. However I treat you. I don’t have to do a fucking thing to actively love you, but you have to stay because I need you.”

No. That’s bullshit. And anyone who argues such doesn’t understand the responsibilities inherent to love and interpersonal relationships. Failure to acknowledge those leads to neglect and psychological abuse, which in turn may lead to feelings of ostracism and depression. That is not love. And if your relationship ever reflects such neglect, then your partner is no longer fulfilling your needs. And now you must decide whether you want another to fulfill those needs.

So if I say, “I need you,” I am declaring to you that I’ve chosen you to fulfill my personal needs.

I want to
Need to
Want you

And that will remain true so long as we want to fulfill each others’ needs and actively demonstrate our love.

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62 thoughts on “Want to Need to Want You: An Essay on Love as a Need

      1. I think that it is normal in a long term relationship for one to need one more than the other at different times. If it is unequal it doesn’t work but if it goes back and forth, it keeps it interesting. I used Maslow’s heirarchy as the basis for my thesis and got a B+…not happy!

        Liked by 1 person

  1. Well that was interesting.
    I agree here and there and here and there and here and there, but I have other opinions there and here. Your perception is keen and your outlook on Eros is healthy (in my opinion.)

    FOR THE LOVE OF PUPPIES JUST TRY THE CHICKEN WITH THE CREAM CHEESE!

    Also want and need and want led me to Cheap Trick…

    Liked by 3 people

    1. You’re awesome, Joey – thank you! I’m definitely expecting some kickback on this one. But I felt compelled to write on it!

      Hehehe….I may yet try the chicken with cream cheese. 😉

      Cheap Trick! I LOVE THAT SONG. This post TOTALLY needed that song!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Bloody hell, that was a bit deep for a Friday evening! Seriously though, great post and totally agree. I think it develops into a mutual respect and desire to nurture one another, almost like you would a child. I don’t mean that in a patronising ‘you’re a baby’ kind of way, more an instinct that I want to protect, care for, entertain and enjoy this person. And I guess it also requires wiping snotty noses and clearing up their shizzle in unfortunate cases!!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Yup. Great post. I agree. Love is fucking hard work. However, in my experience, just “loving” someone is not enough to make you “right” for one another.

    I love my husband, and he loves me, but we don’t seem able to make each other happy. We aren’t meeting some needs in each other, clearly. So we are currently “consciously uncoupling” – I think it will be best for all of us. Hard though. I’m hoping we can be best friends, and that he can find someone who truly fulfils his needs. He’s a good man 😊

    Liked by 2 people

  4. I’m a hopeless romantic that will love anyone who let’s me. But I really appreciate the amount of thought you out into this, Steph. It was brilliant and fun to read. I agree with your assessment too!
    So while I’m not an expert on the subject, I’ll tell you I’m definitely in love with what’s filling the space between your ears.
    😉 have a great evening!!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I didn’t say there aren’t exceptions. I didn’t say that every person on earth fits into a single mold.

      What I did say is that I ascribe to those views and that it makes perfect sense to me and countless others.

      There are always exceptions. And some of our higher needs, self-actualization for instance, are never met. And for people like me, it causes no end of soul-searching and questioning.

      Love, for me, and so many others, is a necessity.

      Without it, there is untold suffering. Which I clearly articulated.

      Yes, people SURVIVE without it. Is that how you want to live? In perpetual survival mode?

      Liked by 2 people

      1. The people incapable of of even wanting those things often do quite well in life for things that matter to them. They might be happier than those of us who at least want those things.
        But if you view it that way for you, more power to you.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. As I said, there are exceptions to any and every rule or hypothesis or theory. I’m talking about the norm here.

        Humor me. Tell me that children don’t need love from their parents to develop into well-rounded people. Explain to me how neglected children are happier than those who had loving parents or loving familial environments.

        Liked by 2 people

      3. Well-rounded? No, stable? Many are. Who are we to judge what is healthiest when they are happy people? Just because it is lacking things that would make US happy, doesn’t mean that they can’t be happy with the material things and other things they actually do care about.

        Liked by 1 person

      4. Then you evaded my question. I said to explain to me how unloved children develop into WELL-ROUNDED adults. And you said psychopaths as your answer.

        I’m not talking about happiness here. I’m talking about the basic human needs that we require to be fulfilled in order to be fully healthy, well-rounded adults with healthy psyches. In the NORM.

