Why do we want love

The Need to Love | Psychology Today

All of us have an intense desire to be loved and nurtured. The need to be loved, as experiments by Bowlby and others have shown, could be considered one of our most basic and fundamental needs. One of the forms that this need takes is contact comfort—the desire to be held and touched. Findings show that babies who are deprived contact comfort, particularly during the first six months after they are born, grow up to be psychologically damaged.

Given the importance of the need to be loved, it isn’t surprising that most of us believe that a significant determinant of our happiness is whether we feel loved and cared for. In the surveys that I have conducted, people rate “having healthy relationships” as one of their top goals—on par with the goal of “leading a happy and fulfilling life.”

In our pursuit of the need to be loved, however, most of us fail to recognize that we have a parallel need: the need to love and care for others. This desire, it turns out, is just as strong as the need to be loved and nurtured. It is the desire to love and take care of others that underlies the phenomenon of “cute aggression.” Cute aggression refers to the tendency to pinch, hug, or otherwise express love for others—particularly cute babies, kittens or puppies—in ways that mildly hurt or cause discomfort to the object of our affection.

We know that the desire to love and care for others is a hard-wired and deep-seated because the fulfillment of this desire enhances our happiness levels. Expressing love or compassion for others benefits not just the recipient of affection, but also the person who delivers it.

And what’s more, it appears that even small acts of kindness generate just as much happiness as do lofty acts. In an interesting set of studies, participants were either given $5 or $20 as part of an experiment. Participants in both groups were then asked to either spend the money on themselves or on others. Those who spent the money on others, it turned out, grew happier than those who spent it on themselves. More interestingly, the amount of money spent on others didn’t make a difference to happiness levels: those who spent $5 derived just as much happiness as those who spent $20. Michael Norton, one of the study co-authors summarizes the deep-seated and universal nature of the need to love in his excellent TED talk.

If the need to love is hardwired and universal and is also a powerful determinant of happiness, why aren't many of us aware of it? Take the question: “What would make you most happy?” We do not answer with “serving others” or "showering love on someone." But rather with "money" or "being loved"?

Maybe the answer has to do with the messages we are routinely exposed to, from our care-takers and the media. These messages suggest that our happiness lies in being the recipient of others’ attention, love, and respect, rather than in being the donors of attention, love, and respect. For example, most of us are explicitly or implicitly told that happiness lies in achieving self-enhancing goals such as career success, wealth, fame, or power. The need to love and care for others, in contrast, is rarely emphasized, except perhaps in the arts.

What should a happiness maximizer do?

The happiness maximizer would be well advised to follow the Dalai Lama’s dictum: Be Selfish, Be Generous.

There are at least three reasons why those who practice generosity experience a boost in happiness levels. First, because people have an inherent propensity to be fair to others, recipients of generosity feel pressured to reciprocate it. Thus, when you are generous to others, you attract generous behaviors from them in return.

What goes around, comes around.

Second, in a phenomenon known as homophily, when you are generous, chances are, you will attract others who are similarly generous to you. And hanging out with generous and compassionate people is, for obvious reasons, more happiness-enhancing than hanging out with self-centered and materialistic people.

Finally, and this may be the most important reason why being generous enhances happiness levels, is because of the story you tell yourself. When you are generous, the story you tell yourself is that you have everything you need and more, which is why you can afford to be generous. In contrast, when you are miserly and greedy with your affection, the story you tell yourself is that you are a beggar who is dissatisfied with what you have and that you need more to be happy.

A well-kept secret to happiness, then, is to practice generosity. To derive a boost in happiness levels through generosity, however, it is not enough to recognize the link between the need to love and happiness; it is important to explicitly exhibit generosity—or “giftivism,” as Nipun Mehta calls it.

But how does one bring oneself to act in generous ways?

When I stress the importance of being generous to boost happiness levels with my students, most of them feel that they are not yet ready to be generous: they feel that they need to achieve greater wealth and success first before they can start being generous. An unspoken assumption underlying this way of thinking is that being generous requires significant resources. In reality, as the experiment with the $5 and $20 revealed, you can practice generosity with very little resources. In fact, being generous need not involve the expenditure of any resources.

