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Loving Rather Than Needing

Love and need

When we say we love someone, we may believe that we need them in order to be happy which is not necessarily true. We can go on to be fine when we lose someone we love because loving and needing are not the same animal. 

In my view, love develops into mutual caring and allows two people to value each other for being their authentic selves, while need pressures people to be a certain way and not change. Love flows outward toward others, while need pulls others toward us (whether they want to move toward us or not). Love is other-oriented and generous while a need is restrictive and deprivation. When we confuse need and love, we’re usually seeking someone to complete us in a way we may or may not be conscious of. Let’s say . . .

  • We’re painfully shy and socially awkward and find someone who’s gregarious and appears at home wherever they are and whoever they’re with. Socially, they’re everything we’re not.
  • We’re insecure and uncertain about doing the right thing and wrong and find someone who’s sure of themselves and seems to always know the right answer and what to do. When we’re with them, our insecurity dissolves and we feel protected and safe, sure that life will turn out well for us.
  • We have low self-esteem and feel unworthy of life’s pleasures and find someone who has a huge appetite for them. We feel deserving of and get to enjoy these pleasures simply by being with them without ever really believing that we deserve to enjoy them on our own.
  • We don’t feel special or unique and find someone who not only thinks they’re special, but other people view them as exceptional as well. Simply by being around them, our specialness seems elevated, as if their gifts are our gifts, their beauty erases our ugliness, and their glow is our glow.

Although we’re programmed through evolution to seek partners who are in many ways our opposite, it’s crucial that we each feel emotionally complete. Admiring your partner’s extroversion, talents, and self-assuredness and trying to be more like them is healthy. Needing someone because you are emotionally undeveloped is not. What happens when they give up or lose what you need most in them? When they no longer want to be restricted by who they’ve been and wish to move in a different direction? When you love someone, you value and support their growth. When you need them, you fear it. For your own mental health, when you’re considering a partner, shoot for love, not need.



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