Human Needs and the Romantic Relationship
In life, there is no more fulfilling relationship than that one with our intimate partner, right? How did you answer that question? Was it emphatically, “YES”! Or was your answer more like, “yeah, fulfilling my dream to live painfully empty and wishing I were alone”!?!? Or perhaps you are somewhere in between… Well you’re not alone and the better news is, you can turn things around in a SNAP!!Think about it, whether you are madly in love in a moment or irked beyond belief, the underlying common factor is PASSION! In the study of human needs psychology, we know that there are six needs that everyone must meet to feel complete:
We All Have Six Basic Human Needs
Human Needs Psychology tells us that we all have the need for:
- Love/connection – everyone needs connection with others and every one strives for and hopes for love. As babies, we have the need to be loved and cared for during our youth if we are to develop normally. Babies that receive no human touch or human love would die. The need for love, of course, continues throughout our lives. It is epitomized by the concept of romantic love; the one person who will devote their life to us and us to them and will make us feel complete. Some people rarely experience love, but they have many ways of feeling connection with themselves and others, whether it be through depression, in the community or in the workplace. Yes, the need for love can be met in both positive and negative ways. The need to be loved is characteristic of all human beings. Sometimes people will use different words for love such as togetherness, passion, or united. Connection can also be conveyed with words such as warmth, tenderness, desire. The person using depression to gain love or connection does so through the use of anger and the feeling of helplessness. We will discuss this further later.
- Significance – every person needs to feel important, needed, and wanted. Our personal significance comes from comparing ourselves to others, what our blueprint is of the world, and where in the great scheme of things we feel like we fit. In our quest for significance, we are always involved in questions of superiority and inferiority. We can feel significant because we have achieved something, built something, succeeded at something, or we can seek significance by tearing down somebody or something. In its positive aspect, significance leads us to raise our standards. But if we are overly focused on significance, we will have trouble truly connecting with others – comparisons focus on differences rather than commonalities. For some, significance comes from providing for the family; for others, from doing meaningful work; some need to make a major contribution to the community; some require considerable wealth. Some people achieve a sense of significance by failure, by being the worst at something, or by having low self-esteem and even being depressed. People also fill their need for significance by turning to crime-how significant is a man in your face waving a gun? Pretty significant, right? Whatever the measure of significance, a sense of being important and needed is necessary to all human beings. Words used in place of significance would be pride, importance, standards, achievement, performance, perfection, evaluation, discipline, competition, respect, and fear of rejection.
- Certainty – we want to feel safe, avoid pain, and feel comfortable in our environment and our relationships. Every individual needs to have some sense of certainty and security – a roof over one’s head, knowing where the next meal will come from, knowing how to obtain care when one is sick, and knowing that a neighbor won’t attack us. We also need to know that certain people or things in our life will always be there, no matter what. Everyone needs certainty but the degree to which certainty is needed or desired varies from person to person. The overwhelming need for certainty can be destructive to a person’s life. If they have such a strong need for certainty, it could lead to them never leaving their house, never allowing anyone to visit their home, and even cutting off phone, email, or written communication. Even though some certainty is necessary to all of us, what constitutes certainty varies from one person to another. Other words commonly used to describe certainty are comfort, security, safety, stability, feeling grounded, predictability, and protection.
- Uncertainty/variety – we have a need for variety and challenges that exercise our emotional and physical range. Everyone needs some variety-our bodies, our minds, our emotional well-being- all require uncertainty, exercise, suspense, and surprise. We all like surprises, right? We like the surprises we want!! There is a wonderful quote by Tony Robbins that I have adopted, and it is: “The quality of your life is in direct proportion to the amount of uncertainty you can comfortably live with.” I absolutely love this statement, and will continue to repeat it probably for the rest of my life. Other words used to describe uncertainty or variety are fear, thrills, instability, change, entertainment, suspense, exertion, surprise, conflict, and crisis.
- Growth – when we stop growing, we die. We need to constantly develop emotionally, intellectually, financially, and spiritually. We grow and change physically as we develop from infancy to adulthood and into old age, just as we grow and change emotionally with every experience, and we grow intellectually as we take in circumstances and events in our lives and those of the people in our world. We grow financially through not only earning more hopefully, but also through learning about investing and saving for our retirement and our children’s education, etc. Everything we love or want to stay a part of our lives needs nurturing, from our children to our siblings to our parents to our co-workers and people involved in a charity with us. Some people satisfy the need to grow by working out physically or by reading a book, others need to study and learn constantly in order to feel that they are truly growing. Other words for growth are developing, learning, self-improvement, studying, and understanding.
- Contribution – to go beyond our own needs and to give to others. To give beyond oneself. One’s life is incomplete without the sense that we are making a contribution to others or to a cause or to the world. It is the nature of human beings to want to give back; to leave a mark on the world. Giving to others may mean giving time to community service, making a charitable donation, planting trees, or giving to one’s children. Not only can everyone contribute in some way, but contribution is essential to a sense of fulfillment and happiness. One of the greatest and most heart-felt ways to contribute is through compassion. Compassion is not simply feeling empathy for people in a certain situation; for instance people involved in a tsunami or the families affected by the events of 9/11, but wanting and NEEDING to help in some way, even if it is saying prayers or donating blood or sitting with survivors and just listening. Other words for contributions are giving, sharing, helping, supporting, guiding, teaching, and making a difference.
Where Do You Rate
Now go back and score each need on a scale from 1-10 based on your valuation of that need in your life today. Based on these six human needs, which two are your top two needs? How do you like these needs to be met? Have you shared this with your partner? The first four needs must be met for survival; the last two are the needs of the spirit. They are the needs that make us feel complete.
Are Your Needs Being Met?
When something or someone meets more than one of your needs at a high level, you become attached to that something or someone. If it meets three or more needs at a five or higher, you will NOT give up that something or someone. This is the goal for every romantic relationship-that we meet each other’s needs so highly and consistently that they would NEVER think of leaving or having an affair. Unfortunately, when the relationship becomes strained, it is very common for one partner to “restrict” the other partners’ time or resources spent on their interests. Thinking things like, “well, we will just take away his poker night, and see how he likes that”, or “well, she isn’t going to be in that organization anymore, and we will see how she responds to that”, or “being in the band makes you feel like a god….you are only allowed to play with your band two times per month”…these would all constitute restrictions or barters used in strained relationships.