Wants and Needs

Everyday Adventures

I got to thinking about them tonight, and how we tend to elevate certain things to ‘need’ status when really all they are are wants.

Basically we need oxygen to breathe, nourishment of some sort to feed our bodies, and shelter from the elements commonly considered as both housing and clothing. That’s it. All the rest is gravy.

Now, most people I think have a good handle on the difference between real needs and wants– but our language doesn’t always represent that. Frequently I’ll say something like ‘I can’t live without my cell phone/the internet/cable.’ Trivial things, but to me they make those bare necessities of life bearable, but really I could live without them if I had to.

Emotionally the difference between needs and wants can be blurred as well. I’m thinking that there are very few–if any–true emotional needs. I mean really. We need NOT to be subjected to harmful people or influences, but that’s something that can be worked around.

Why am I being all pithy and introspective? Well, I came close to saying something stupid, if only to myself. I almost said ‘I need’ about a person. Um, no. Why? Well, first of all its not accurate. I do not NEED any particular person for anything now that I am a relatively independent adult (the one exception would be my paycheck from my boss… but really that’s in order to supply two of the three basic needs for myself). Needing means you cannot live without. Now while this might sound harsh, I’m not trying to be, it’s just that needing someone implies obligating that someone.

I mean think about it: a baby needs a caregiver to supply his or her needs. Children need less and less caregiving as they grow into adult-hood and then (should be able to) rely on themselves. My dog needs me to be home to walk her at certain times and feed her. I am obligated by her need.

Now, I entered into that obligation freely of my own choice but it’s an obligation nonetheless. But my point here is that by ‘needing’ someone you are–if nothing else–asking them to accept that obligation, that burden of sorts that you cannot live without this person. Sometimes its a no-brainer and people are willing to accept the obligation with a happy heart, but it’s there no denying it.

I’m digressing a bit from my eventual point, but I swear I’m getting there in my own convoluted manner.

Anyway, I remember thinking about this back before I started dating again about what I really wanted. At first I went back to my automatic answer of ‘I need to be needed.’ Well, no. I want to be needed? Not even that. For the reasons stated above I don’t want someone to think they cannot live without me. Nor do I want to be that co-dependent ever again in my life. It may work for some people, but it’s not right for me. What I decided then, and still hold by, is that rather than needing or being needed by a particular person–rather than someone not being able to live without me–what I want, is someone to WANT me as much AS IF they needed me.

What’s the difference? Lots. That important distinction of need versus want. A need is instinctual, it’s inarguable, it’s life-dependent. A want is a desire, it’s a wish fulfilled, it’s something you would not choose to be without. That is the main thing–I don’t want an attraction that is some uncontrollable urge, I want to be a conscious choice.

And, for the record, I think I am. At this point in my life I have my needs accounted for and a vast majority of my wants, including being wanted in return. And I’m happy.

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