For the final project in the class that I teach, I urge my students to think of a creative way in which they can bring joy and happiness to complete strangers. Students are charged with the task of finding simple and creative ways to spread joy to others. Some teams incurred relatively heavy expenses for this project, whereas others didn’t. For example, one of the teams bought and donated equipment to repair and construct houses—an act that involved the expenditure of significant resources. Another group, in contrast, simply wore goofy costumes and stood on street corners and jumped around while holding a "smiley" placard. Remarkably, both groups experienced an equal boost in happiness levels, suggesting that, from the standpoint of enhancing happiness levels, it is more important to act with the intention of being generous than it is to expend significant resources.

As echoed in Mother Teresa's famous quote, it is more important to do small things with great love than to do great things with little love.

If you are curious about the effect that the need to love can have on your happiness levels, why not play a "happiness prank" on someone? Consider leaving a box of chocolates outside your favorite (and unsuspecting) neighbors' door. Or pay for the person standing in line at the coffee shop.

Then, share your experiences of perpetrating a simple and random act of generosity with us.

Top Three Reasons Why We Fall in Love

"Love makes the world go 'round," but exactly why do we fall in love?

According to Hani Henry, chair and associate professor of psychology in the Department of Sociology, Anthropology, Psychology and Egyptology at AUC, Robert Sternberg’s psychological theory covers the most common reasons why we fall in love, namely: intimacy, passion and commitment.


Falling in love for intimate reasons can be described as having a basic friendship; it lacks commitment and passion. “Besides developing a close connection with someone, a lot of people seek intimacy for self-enhancement; it doesn’t necessarily have to be for sex,” said Henry. “Sometimes it’s self-serving. Everyone likes to feel cared for and loved. Women want to feel their femininity, and men want to feel their masculinity.”

Adele’s song Hello is a perfect example of how intimacy is captured. In the song's chorus, Adele contacts her ex-boyfriend and pours out her heartbreak from the relationship. She explains that many years have passed and she hasn't done much healing. “Her lyrics are magical and speak for a lot of people who want to have an emotional connection with anyone or a short-term relationship,” he said.


Letting ourselves fall in love because of desire or strong feelings for a person is normal. Passionate love is developed as a result of feelings that lead to sexual attraction, physical interest and romance. “When you see someone you like, you are captivated by something that draws you to that person,” explained Henry. “The attraction is physical, and there is a fascination with the hair, eyes and body.” 

In the absence of intimacy and commitment, infatuation is developed with the person you love. “People are drawn and quickly develop lust. Some people are obsessed and see that person as a type of object. You can be with someone for years and don’t feel there is commonality between you and that person,” he said.


Commitment is complete love. “People who seek commitment want stability and a healthy relationship,” he said. “If people only seek commitment, they may lack sexual attraction and basic friendship interests.”

According to Henry, in modern times, young adults are interested in objects more than relationships. “The objectification comes from consumerism,” he explained. “The more consumeristic the culture becomes, the less interest people have in commitments. Some youth are more interested in impressing people they don’t care about. So everything needs to be consumed, even relationships with people. ” 

Love Outside the Triangular Theory

Although it’s common that anyone can relate to Sternberg’s love theory, we all have our personal reasons for falling in love. “Your reason for falling in love doesn’t necessarily need to be explained by science. Some personal needs can be the fear of being alone, social peer pressure, satisfaction or religious values,” Henry said. 

Despite what psychology has to say about love, the type of love we choose defines who we are. We have our own way of understanding what makes us happy and fulfills our human needs. “Some people are caught with a need that meets each dimension of the triangle and they can’t give up on two because of the different needs they get. Love is very complex.”

Why do we want love so much, but we can't find it?

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Man and woman Loneliness

It would seem that we have every opportunity to find those who are interesting to us: dating sites, social networks and mobile applications are ready to give anyone a chance and promise to quickly find a partner for every taste. But we still find it difficult to find our love, connect and stay together.

Highest value

According to sociologists, the anxiety with which we think about great love is quite justified. Never before has the feeling of love been given so much importance. It lies at the foundation of our social ties, society is largely based on it: after all, it is love that creates and destroys couples, and therefore families and family clans. nine0003

It always has serious consequences. Each of us feels that our destiny will be determined by the quality of the love relationship that we have to live. “I need to meet a man who will love me and whom I will love in order to live with him and finally become a mother,” the 35-year-olds argue. “And if I fall out of love with him, I’ll get divorced,” many of those who already live in a couple are in a hurry to clarify ...

