Our Needs

Our Needs

Maslow’s Hierarchy is not specifically about relationships. It is reproduced here as an opportunity to review how your needs are being met, and secondly as a way for you to engage your brain in a sphere monopolised by emotions.

Look at the diagram and think about your needs. Maslow said:

  • It is not possible to get proper need satisfaction at any level, if needs are not being fully met at a level lower down on the hierarchy.
  • Different needs become “dominant”, eg: if you’re thinking about having a child, safety and security might look like the only need you will ever have for the rest of your life. Or; a need for self-esteem may overrule all others when you are troubled by job or redundancy issues.
  • Persistent denial of any of our needs can lead to “malajustment” (anxiety, anger, depression).

Do not look to your relationship to meet all your individual needs. However, some needs are particularly relevant:

Level Needs
5 Acceptance (by both partners) of your unique creativity
4 Self-esteem, feeling respected by and respecting your partner
3 Belonging to a partnership/family. Group reassurance, Sexual intimacy etc
2 Security and safety of resources and moral values (within relationship)
1 Sex

Our needs are different: Someone from a closely bonded family may have a greater need for love/belonging. For example, family-of-origin attitudes towards sex influence adult sexual needs.

Curiosity about our partner’s needs enables us towards accepting their different frame of reference. We do not have to accept behaviour that significantly breaches our own needs, yet shared disclosure leads to creative ways of dealing with the needs of both partners.

Knowing and understanding matters much more than fixing. Maybe one partner has a need that cannot be met at present; persisting with failed attempts at fixing this can bring powerlessness and blame. It is better to accept the loss and share the frustration and sadness together. Meeting that need may come more naturally later on.

Ask: What are my needs at each level in my life now? List them. For example: What are your sexual needs? Security/safety needs? Belonging/love needs? Self esteem needs? Creative needs? Score them out of ten according to present satisfaction. Now dialogue with your partner.

You might also like:
Selfish Sex

With thanks to Abrhaam Maslow – A Theory of Human Motivation (1943).

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