We all have an innate need to love and be loved, to belong to something, a family, a circle of friends, or even admired by colleagues. When we feel connected to others, it brings us a sense of security, joy and belongingness.
Twentieth century psychologist, Abraham Maslow, listed the need for love and belongingness in his famous hierarchy of needs. This theory is a scale of what drives human motivation. On the bottom of the pyramid, thus being the most important, are physiological needs, such as oxygen, food, water ect. Following that on the pyramid is the need for safety, safety from harm, pain, the elements, illness, financial ruin, death… and third on Maslow’s list, is the need for love and belongingness. So according to Maslow, physiological needs, safety needs and the need for love are the three most significant motivations that drive human behavior.
Sometimes this need to love and be loved can become pathological. When seeking it becomes an obsession and we are willing to derive it from dysfunctional sources, and when it has become the method where we derive our self-esteem, then it has crossed over into the dysfunctional.
We all know people who have to have a man, or have to have a woman. This ever-present need is void filling behavior. They somehow don’t feel complete if they don’t have a romantic partner in their lives, puffing them up and making them feel good. It’s like they say to themselves, ‘I’m nothing unless someone else wants me,’ and they very quickly latch on to anyone that pays them the slightest bit of attention, completely disregarding 100 red flags that are so obvious they are practically smacking them in the face.
In some cases the motivation to fulfil this need is about the belief that they need to be taken care of. Somewhere deep inside many of us, is the belief that we’re lost, scared children and we need to have someone else provide us with stability, and financial and emotional resources, that we can’t do it on our own. At some point we were told that we were useless and we believed it and it manifests in our adult relationships as feelings of neediness, insecurity and an inability to care for one’s self.
I have a bar hopping cousin and if she meets a man, who shows any interest in her, what-so-ever, she becomes a different person. She can’t stop smiling and twirling her hair, she dials up her flirtation button to 100, and focuses on her target with the precision of a neuro surgeon, while ignoring all of her friends in the process. If her target says, “You’re really cute, I have 9 children by 8 different mothers, I’ve been arrested for beating up 4 of them and 6 of them have restraining orders against me,” she has the uncanny ability to stop absorbing any further information after, ‘you’re really cute.’
Individuals that obtain their worth, through the admiration of other people, seem to have a beacon that only hears compliments and drowns out everything else, even when presented with irrefutable evidence, that shouldn’t be ignored. It’s not that they don’t hear it, but they make the choice to disregard it, in the face of someone who may potentially fulfill their needs.
This need is powerful for these types, so much so, that they will engage in high risk behavior, because they are willing to put up with miles of bad, for a few feet of good. The little bits of joy they receive becomes like a drug and they develop an addiction to it. These types of relationships move exceptionally fast, they’ve got their new mate moving in within a matter of weeks, possibly even days, there’s an inappropriate sharing of their resources, work, responsibility…. They have left themselves wide open for abuse and/or to be taken advantage of. If you find yourself in a relationship that is moving way too fast, you need to hit the abort button if you’ve only been dating someone for a couple of weeks and:
- They already know the PIN number for you bank card – that’s a problem. Change your PIN now.
- If they already have a key to your place and know the alarm code – that’s a problem.
- If they are regularly borrowing your car – that’s a problem.
- If they’re sitting on your couch watching TV and you’re getting up and going to work every day – that’s a problem.
- If another woman is giving birth to another one of their children and they’re with you – that’s a problem.
Finding the Warrior Within
Everyone has done stupid things in the name of love, but what all this is really about here isn’t love, it’s about a lack of love – for ourselves. We all have that internal chatter that wants to keep reminding us that we aren’t good enough, smart enough, attractive enough, but the difference between healthy people and unhealthy people is that healthy people defeat that I’m not good enough monster on a daily basis. They know that the internal chatter will always be there and they are always ready to battle it.
When you come to a place of radical self-love, you will find that you have become a warrior. They always say that the worst no-smoking advocates are former smokers and the same can be said of those who have found their own worth. Being your own warrior is a choice. You can choose to put yourself in harm’s way – or you can choose to protect yourself. You can choose to be a victim – or you can choose to battle through. You can choose to be taken advantage of – or you can choose to give yourself what you need.
Being a Self-Love Warrior is a new way of thinking about yourself – it’s the decision to be emotionally healthy and to put yourself first. It’s about you taking care of you, making yourself your top priority,
The Self-Love Warrior is a leader and he leads an army of one, fighting always for what is right, and fair for him, never settling for less than he deserves, always setting the bar high and seeking out new challenges. The self-love warrior is constantly vigilant for those that would upset his balance and seek to cause him harm. He has a built in bullshit detector and it’s always on and always working. The self-love warrior has learned to never let anything penetrate his resolve. He is in control of his emotions and doesn’t engage in the drama of others. Although he does feel fear at times, he doesn’t let it stop him – he does it anyway. He has an endless amount of care and compassion for all, but especially himself. He makes sure that he meets all of his own needs. He doesn’t dwell on his mistakes, or his past. A self-love warrior knows that his worth is up to him and he does not seek it outside of himself. He disregards those that would devalue him. He is certainty in motion and cannot be swayed by the opinion of others. He doesn’t hope, he doesn’t wish, instead he knows. He walks with certainty. He is a warrior through and through and his truth, his value belongs only to him and can never be destroyed.
The need to be loved should not have the strength to cloud your judgment and force you into unwise and harmful decisions. When you become a warrior of self-love you no longer need anyone to take care of you and make you feel complete, because you have learned how to make yourself feel whole and complete – you validate yourself. When you are making a decision about dating someone and you are a self-love warrior, those decisions will come from the right place, not from fear, need or desperation, but from a healthy place of consideration, where you’re looking at things from a logical and emotional perspective.
A reader sent me an email about advice she had heard a therapist give her patient. She told her to write out a list of all the qualities she would like to see in a man, qualities like, strong, a good provider, full of integrity, kind, generous…. And when you’ve compiled that list – be those things yourself. Good Advice.
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Image courtesy of Marin at freedigitalphotos.net