Are You in Love Or in Need?

By Elyane Youssef on Tuesday May 9th, 2017

Fostering Healthy Love in Your Relationship

There’s a difference between being ‘in love’ and being ‘in need.’

We verbally claim our love for our partner and believe to feel this emotion deeply. However, when it comes down to discerning actions, we might be shocked to realize that we only need them.

I needed someone in the past, and truth be told, there was something missing in both me and in my life.

This person came along and was the perfect man to fill the holes in my life that I thought I so desperately needed to fill. Sadly, I confused my neediness for love. In fact, it wasn’t him I needed — it was what I needed from him. I now know what it feels like to feel need instead of love.

I freak out when I hear someone say “I need you.”

On the surface, it’s a harmless statement. But if we truly behold the deeper meaning behind it and contemplate the damage it does, we’d find it has nothing to do with genuine love. I choose to replace it with “I want you,” “I appreciate you,” or simply, “I love you.”

Want or needDo you WANT your partner’s love? Or do you NEED it?

It’s of utmost importance to tell the difference between neediness and love, or else we will pursue a relationship for the wrong reasons, which can end up hurting ourselves and the other person.

Love is not a business contract — it’s a state of being.

Love means enjoying the person and their presence. We let them be, and take into account their own personal needs.

This is how we ‘want’ another person. Their presence should be an additional joy or blessing in our lives. Nevertheless, when their presence becomes a must or an addiction, our love transforms to neediness. When we are in need, we don’t enjoy the person. Rather, we enjoy what we take from them.

Some people are in need, but oblivious to it. If we cast the light on this issue, we can work on eradicating it and consequently, can help our love flourish in a valuable way. Love is never black and white, but being aware of these signs may help you create a healthier and happier partnership in the long run.

1. Focusing on What You’re Receiving

When we constantly take instead of share, we are only focusing on what’s being brought to the table. We might have an unconscious physical, emotional, materialistic, or mental need we expect a partner to honor. Fights ensue when these expectations aren’t met.

Me, me, meDysfunction can occur when we are only focussed on what we are getting from our partner.

What to do: Wanting something means not minding if it’s not there. However, needing something means not being able to perpetuate love without it. We can alter our perspective and focus instead on what we’re sharing — and not on what we’re taking. There will always be an imbalance of give and take in love. So, the best way to stop needing that balance is by actually creating it. We create it by lowering our expectations and removing the focus off of our partner.

2. Blaming Them for Your Misery

In a needy relationship, our misery is blamed on our partner. We link it to not getting what we want. To put it differently, we constantly associate our negative emotions with our partner and claim they inflicted them on us.

What to do: True love doesn’t know blame. We must understand that our emotions and thoughts are in constant flux — and they’re not necessarily our partner’s fault. Even if it is the case, it is advisable to talk it through calmly and consciously, instead of furiously holding our partner accountable.

3. Being Attached to Their Presence

Getting used to someone is one thing and getting attached to them is another. Habit is normal and common. Nonetheless, attachment is the inability to live without our partner. When we are in need, we don’t tolerate their absence. This is why many couples abundantly suffer after breaking up — because of attachment.

How attached are you?Feeling ‘incomplete’ when you’re without your partner can be a sign of codependency.

What to do: Separation or distance is undoubtedly heart-wrenching, but it shouldn’t be poisonous. It’s advisable to learn how to be on our own even if our partner is absent. We can do so by focusing on ourselves and filling our free time with things we like to do.

4. Sense of Control

A major sign of a needy relationship is spotting signs of control. To pressure the other person into fitting the image we have of them isn’t love at all — that means we are only in love with the person we want them to be.

What to do: We should honor and respect our partner for who they are. We don’t need to change them. By all means, there will be compromises along the way, but both partners consciously agree on them. Whenever we feel the need to change or control, it’s valuable to remember we can’t change people. We can only appreciate them the way they are.

5. Feeling Empty Without Them

There is a thin line between missing our partner and feeling empty without them. To feel empty without another person is similar to being addicted to a drug — we don’t healthily operate when the drug isn’t there. Our happiness and comfort are always dependent on our partner. We wouldn’t happily miss them — we’d miserably miss them.

Practise being individuals togetherPractise seeing yourselves as individuals sharing your journeys together, rather than ‘one’.

What to do: When we truly love someone, we’d still feel complete without them. That said, we are not with them so they can complete us. Rather, we share our completeness together. In order to accomplish this completeness, we can practice seeing ourselves and our partner as individuals rather than one person.

6. Your Happiness Comes First

When we are in need, we continuously need to be happy, and in this state, it is difficult to consider the other person’s happiness too. This can generate selfishness and undesired issues in the relationship.

What to do: To truly love someone is to wish them happiness and opt to be part of making it happen. We must surely think of our happiness as well, but we shouldn’t forget our partner’s. Contemplate equality and reflect on how your partner aspires for happiness as much as you do.

The best method yet to stop us from being in need, is to be in love with ourselves first. When we fill our own gaps, our love for another person will be appropriately reliable. We won’t love them just to fill the missing space in our lives. Rather, we’ll love them for who they are and appreciate what they give themselves, and us. The relationship then becomes a place of sharing.

Thus love is heightened and unconditional.

Words By Elyane Youssef

Originally posted on




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19 Responses to Are You in Love Or in Need?

