Tag Archives: Abraham Maslow

Want and Need

Psychologist Abraham Maslow introduced the idea that there are five needs everyone tries to fulfill over a lifetime. They are known as Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs.

The first two needs are people’s most basic needs…the need for survival:
1) Physiological (i.e., breath, food, water, sleep)
2) Safety (i.e., security, shelter, employment).

The next two are social needs that deal with interactions with others:
3) Love/Belonging (i.e., love, family, friendship, intimacy)
4) Esteem (i.e., self-esteem, respect, mastery, recognition)

The last need is related to one’s purpose and legacy in life:
5) Self Actualization (i.e., realizing the full potential of one’s purpose)

Maslow’s theory says that after you satisfy one need (e.g., #2 need for security and shelter), you move on to fulfill the next need (e.g., #3 need for love and intimacy). Some argue, however, that you don’t have to strictly follow the sequential order Maslow outlined. One study showed that people may fulfill needs #3 and #5, without fulfilling #2 (see Tay & Deiner, 2011).

Being needed vs. being wanted is not binary.

It’s Better to Be Needed If…
For some, it’s better to give than to receive; if you thrive on helping someone fulfill their needs; if you prefer to use your resources (time, financial, material, informational, and emotional) to help other people, you probably need to be needed. Yes, there’s something gratifying about helping someone in need. You take pride in doing it. It makes you feel good. In fact, some people need to feel needed.

It’s Better to Be Wanted If…
If you are drawn to someone who doesn’t need you or your resources to satisfy their needs; if you have a strong desire to be loved, cared for, to feel a since of belonging and acceptance with someone who doesn’t have ulterior motives…then it’s likely that you want to be wanted. Being wanted suggests you have a strong need to be accepted for who you are…not for what you have or what you can provide. For you, there is something freeing about being able to be accepted…flaws, weaknesses, insecurities and all…without conditions. You long for a safe place where you don’t have to be who the world sees you as. You can just ‘be’…and be accepted.

So which is better for you? It’s important to know that there’s no good or bad option. Neither is better than the other. In fact, it’s okay to want to feel both wanted and needed. That’s the best of both worlds. There’s nothing wrong with needing your significant other to pick up some medicine for you at CVS when you’re stuck in bed with a cold, or needing tech support with work on your computer. Needing a little help here and there is a perfectly normal part of being human. But if you feel you truly need someone in your life to provide you with confidence or happiness, that might be a sign of potential codependency.

We can have people who we need, people that we want, and the overlap of both. We often see neediness as a negative thing in life. I need to breathe, eat, sleep, and have genuine caring. Those are not negative things.

Yesterday was a tough and scary day for many of us. The friends and community I had ever wanted were chatting, connecting, sharing. It was a little surreal. My head couldn’t grasp it, but some corner of my heart did. Love, want, and need. Shifting and vital.

Embolden Psychology

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Combined with psychoeducational testing, it helps provide comprehensive information and recommendations to help children and teens six and up.

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