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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