  1. This article is super amazing and thoughtful. A real eye open about love! My mind is brimming with love ideas! I am lucky enough to bump into this amazing article just 4 days before Valentine😊🌺

  2. This is a typical modern new age article. It starts off right but then it just becomes weird. The ‘need’ that it’s describing is actually true love (which it is ironically telling you to stay away from) and the love that it’s describing is actually nothing more than ‘kinda sorta liking’ the other person while absolutely being in love with yourself (aka narcissism).

  3. Love this! I separated after 20 years time 20 years ago. When I left, all I heard from him was, “come back, I need you!” All I could think back then was, boy, it sure would be nice to hear you want me rather than need me. Need is self serving, meaning the relationship is more one sided. Wanting someone takes the relationship into a whole other realm.

    • If one word or phrase difference is that big of a deal then you two may not have been that compatible, or have grown incompatible. Yes, I have my way of taking and using words that are different from how other people may perceive the same word or phrase when they use it, but in relationships we always talked it out if we didn’t understand each other.

      There are times we had to walk away or end things with reason partially being due to critical or hurtful words, but never due to any sweet, romantic sayings. I want you is nice, but I feel like I need you is sexier, stronger, and more expressive to a powerful unexplainable feeling, even if it isn’t in the literal sense. It’s like someone saying they like me vs they love me. “I want you to be mine” sounds good. But “I want you” by itaelf sounds a bit weak. However, I would never hold either phrase against anyone.

      Yes, this was a nice article, but I know everyone on the net has opinions and speaks them as truth, defining things and suggesting/believing things are “supposed” to be a certain way and anyone who doesn’t abide by that has something wrong with them. Most people just read and follow right along and agree, but not me. I am a natural human being with natural emotions and I know what I like and don’t like regardless of whatever superficial article, religion, rule of society, billboard chart, etc. says in regard to how I’m “supposed” to be or “supposed” to like or how I’m supposed to feel or express myself.

      If I feel like expressing myself saying “need” or whatever, I just say it, and the right person/people will understand and appreciate. Even in high school I was bullied and teased for years because I never conformed to the way majority society sheep said I was “supposed” to be, and never walked, talked, acted, behaved and thought the way I was “supposed” to (which even caused many who shared my ethnicity to say I didnt act black enough to be black, but getting off subject here).

      Years later, internet now exists and everyone still trying to pass rules, and I still do pretty much what I naturally feel, within reason. People can call / label my feelings and expressions what they want, but I continue to be me. At least I’m beimg honest with myself and accepting that I’m human with natural human desires, wants, needs, etc, regardless of how many others may dislike it. I will never become a sheep when it comes to natural emotions, even if it eliminates more than half of the available dating pool for me.

      Besides, common sense alone tells everyone that no one really needs anything outside of adequate air, food and water once they are old enough to survive on their own. Even smokers don’t “need” cigarettes. But that will never stop me from using the word “need” as an analogy to describe/effectively communicate a powerful unexplainable feeling I have for someone or something at the moment. Looks like it also doesn’t stop most songwriters who use that word as well.

      Lastly, I also take things that I can simply express my desire for by saying I “want” it less seriously than the things I’d use “need” for. But, once again, I would never hold any type of sweet gesture, or saying against anyone, even if it didn’t register in my brain the way they intended it in their minds. But then again, I am naturally very affectionate, romantic and expressive with words and actions, as those things are important to me. I’ve met those who couldn’t care less about that stuff or got annoyed by sweet, thoughtful remarks and gestures and preferred other ways of showing love, and even those who would write you off immediately for saying or doing one little thing wrong. I guess those people didn’t want me or whoever else enough, or possibly didn’t want love enough to overlook these things, or they’re too caught up on abiding by what others have taught them to be, like a religion. Who knows.

      Everyone has their styles.

  4. Well said here. You can’t expect to get happiness from your partner but only feel happy when they are. That’s what I call being in love. It all starts with you on the inside and later it shows on the outside and you’re able to share it with the one you love. All needs can never be satisfied but genuine love is fulfilling.

    • You can sense when there is a lot of need. I think it’s possible to experience both dynamics in a relationship – a partner can be thoughtful and generous, until they feel their own perceived needs are not being met. This can occur out of nowhere and come as a complete shock.

      When a partner is being needy, the pressure is immense. It feels like it’s on you to make everything okay – and there is no space for you to have needs.

      I do wish for an article that differentiates between neediness and basic emotional needs (and that it’s okay to have needs, tend to your own needs, and reach out for support occassionally). I hear that it’s okay to have needs, but that never really rings true for me personally. Most of my life I’ve had to be “okay” so I could fulfill my roles in helping others. I still feel that my having any needs is an unbearable burden for anyone.

  5. My wife wants an open relationship. I need her to NOT do that. I had no idea i wasn’t in a healthy loving relationship with my selfish needs. thank you

  6. I think that modern people have become terrified of being truly close to their lovers. In decades past, nobody would have thought that wishing to be one, feeling empty without their love, being attached or needing somebody was a sign of pathology.

    • Well it is what it is. Today, you must behave, act, think, and feel the way other people say is correct or else something is wrong with you.

      You no longer have the freedom to feel or experience natural human emotions, unless you do so “the right way.”

  7. Neediness stems from childhood trauma of one sort or another. To have genuine relationships, the repressed emotions from childhood need to be addressed and the feelings felt and released…then we can learn to love ourselves. Without this, it’s nearly impossible to follow the guidelines in this article.

  8. Thank you, all these seems obvious and natural once you have reached that stage of being in love with your own self (although there is no word in westerner languages for that part of “self” called swabhav in Hindi, your eternal original self.

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