When it comes to emotional needs, many people think of love. However, for each of us, love looks different. Each of us feels loved when certain types of behaviors, attitudes and actions are manifested, and these do not always coincide. Many of the arguments between partners, for example, are based on the fact that one of the partners does not feel that the love of the other reaches him and accuses him of not loving him enough or not at all. This can become very frustrating for the accused person because he feels that he loves enough and that his love is not received and appreciated.
However, this is not the only problem that can occur. We talk a lot about the need for love and what it means, but we talk too little about the need for autonomy. The specialists in the field of psychology have analyzed these types of needs in depth and reached the following conclusions.
To feel loved, many things matter, and not just the way the other one manifests it. First of all, it is about the way we were loved by the attachment figures from childhood, but also about certain fixed needs that we all have throughout our lives. We, as humans, are born with a series of relationship needs and a series of autonomy needs. We all know that we need to feel loved and protected and in contact with others, but we also need to feel free, to feel that we have power over our lives, over who we are and over who we will become. Specialists in psycho-traumatology researched and found that the relationship needs, together, create the feeling of love, and the needs of autonomy create the feeling of power and self-control.
The relationship needs include the need to be valued, the need to be sought, the need to be explored, the need to be gladly received, the need to receive feedback, the need to physiologically adjust to the other, the need for physiological exchanges and not only. These needs arise since we were born and continue throughout our lives, but they change depending on the stage of development we are in. So, in our early childhood, we need to be hugged very often to emotionally adjust, we need to be given a certain type of feedback, we need a certain amount of attention, we need to be looked for and explored more than an adult. When we are adults we need to be valued differently, we need less body adjustment with those around us, we need to feel less looked after, in ways that allow more independence than when we were children.
When we talk about autonomy, on the other hand, many people feel that it appears when we grow up and that this autonomy does not manifest in children, especially in early childhood. However, this is wrong. Autonomy manifests itself since we arrive on earth. The needs that make up the autonomy are: the need to be alone, the need to do things on your own, the need to be in control of yourself, the need to decide, to choose on your own, to rely on your own body and others. Children need to be allowed to do things themselves, even if they don’t do it well. When they want to eat on their own with a teaspoon they should be allowed to do so even if it gets dirty everywhere. When they want to go somewhere alone they should be allowed to do so, the parent being next to them, but not intervening in the activity. When we assume, as parents, that the little one is too fragile and incapable of doing things alone or when we want him to be good from his the first attempt, we only disrupt his manifestation of autonomy that must be exercised and allowed to develop.
People who end up having problems with the development of their autonomy by not having met the needs for autonomy by the parents end up developing dependence problems in relationships more than others because they reach the point where they compensate for the lack of autonomy by taking more out of relationships. That is, when a person is not allowed to develop his or her autonomy, he or she becomes incapable and powerless and needs to rely always on others, which puts the bases for dependence. And when others are unavailable to them, they become extremely anxious and desperate. This is one of the reasons for many manifestations of anxiety, panic and even depression.
In order to feel loved, on the other hand, we need to feel that people that are important to us are looking for us, that they are interested in how we feel, what we are doing, what we want, that they feel the need for touch and for physical contact with us, that they validates us , that they respect and admire us and show that we are important to them. We say that we feel loved and that we love when we offer and receive this type of care focused on meeting the needs. That’s why for each of us, love seems to look different. Because everyone speaks in terms of needs and there is a tendency to focus on what was missing and hurt us or how these needs were met in childhood.
What is very important to remember is that when we do not have these needs met we become deeply hurt and deny them. If we did not receive in all our childhood and adolescence what we needed to feel autonomous or valued, for example, we develop beliefs about who we are according to this, denying that we needed to feel valuable and that we would be valuable persons. Or capable of independence. These are deep wounds that can be healed with a specialist’s intervention, but also with a lot of work done on our own. A consistent effort must be made outside psychologist office as well. It is not an easy thing and this is why not many people will undertake a healing process but this will turn against them both through relational unhappiness and through the reduced ability to manage their lives as they wish. A life lived in dependence with others consists of many self-sacrifices and giving up on dreams.