Many of us feel “not good enough” and do not find the strength to decide on a relationship

Our expectations for love relationships have skyrocketed. Faced with the inflated demands that potential partners make, many of us feel “not good enough” and do not find the strength to decide on a relationship. And the compromises that are inevitable in the relationship of two loving people confuse maximalists who agree only on ideal love.

Teenagers also did not escape the general anxiety. Of course, opening up to love at this age is risky: there is a high probability that we will not be loved in return, and teenagers are especially vulnerable and vulnerable. But today, their fears have intensified many times over. “They want romantic love, like in TV shows,” observes clinical psychologist Patrice Huer, “and at the same time prepare themselves for sexual relationships with the help of porn films.” nine0003

Conflicts of interest

Contradictions of this kind prevent us from giving in to love impulses. We dream of being independent and tying the knot with another person at the same time, living together and "walking on our own". We attach the highest value to the couple and the family, consider them as a source of strength and security, and at the same time glorify personal freedom.

We want to live an amazing, unique love story while continuing to focus on ourselves and our personal development. Meanwhile, if we want to manage our love life as confidently as we are used to planning and building a career, then self-forgetfulness, the desire to surrender to our feelings and other spiritual movements that make up the essence of love will inevitably be under our suspicion. nine0003

The more we prioritize the satisfaction of our own needs, the more difficult it is for us to give in.

Therefore, we would very much like to feel the intoxication of love, remaining, each for our part, completely immersed in building our social, professional and financial strategies. But how to dive headlong into the pool of passion, if so much vigilance, discipline and control are required of us in other areas? As a result, we are not only afraid to make unprofitable investments in a couple, but also expect dividends from a love union. nine0003

Fear of losing oneself

“In our time, more than ever, love is necessary for self-awareness, and at the same time it is impossible precisely because in a love relationship today we are looking not for another, but for self-awareness”, explains psychoanalyst Umberto Galimberti.

The more we become accustomed to prioritizing the satisfaction of our own needs, the more difficult it is for us to give in. And therefore we proudly straighten our shoulders and declare that our personality, our "I" is more valuable than love and family. If we have to sacrifice something, we will sacrifice love. But we are not born into the world by ourselves, we become them. Every meeting, every event shapes our unique experience. The brighter the event, the deeper its trace. And in this sense, little can be compared with love. nine0003

Our personality seems to be more valuable than love and family. If something needs to be sacrificed, we will sacrifice love.

“Love is the interruption of oneself because another person crosses our path,” answers Umberto Galimberti. - At our peril and risk, he is able to break our independence, change our personality, destroy all defense mechanisms. But if there weren’t these changes that break me, hurt me, endanger me, then how would I allow another to cross my path - him, who alone can allow me to go beyond myself? nine0003

Not to lose yourself, but to go beyond yourself. Remaining himself, but already different - at a new stage in life.

The war of the sexes

But all these difficulties, which have become more acute in our time, cannot be compared with the fundamental anxiety that accompanies the attraction of men and women to each other from time immemorial. This fear is born out of unconscious competition.

Archaic rivalry is rooted in the very core of love. It is partly masked today by social equality, but the age-old rivalry still asserts itself, especially in couples with a long relationship. And all the numerous layers of civilization that regulate our lives are unable to hide the fear of each of us in front of another person. nine0003

In everyday life, it manifests itself in the fact that women are afraid to become dependent again, to fall into submission to a man, or to be tormented by guilt if they want to leave. Men, on the other hand, see that the situation in a couple is becoming uncontrollable, that they cannot compete with their girlfriends, and become more and more passive next to them.

To find love, sometimes it is enough to give up the defensive position

“Where men used to hide their fear behind contempt, indifference and aggression, today most of them choose to run away,” says family therapist Catherine Serrurier. “This is not necessarily leaving the family, but a moral flight from a situation where they no longer want to engage in relationships, “leave” them.” nine0003

Lack of knowledge of the other as a cause of fear? This is an old story, not only in geopolitics, but also in love. To fear is added ignorance of oneself, one's deepest desires and internal contradictions. To find your love, sometimes it is enough to give up the defensive position, feel the desire to learn new things and learn to trust each other. It is mutual trust that forms the basis of any couple.

