The Shifting “Relationship Needs”


This article tries to explore how the “motivation” behind getting into a committed relationship has changed over the years. This change also brings in different set of expectations in a relationship. Associating Maslows need theory to the need for a relationship gives insights into changing patterns in society and changing needs in relationships.

Have you for once wondered – why couples deeply in love and committed for years grow out of it after a point of time? Was the relationship equation in older generation very different from ours? Do we demand too much and give too little in a relationship? What’s with the new generation – are we totally confused? How does one find the right partner – arranged vs. love? Did I say “right” – who knows what’s right ?

It’s interesting and insightful to associate Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs Theory to “relationship needs” – and one could also find probable answers to the above questions. Maslow’s hierarchy of needs is a theory in psychology proposed by Abraham Maslow in 1943. This theory is often portrayed in the shape of a pyramid with the largest, most fundamental/basic levels of needs at the bottom and the ultimate need for self-actualization at the top of the pyramid. The most basic level of needs must be met before the individual can have strong desire for higher level needs. The 5 levels of needs from basic to higher are – Physiological, Safety, Love, Esteem and Self Actualization.

maslow.002

Now, let’s delve into the motivation for getting into a committed relationship. In an era where women were economically dependent and men didn’t do house hold chores, the motivation for marriage was at the basic level – for safety, security and settling down. (Many relationships still are at this level.) The expectations were to meet the basic needs. The expectations were low and hence the satisfaction was high. Couples were dependent at the basic levels. When women became economically independent and household chores became automated or outsourced – the motivation for marriage moved beyond fulfilling the basic safety, security and settling down needs.

The next level of need is love, affection and sense of belonging. Individuals at this level want “love/liking” to be a criteria for their committment. Expectations are obviously higher than  the earlier type and hence efforts have to be taken by partners to have the emotional connectedness in tact as they move along.

Let’s move a step further and that’s where this generation is headed, and that’s where growing relationships should also head – from love to fulfilling self actualization needs. The need is to find a partner who truly “partners” in his/her  journey of self actualization. A partnership that helps each partner become the best version of themselves.

This certainly is the highest level of need, and having such a relationship is highly rewarding. The  expectations from relationships  are higher than ever before.  Even though such partners seem to look very independent – as they are quite independent fulfilling their basic needs, but they still need to relate to each other at emotional, intellectual and spiritual level to fulfill each other’s self actualization needs.

With this co-relation, it becomes pretty clear why some couples who were deeply in love grew out of it over time. The couples were at the “love” need when they committed, and years later when one moves up to self actualization need, the other may not be ready or they just do not relate to each other’s higher needs.

One size doesn’t fit all – arranged marriage could work for some, love marriage for others.  What’s important is – the clarity on your need to get into a committed relationship. What “need level” are you trying to fulfill? – This helps you figure out what you need to look for.

If your need for a relationship is at the self actualization level – it is very important that beyond  emotional connectedness, you have insights into each other’s real self. It’s not just emotional  compatibility  but intellectual as well as spiritual (spiritual is not religious) compatibility that is important for “self actualization couples”.

Advertisements

52 Comments Add yours

  1. AKG says:

    Hi, All your blogs are just wonderful and so well explained on such complex matter of relationships. Just superb.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. SoulCafe says:

      Thank you so much for your feedback.

      Like

  2. Indrajit Sen says:

    wonderful and down to earth analysis….

    Like

    1. SoulCafe says:

      Thanks a lot Indrajit.

      Like

  3. Roshni says:

    Good one.

    Like

  4. Satish says:

    With all due respect , I suspect that you are attributing too much to this self-actualization needs part of your triangle. Most marriages still seem to follow the basic rules of economics (which to large extent are your lower parts of your triangle are a proxy of ).You would probably agree with me that most european (atleast west european) societies have reached the same level of self actualization needs (I still don’t understand how you would define it concretely) as the ones in US. If so, then should we not see a similarity in marriage or divorce rates between the two societies. Well turns out , not so much. There is marked difference between these two rates, here is some thing that talks about and also correlates with the work hours each society puts in. http://www.voxeu.org/article/divorce-rates-help-explain-why-americans-work-more-europeans

    Also, American South which is markedly poorer and less educated (fitting the lower part of your triangle) has much higher divorce rates than the rest of the country. So, there is probably some thing else thats going on beyond self-actualization needs that helps explain why people stay or do not stay together.

    Like

    1. SoulCafe says:

      Thanks Satish for going thru the post and posting this comment. The idea behind the article is for us to have a clear understanding on which part of the triangle we are in and where we are heading towards in a relationship. Talking about divorce rates, I personally believe – low divorce rates can’t be taken as the measurement criteria for contended relationships in a society. Divorce is more accepted in west and hence you would see the rates as high.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. shyama says:

    Well said “relationship” explained in a simple and best way.

