Face it, people are self serving! But, there are the rare occasions that a person may not act out of self promotion.

My mother always says that you should learn to love the person you have no need for. A true friendship is one in which neither one of you needs the other person, but you enjoy their presence.

Love versus need.
Round one.

Definitions of love are so varied almost no one can agree on what it is. Love is color splashed on the shades of gray that keep life from becoming a black and white experience. Sometimes love is equated with need. The "I can't live without you" experience is something we've all been through at one time. In most cases we really mean "I don't want to be without you" but it sounds better in the heat of emotional passion to state the feeling on a more dramatic level. At times the feelings are so strong that to imagine being separated is akin to having a limb ripped off.

Is the feeling of need and the desire to be with another a foundation of love? Perhaps. Love sometimes grows out of a powerful explosion and at other times creeps along slowly like a snowball down a snowy incline. However, the "need" may be counterproductive to the growth and power of the love. If the love is based on need, then the need becomes more powerful than the love, and thus the reason for being together is not founded on love. It is founded on need, either mutual or single-paned.

Love versus need.
Round two.

Imagine now that we remove the element of need (and for sake of simplification we are merely speaking about "romantic love" and ignoring all other kinds). Your significantly significant other person and yourself are in love. You are also quite sure that your heart and the rest of your body and soul will go on without this other person. You would rather they stuck around, but if circumstances change or something happens that keeps you from being together, then you will not die. You realize from the onset that you do not "need" this person.

The need based relationship is most common in young people and in lonely people. It isn't a real need. It is a perceived need. If you sit down and think about it without leaning on romantic images of "the one true love" and "there can be only one" you realize you don't "need" this other person to be happy, complete or real.

Love versus need.
Round three.

How we interpret the interpersonal relationships of our lives reflects upon who we are. To need another person to be complete by definition means we are not a complete person. Being mutually dependent on each other locks us into fulfilling roles for each other and slowly erodes our true selves.

This is not to say there is anything wrong with being in love and staying in love and wanting more than anything to be with another person for the rest of our lives. That has nothing to do with need. A mutual "want" between two people is quite different from a mutual "need." To need another person is like heroin. As long as two people want to be together and love each other, you have a special slice of nirvana.

Love versus need.
Round four.

If you can walk away from a relationship with your head up, knowing it was good while it lasted, then you'll be fine. If you cry for days and enter a zombie-like depression after that person you needed ran off with your cousin's mechanic's friend and made mad passionate love in the ski lodge you used to work at...

...you cut the cord. Easier said than done, but much harder if you perceive need. You wanted to be with this person, you had a great time with them, and you loved them, but now they are in a ski lodge screwing someone who wears turquoise pants. Are you going to bounce?

Love versus need.
Round five.

So, perhaps you think it is shallow not to have the heart wrenching need for another person. Maybe you think love and need have to present a unified front. Maybe you enjoy the mad passion that arises from the perceived need.

Abuse, both emotional and physical, are part of that equation. If your partner knows that you believe that you need them, that puts them on another page. After the ski lodge incident, they may come back, knowing you'll take them back because you "need" them. They might tear you down mentally and emotionally, increasing their sense of control over you because they are liking this power. Need puts your power over yourself into the hands of another.

Love versus need.
Round six.

Wants and needs evolve as the climate changes in a relationship. There is marriage and there are children. A sense of need may arise from this new framework. There is a commitment, but then there are shared responsibilities that create a new dependency. You can't pay the mortgage by yourself. You can't raise the kids yourself. In reality you can if circumstances change, but it will be very difficult. You would prefer not to have to handle these things on your own, and that creates a new perception of need. Do you really need this person? Still, the answer must be no if love is to remain the chief power between you.

Still, you must avoid falling into the self-defeating hamster wheel of need.

Love versus need.
Round seven.

It may be more difficult to feel genuine about your love for someone you do not "need." Someone you know you could walk away from may seem less important. To know you can walk away is not the same as walking away being easy. With love it never is. When love goes wrong, it is easier to stay, but more painful on the road ahead. Love changes into something else with anger and pain driving it into the night. The love dies eventually that way. When you walk away at the right time, it evolves into something more beautiful and remains love. The memories taste better and your feelings attain greater clarity.

Can love ever be truly pure? It cannot when tainted by need. Other than that, no one knows. Love wins by a knockout in the seventh round.

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