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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Narcissistic abuse interests me due to my having been raised in a family riddled with sociopaths, narcissists and other cluster b personalities. As an adult, I became a psychologist in an attempt to understand the pain I’d endured in childhood. Throughout my adolescence and into adulthood, I’ve been attracted to manipulative people like a moth to a flame. Even now, I am recovering from the trauma of an abusive relationship. Becoming a psychologist was not the cure I’d hoped it would be. Nonetheless, I have seen my life improve since I’ve discontinued relationships with my family of origin; developed codes/ rules to govern my life; and practice mindfulness, meditation and mantras everyday. The steps to recovery are similar IMO to any addiction, realizing your powerlessness over past abuse and taking ACTION towards healing on a daily basis.
Narcissistic abuse interests me due to my having been raised in a family riddled with sociopaths, narcissists and other cluster b personalities. As an adult, I became a psychologist in an attempt to understand the pain I’d endured in childhood. Throughout my adolescence and into adulthood, I’ve been attracted to manipulative people like a moth to a flame. Even now, I am recovering from the trauma of an abusive relationship. Becoming a psychologist was not the cure I’d hoped it would be. Nonetheless, I have seen my life improve since I’ve discontinued relationships with my family of origin, developed codes/ rules to govern my life; and practice mindfulness, meditation and mantras everyday. The steps to recovery are similar IMO to any addiction, realizing your powerlessness over past abuse and taking ACTION towards healing on a daily basis.
As an adult, NO ONE can hurt you without your permission. Period. The aftermath of being an enabler or a victim is the result of your very own actions or inactions.
You treat people how to treat you. Period.
You can only be prey to the weak or mentally ill if you are not solid within. Ignorance, denial, empathy, etc… will not change another it will only enable them.
If you are not healthy you have NO RIGHT to be in a relationship. If a relationship is or becomes unhealthy you NEED to leave. No contact, don’t look back. Fix yourself.. do not absorb emotions of another.
NO ONE CAN HURT YOU WITHOUT YOUR PERMISSION. PERIOD.
I agree with npmden in saying I love she instead of he but in reading your posts Savannah, I see that you have done this to become more general neutral.
I respect that and just want to say that equality is a great thing and know that I can replace the he with a she in my mind because woman are warriors!
I’m in a horoble situation. He’s a narcissist and I’m a enabler, who had just started learning how to love herself at 50. Exactly on year later I met him. What a mistake. I’ve learned so much about me and people that are narcissus I had never heard narcissist until I met him. You have offered me so much understanding about what I’ve been doing to myself you are so on the money with every artlcle I’ve read
Unbreakable Love 4 Self
Growing up as the daughter of a very subservient Pastor’s wife, I learned very quickly that a woman’s role is to always sacrifice yourself for the needs of the man in your life. This conviction was and is so strong that I have gone through each failed relationship doing exactly that! I immersed myself in their world, forgot about what I wanted, thinking it would get me love and approval. Boy was I wrong. What it has gotten me is a broken heart on valentines day, after just being discarded by my narc fiance’ 3 days ago.. The things he’s said and done has left me spiralling into a pit of despair. Time to start living for me. We work together so its going to be a challenge, with his abusive behaviour extending to the workplace, but I’m up for the challenge because I’m worth it!! Finally after 28yrs of being alive I believe that I am. I am fearfully n wonderfully made. The word of God says as a man thinketh so is he,what a profound truth. Thanks for the wonderful work you do Savannah!
Married 40 years and loved him madly. But he is a poor businessman and often out of work. When he gets upset he goes silent and ignores me.
He divorced me three years after I had ovarian cancer and was diagnosed with several mental illnesses. I am getting better/stronger and working on becoming a warrior.
BTW I would have preferred the word SHE instead of he when defining a warrior. Just sayin.
Npeden if you knew how many emails and comments I get on a daily basis by men who have serious issues with the pronouns I use you’d find your comment as funny as I do.
Great perspective for needy men needing a litmus test before moving in the girl. I was made to believe mt needs were selfish and the guy is there just for the girls. I have never pursued my relationships… They found me. I figured it was more safe to begin with someone that liked me first. But I was wrong. When my life became the subtotal of every expense paid for with mt sacrifice….even of my career for her career advancement… It took separated time before i could see the dysfunctional side in action. Your artcle states the love-hunger side if men sacrificing just to be holding a warm body at midnight. When you lose yourself…like an addiction to have her…its time yourm listened when others try and help you… Be loosed … It aint love when its like that… Its not a healthy relationship.
I had to learn my value and self worth in a very painful way. Being treated like a door matt, forgiving the most horrible behaviour from the man who at the same time proclaimed his love and devotion. Until I reached a point where I thought : this is enough. why should I accept such behaviour? Would I ever treat a person I love in this way? NO. So why do I believe a man who calls me the most vulgar names, shouts at me, belittles me, offends me, makes fun of my values and opinions, enjoys boosting his ego by flirting with other women, why do I believe this man loves me truly and deeply? Love is not suppose to hurt. It is supposed to challenge you perhaps and get the best out of you. But it is not suppose to leave you hurt, humiliated, crying in the corner and feeling so bad you almost want to die.