An unpredictable beginning

But how do we know that the one with whom fate brought us together is right for us? Is it possible to recognize a great feeling? There are no recipes and rules, but there are encouraging stories that everyone who goes in search of love needs so much. nine0003

“I met my future husband on the bus,” recalls 30-year-old Laura. — Usually I am embarrassed to talk to strangers, sit in headphones, face the window, or work. In short, I create a wall around myself. But he sat down next to me, and somehow it so happened that we chatted incessantly all the long way to the house.

I wouldn't call it love at first sight, rather it was a strong sense of predestination, but in a good way. My intuition told me that this person would become an important part of my life, that he would become ... well, yes, that one. nine0003

How to bring a fateful meeting closer?

No magic can make someone who embodies our ideal appear. If we want to meet our love, our task is to prepare for it. 5 important ideas from coach Benedict Ahn.

1. Come to terms with your love story. To do this, you need to answer two key questions for yourself: what did the other leave me when leaving (belief in myself, spontaneity, joy of life)? And what were the hidden bonuses in my previous relationships?

2. Bear your share of responsibility. "Am I afraid to suffer?", "Am I afraid to lose control?", "I don't want to make the wrong choice again?" It makes sense to write down the answers so that we can then evaluate how our negative projections affect the relationships we enter into.

3. Consider reality. Do not deceive yourself ("He will become different with me"). It is better to immediately listen to negative signals (emotions, sensations) and ask direct questions (“Are you divorced?”) To act on the basis of reality, not fantasy. nine0003

4. Define your project. What do I want: start a family, change my lifestyle, keep my territory? What do I expect from a relationship? (I'm ready to fall in love again, I like family life...).

5. Choose someone who is good...for me. Does the person I met want to date or create a couple? What is his/her motivation? Why didn't he/she have a relationship in the past? What does he/she want from life? Answering these questions will help you think more clearly. nine0003

Text: Daria Gromova Photo source: Getty Images

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Why do we want to be loved?

successful Love, Self-love, Man and woman, relationships, happiness, Success No comments

Love is a wonderful bright feeling that allows us to experience happiness, joy, pleasure, warmth, mutual understanding, and many more pleasant bright feelings. Being in a relationship with your partner, it is very important to feel that we are accepted and loved. Why is this so important to us?

Every person has a need for acceptance and warmth. With a normal attitude to the world, every person wants to love and be loved. We want to be loved, and we need warmth and mutual understanding. As for women, we often need love in order to feel at security next to her man. To understand that this person is reliable, you can rely on him, he will support and create certain conditions for our internal psychological comfort. After all, the trouble of a relationship often begins with a female phrase: “It seems to me that you don’t love me enough,” or even: “You don’t love me.” Sometimes, of course, this is nothing more than a fantasy played out, a way to attract attention to oneself, a form of self-pity. But still, if such a thought arose in your head, then it is quite possible that something in your relationship has cracked. And it's worth dealing with it if you want to keep what you have. nine0003

Therefore, it turns out that it is very important for a woman to be loved in order to feel safe. What is needed for this? Based on the common complaints of women about their relationships, we can conclude that most often there is not enough attention when it seems to women that it is given in insufficient quantities.

If this is your case, why is it so important to you? Maybe you are unsure of yourself , you are bored on your own, or you have a great need for outside approval. With all this, building strong relationships is quite difficult, absolutely any, not necessarily romantic. It will always seem to you that you have not received something, you have been underestimated or not noticed at all. This is due to pride. It needs to be dealt with, and, preferably, taken seriously. After all, it manifests itself in two forms - either an overly derogatory attitude towards oneself, or an overly arrogant, humiliating attitude towards others. In any case, the requirement of increased attention to one's person is already a reason to think. Take care of yourself in a healthy way. Start working on your personal qualities, engage in activities that are beneficial for the mind and body, and distract from the disturbing thoughts that you are not loved. By the way, if you don't know0069 what to do with yourself , you can read How to entertain yourself like a woman.

Direct your energy in a peaceful direction, relaxing, it is much easier to notice the good, and soon life will become much easier and more pleasant.

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