        Liked by 1 person

      5. Whose norm? For that matter…Who’s Norm? (Cheers?) My point is that many psychopaths live happy (to them) healthy lives and are quite successful. They simply have no desire for what you and many psychiatrists call “needs”, yet live happy lives. Successful ones, even. If one can live happily (not just survive, as you said) without something, that would automatically make that thing a want.

        Liked by 1 person

      6. Point me toward the research that shows people along the bell curve – NOT outliers – are able to live well-rounded, fully healthy physical and psychological lives in a complete vacuum of love.

        Cite. Your. Source.

        Liked by 1 person

      7. Again, there is no research for it because the entire definition of what is deemed psychologically healthy is inaccurate as it is derived from the judgment of health of the very norm you mention. However, as we all know, healthy in a sick society is not healthy. Our judgment of what is healthy is going to be through our eyes. Who is to say that is actually healthy? So not only do I not have the research, I simply do not hold to your idea that we are defining the norm. Defining need to make it comply with what the majority of people think is a need does not a need make. If it isn’t necessary, it can’t be a need. It is a want.

        Like

  5. Here is what I know: What love is, and what love is not can be debated for centuries (and has been, obviously), but when it comes to relationships, it is vital that the people *within* the relationship come to a mutual understanding of (1) what love means, and (2) what they expect from love {or, more succinctly, from their Loved One}.

    When you don’t have (1) and (2), or if/when one person’s definitions/expectations change within the relationship and leave the other going “Whaaa…?”, all you have at the end is the burned out ashes of a heart that was once on fire.

    I am extremely careful with my ‘I love you’s. I almost NEVER say it first, not even in platonic relationships, and when someone says it to me, my first response (keep in mind that a response is different than a reaction) is typically, “What does that mean?” It is a question that leaves people bewildered, but if your “I love you” means “You give me the kind of attention that I like” and my “I love you” means all of these things {https://mrsfever.wordpress.com/2015/11/07/love-and-other-incurable-diseases/} and more, then we have A LOT of work ahead, and it’s unlikely we’ll end up on the same page in the end because we aren’t even reading from the same book.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Hmmm…quite a take! To throw some science in the mix….Love, physiologically speaking, is merely a cascading of a dozen or so chemical reactions in the brain that is pushing us for what?….Ultimately…procreation. The sweating, the rapid heart beat, the butterflies….

    A coupling of two human beings, pushed together by the Serendipity of Nature to create offspring. Whether they are capable of reproduction or not.

    Unfortunately, over time, these tides of chemicals die down and we (partners, spouses, lovers, etc) get into the “groove” of Real Life. And then, the Work of Love begins. The Work is required to overcome the loss of our own genetically produced Cocaine flow of chemicals and hormones. Sometimes we can overcome this challenge, sometimes we can’t.

    However…

    As a Hopeless Romantic, I cannot ignore the Spiritual aspect of Love. It is hard to believe that its all Chemical given various pieces of evidence. The Elderly couple, married for 50+ years, one dies within hours of the other. The Wife who Senses something is wrong when her husband is involved in a fatal accident a hundred miles away. The couple who, without fail, can finish each others’ sentences.

    Is Love At First Sight….a Genetic predestiny or a Soul-to-Soul connection?

    And of course, in the Digital Age….what about the ability to fall, head over heels….in a chat room, playing a game, shooting the breeze? Where on Earth, does that fit in?

    I offer these thoughts up to you and your readers, not as a cold hearted scientist, but Truly…as a curious Human Being 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Interesting, Andrew. Right away, I notice a particularly egregious claim regarding the nature of science. It would seem you’re in the camp that only the “Hard” sciences are “real science.” And the “soft” sciences are somehow less than.

      Yes, physiologically speaking, there are chemical reactions involved. But isn’t that the case with any “science”? You could just as easily dismiss breathing, forests, butterflies and sweat as physiological reactions to a specified catalyst.

      And yes, just as love shifts and changes and grows and ofttimes diminishes, so does breathing, eyesight, posture, etc. I say all of this to ensure that you aren’t dismissing the validity of love as a true human behavior/reaction/need.

      I’m a hopeless romantic myself, and yes there is a significant spiritual aspect involved. Love is more than chemical reactions. It involves work and will and spiritual connections.

      I do not believe in love at first “sight.” I do, however, believe in love at first connection. Or sensing a kindred spirit through a simple brush against the shoulder or a comment on a blog or in a chat room.

      This world is comprised of far more than is tangible, visible or even, as yet, measurable.

      From one curious Human Being to Another.

      Like

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