I love this post so much. I’ve thought recently about my list regarding what I want in a man and the traits that my ideal partner would have (the non-superficial things, the qualities that really matter aside from the basics like respectful and caring). These totally are things I can work on in myself!
–Confident, has a high emotional IQ and adapts well to several different social situations: I can work on being more confident and improving my social skills. I’m not anti-social at all, but I am quite reserved at first when I meet people. It takes me a bit to warm up and really wish I wasn’t like this. Lately I’ve been forcing myself to go to work events even when I don’t feel like it, I don’t let myself turn down requests from friends to hang out, and I’ll go to events alone now to get better at this.
–Adventurous, loves to travel and travels well: Maybe it’s time for me to shake the dust off my passport and start planning a trip. I haven’t left the country in a while and traveling to a new place every year used to be SO important to me! As I’m getting older, my friends and I are finding it gets more difficult to travel than it did in our 20s. A good friend of mine KEEPS talking about going to Italy, and we both keep making excuses. We should just do it already.
–Someone who loves food, is not a picky eater and really enjoys cooking: I need to become a better cook! I get stuck in a rut during the week from being tired, lazy, or getting overwhelmed when reading a recipe. I now vow to make at least two entirely new dishes a month outside of my normal palate and what I eat. Being a good cook is such an important life skill to have!
This is so helpful, thank you. I sometimes think, I want to be a gentle person, maybe this imagery of being a warrior is to helpful? But no. Inside myself there is a constant attack. I do violence to my true self. The only way I could have taken the abuse I took from the narcissist in my life was by aggressively suppressing who i really am. So I need to meet this aggressive internal impulse with a conscious and aggressive response. I need to go to war with these internal messages. I need to fiercely protect my sensitive core with a watchful and string presence. Warrior energy is completely appropriate to the task. I need it to offset the violence I will otherwise do to myself.It’s what I want. My true self is worth fighting for.
@ Cowboy — Your comment is so well put! You’re right, we co-dependents and survivors of Narcs are unkind and aggressive to ourselves the most! We truly are our worst enemies. I like the imagery you discussed about becoming a warrior to protect ourselves.
NarcRepellant: It’s off topic a bit (apologies to anyone who finds it distracting), but I like your idea of becoming the person you always imagine meeting. Especially the travel part. Now here’s the off-topic piece: just one word regarding Italy, and it is Venice. If you haven’t been there, you should visit sometime. Truly a magical place. I always say it’s like Disneyland, but with a thousand year history, great art, and fantastic food — Disneyland for grownups. The key thing to do there is wander. Literally, get lost (it’s very easy, it’s like a labyrinth). No cars, only canals and streets for walking. If it doesn’t jazz you up and make you feel alive, check for a pulse!
@Cowboy — the imagery I got just from reading your description of Venice certainly jazzed me up! I can’t believe I am typing this on my phone to a stranger on the Internet, but I just had a moment of serendipity:
I had to go to a tourism trade show this morning for work. One of vendors had a “Where Should You Visit NExt?” quiz, and I took it. The questions were highly specific, and weren’t vague like a Bizzfeed quiz. The result I got was Venice. There it was, staring me right in the face.
I’ll also be seeing my friend tonight, the one who keeps talking about Italy. He is half Italian and has been wanting to explore that side of his heritage. I’m going to tell him tonight that we need to stop talking about it, and make this trip to Italy happen. Thank you for comments and insights!
LMAO! Been there, done that, bought that T-shirt AND BURNED IT! I am not a Self-Love Warrior.
I love this article. Love, love, love. I am on the boundary of learning/living to be a self-love warrior. Therapy for the past year has helped…enormously. Like the previous poster I grew up in an environment that was not loving. I look outside of me to find that love. I married a man who did not treat me right. We are currently separated as I found the courage to say ‘enough’….i love me more than I need him to love me with all his boundary breaking behaviours. I have learned to take care of that unloved child within and I nurture her on a daily basis with bubble baths, hugs, chats with her most vulnerable and lonely moments…as I do this, her pull becomes less and less and she is bring taken care of. I have a 2 year old son. I now know that he does not know how to love himself. I will mirror to him what self love is by taking care of him, teaching him, loving him and loving myself. Hopefully he will grow up to take good care of him and will not have to go through the very intense learning process I had to. I love yoga. I do lots of it. For the next few weeks I will focus on my self-love ‘warrior’ in all my warrior poses. I love me, I will take good care of me, I will only let in those who respect, trust and truly want me. Thanks for your awesome post. xo
Nice. Most of us who read your blog have grown up with a lack of love, and if we learn to love ourselves, we can fill that void. We can learn to be kind to ourselves. We can love ourselves for just who we are, unlike we felt our parents could do to us. As for me, I had enough food and shelter, and I believed my mother would protect me from all harm, but what I lacked was the love and belonging and acceptance for me, just for myself–not trying in vain to be good enough to be loved.