    Like

  6. Charles says:

    Interesting blog and very meaningful.
    Good job.

    Like

  7. Maha says:

    Western education has a tendency to assume the humans today are much higher in thinking compared to the past, thus it is the root cause of all the ill founded theories that we see today. Do you think human in the past man or woman has less self actualization compared to today? This is totally wrong assumption.

    A relationship will only be successful if both man and woman fulfills their role or duty correctly. Today people forgets this primary principle and leads a selfish life. When in a relationship one only thinks of what I get all the time rather than I shall give than it will become unhealthy.

    Like

    1. SoulCafe says:

      Hi Maha – Thanks a lot for going through this post and taking the time to comment. This has nothing to do western influence – changes in society either in west or east brings about a shift in what people’s priorities are. Even western societies have changed over the years from victorian…to industrial revolution..world wars etc where the role of women has changed significantly. I wouldn’t say people in the past didnt have higher thinking but society as a whole the priorities were different. People had more kids (and it was actually a matter a pride and prooof of fertility) and there was clear segregation of labor of what’s expected from a man and what’s expected from a woman. The society has transitioned from that phase and hence that brings different set of priorities – people do have more time and energy to think about self actualization needs. You are true, selfishness wouldn’t lead to a healthy relationship but self actualization shouldn’t be misinterpretted as “narcissism” which is altogether different. You inspire me to write on “narcissism” in a relationship – which actually is dangerous 🙂 Thanks again!

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Garima singh says:

    Good insight into relationships ….. Looking forward for ur next article .

    Like

    1. SoulCafe says:

      Thanks a lot Garima!

      Like

  9. Gopal says:

    Well Relationship are much more complicated I believe. However, the theory aspect is good

    Like

    1. SoulCafe says:

      True Gopal..it is..this is just one angle of looking at it.

      Like

  10. nikita satoskar says:

    That was really awesome ….. Maslow’s theory well explained with respect to relationships

    Like

    1. SoulCafe says:

      Thanks a lot Nikita!

      Like

  11. Vishal Ladsaria says:

    Nice description about relationships.

    Gud one,,,:)

    Like

  12. Tarang says:

    Super post Soul Cafe….brilliant logic….

    Like

    1. SoulCafe says:

      Thanks a lot Tarang!

      Like

  13. sab z f says:

    Good insight into marriage and relationship.
    Would agree to the self actualization theory …… Though wouldn’t deny the role of society and culture.
    All relationships have an influence of the socio-ccultural milieu. ….however ones own needs, mental frame and intellect have a greater impact on the success or failure of relationships.
    The article throws light on the change in the needs of people especially marriage.
    Self actualization can not be confused with selfishness. ….. besides each iindividual’s self actualization needs differ.
    Enjoyed reading the article and the comments it got. ….

    Like

    1. SoulCafe says:

      Thanks a lot sabz!

      Like

  14. Xyz says:

    Nice article.. I will make my mom read this.. 🙂

    Also.. My generation is kind of trying to push the marriage age as much as possible . not all of us, but many. I for one am fighting for time from my parents. they don’t seem to understand why I say I want to wait for another two years.
    Is this theory applicable to this as well?

    Like

    1. SoulCafe says:

      Hi xyz (i am sure u aren’t xyz 🙂
      Thanks for your comments. Not sure if you read this one https://dsoulcafe.wordpress.com/2014/09/11/the-20-something-indians-dilemma/
      may be you want your mom to read that 🙂
      whenevr u plan to get into a committed relationship – ask yourself what intrinsic need are you trying to fulfill and as humans we tend to move the need ladder up..so even after u marry..u wld be evolving..if the partners evolve together in same direction there is lot of harmony.

      Like

  15. A says:

    This is the first blog which I read from you. I have only one thing to say, you won me, (y).

    Like

  16. B says:

    good one… loved it

    Like

  17. Great Article, There is nothing more important than self-actualization. I tell you my story, I don’t fall into a relationship or believe in marriages for this very reason. I find it extremely discomforting to attend to in-laws weddings and have dinner with them because that’s not my real self. I love my family, but I don’t like hanging out with them all the time, more than anything else, my personal space is important for me. I feel most content when I am alone reading a book or watching a documentary on a significant topic of the world or having drinks my particular 3 best friends. Now that’s a kind of real self, no one can relate to [Yes I know, I sound Geek-ish and Weird, but I like it this way]… So, marriages are not my thing and your article was like a pat on my back, that yes, what I believe in, does have a word for it… “Self Actualization”

    Like

    1. SoulCafe says:

      Thanks a lot for your comments. Glad that you could relate to it!! We all as we mature do come across on what is it that what we really like and want to be our real selves than fake. A great relationship should have acceptance for one another’s real self and I guess that’s what you have with your 3 great friends. Marriages need not push people to be a self that they really are not. There are couples I know closely ..who appreciate each other’s real self and give them the space they need and its great to see such combinations. You don’t sound geekish or weird ..you just sound honest and real the way you are!! Thanks Again!

