27 August 2007

More On Needs In A Relationship


In a previous post, I talked about Emotional Needs in a Relationship.
But what is a need? How do you distinguish that from a "want" or even a "like-to-have"?

It's all really subjective. Technically, all you "need" is food and physical protection from the elements.

But we all want more. In fact we need more to reach higher levels of fulfillment in our lives. A useful model for understanding needs is Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs. It is usually pictured as a triangle. The bottom to top of the triangle is ordered starting with physical needs, and moving through , societal, emotional, and to "self-actualization."

The idea is that in order to reach the next higher level, you must first achieve the needs of your current level.

Anything beyond the physiological and Safety needs are not technically needs, in the sense of "you will die if you do not receive these." They are really wants and expectations--like-to-haves or want-to-haves.

So lets rearrange the emotional needs from a previous post and see if putting them on Maslow's Hierarchy makes any sense. Before going any further, position of the need on the hierarchy is not an indicator of the importance of the need to a person. Those are individual.
Clearly Financial Support is a primal need. Without that, survival may be at stake.

I put Domestic support into the Safety category, because of things like the importance of cleanliness, etc. I also put Financial Support into Safety because money is required for shelter, clothing, etc. Domestic support can also be an enabler of Financial Support. If the at-home partner can keep clothes clean and ironed, it may help the financial supporter achieve more.

Note that I did not include Sexual Fulfillment in the Physiological Needs. Obviously sex is required for propagation of the genes/species, but it is not a survival need per se. From this perspoecative, Sexual Fulfillment does belong in the Love/Belonging bucket where it speaks of Sexual Intimacy.

I put Recreational companionship, Conversation, Affection, and Family Commitment into the Love/Belonging category, although arguably Family Commitment could also be in the Safety category.

Three needs make it into the esteem category: Honesty and Openness, Physical Attractiveness, and Admiration. I believe that Honesty and Openness is a sign of respect. Lack of respect from one's partner can hurt self-esteem. Receiving words of Admiration is also in this category.

Hearing positive things from someone that you love and whose opinion you respect is very powerful.

Finally, I wasn't sure quite where to put physical attractiveness. In the Needs post I expanded that a little to include overall attractiveness (going beyond the physical and into things like intelligence, and ability to have a conversation in a social setting). So I think for many people having an attractive spouse is a symbol to the world that they have somehow "won."

I'm not sure how healthy that is, but I think it falls into the esteem category.
So what we see is that most of the "Needs" are not needs at all, (Financial Support and possibly Domestic Support being the only exceptions) but are requirements in some way for us to reach the next level of emotional fulfillment.

In today's world, we mostly tend to focus on moving into the higher levels of the hierarchy. One hundred years ago, or even more recently, before we had a social safety net, people had to focus on phyical and security needs. How the world has changed.

Are you stuck at some level of Maslow's hierarchy? What is preventing you from moving to the next level?

On to Workaholics >>>>>


  1. Is there a book that this is based off, or no?

  2. There's no single reference. Maslow's hierarchy is well-known. I don't recall where I got the other information. I should have referenced it though. There are references in the previous post though. https://www.emotionsforengineers.com/2007/08/emotional-needs-in-relationship.html

    Best, e4e