      Like

      1. glad you think that it is not weird. When I ask my people “why do you think I need to get married” they don’t have any valid answer apart from “everyone does” and “people will start gossiping” or “to have kids”.

        I am looking for the answer that you you gave me, from them, “There are couples I know closely ..who appreciate each other’s real self and give them the space they need and its great to see such combinations”.

        Sadly, they don’t ever talk about Self Actualization.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. SoulCafe says:

        Love your honesty and keep it as is. Would like to know your thoughts on the new post:
        https://dsoulcafe.wordpress.com/2014/11/05/the-journey-of-finding-yourself/

        Like

  18. SJOSE says:

    Great Article and few of my thoughts
    To fulfill this criteria both the partners need to be independent .. now I am finding this little bit going away from the philosophy of love.. which I guess now in modern society doesn’t exist and it flashes around with these glamorous statements of being independent.. Unconditional love used to exist/might be still there around 🙂 where actually you love the person the way he/she is and not expecting him or her to be the way you want to be.. now yes it is bit painful and contradictory but I believe love has its own sacrifices and today in society everyone wants comfort in there own philosophical ways. I truly agree if true love doesn’t exist then lets go this path where at least people are more connected and have peace

    Like

    1. SoulCafe says:

      Thanks for your comments SJOSE but I feel you have slightly misunderstood the content.True love does exist and love doesn’t mean lack of independence. This article does not talk about moulding someone to suit you. What this topic talks about is the changes in “need levels” that happens to each individual and how partners need to understand the change. Understanding of the change helps us invest more into the relationship than simply taking it for granted. Hope that clarifies. I am not advocating here to change partners as your need changes but it’s important to understand why that distancing could happen and hence paying attention to those changes helps.

      Like

  19. Rolling stone says:

    I found an answer to a lot of my thoughts …. you put that really well …will look forward to your next post …

    Like

  20. ramya says:

    While your write up talks about woman it does not talk about men and their side in the relationship.
    I would say earlier days they were breadwinner s and needed the wife to look after the home. Today more men work or contribute at home and so dont feel the need for a wife but a partner who can relate much beyond just keeping the home. Alot of divorce s occur because some men are still at that basic level where they depend on their wives for all home related jobs and refuse to see her as an individual with own aspirations.

    Like

  21. Sameera hassan says:

    Well said Sofia!

    Like

    1. SoulCafe says:

      Thanks a lot Sameera!

      Like

  22. Navina Anand says:

    Enjoyed reading this new perspective Sophia 🙂

    Like

    1. SoulCafe says:

      Thanks a lot Navina 🙂

      Like

  23. Anita says:

    How can both the partners in a relationship attain Self actualization simultaneously? The pace may be different. How can one keep the pace with other? The gap in self actualization will increase the gap in the relationship. One may not connect with the other then.

    Like

    1. SoulCafe says:

      Hi Anita – Great question. I myself have always wondered if self actualization would bring in a distance. But I believe if one person gets into the “self actualization” path and the other does not – it surely brings a mental disconnect. If both are in the “self actualization” quest – they would understand the partner’s point of view. Their mental states are on the similar lines and they get it. I think the right balance of making quality time available for each other (making that a priority), open conversations and giving each other enough “space”/ “independence” to explore their inner quest would be key.

      Like

  24. Anita says:

    Hi SoulCafe,
    U said,”If both are in the “self actualization” quest – they would understand the partner’s point of view. ”
    Understanding the partner’s point of view is no doubt a good thing. But how far will it help?
    Each individual’s self actualization will/may be
    different from the other. For example One partner’s self actualization may involve slow down in carrier to explore new places,new things. Another partner’s self actualization contains priorities towards family or society.Even though they can understand it,connecting with other will be difficult then.
    So ‘ the self actualization’ be it in one or both the partners will increase the gap in relationship?

    Like

    1. SoulCafe says:

      Hi Anita – It isn’t necessary that the relationship would have a gap. From an external person’s stand point they might look very independant persuing their goals. Such couple usually come up with the right balance of giving each other enough space as well as emotional/mental support whenever needed. The needs from each other would have totally changed for example – more than flowers and chocolates surprises its being able to understand your spouses challenges would matter more. So even a good conversation after a hard day would feel like bliss. But if the couples are at different need levels – one may not understand the other’s mental frame and conversations might seem difficult and frustrating. Hope that answers your question.

      Like

  25. nutty says:

    Trying to explain this to my parents for so long. I can just send the link.

    Liked by 1 person

  26. Anjali says:

    Great read 🙂

    Like

    1. Sophia says:

      Thanks a lot Anjali 🙂

      Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s