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Meeting our Needs


Do you recall Abraham Maslow's hierarchy of needs? He stated needs can be divided into two categories, deficiency needs or bottom tier such as physiological (survival) needs at the bottom and the more creative and intellectually oriented ‘self-actualization’ or growth needs at the top. Our needs are complex and multifaceted. The needs are not fixed, so one person needs creativity more while someone else needs connection more. Here is a list of needs that, when unmet, can lead to dissatisfaction or distress:

  • Physiological Needs:

  • Adequate nutrition, water, sleep, and physical health

  • Shelter and a safe living environment

  • Safety and Security:

  • Personal safety and protection from harm

  • Financial stability and job security

  • Health and wellness

  • Belonging and Connection:

  • Social relationships and a sense of belonging

  • Friendship and a community of like-minded individuals

  • Esteem and Recognition:

  • Recognition for efforts, achievements, and contributions

  • Self-respect and a positive self-image

  • Feeling valued by others

  • Autonomy and Control:

  • Independence and the ability to make choices

  • Control over one's own life and decisions

  • Freedom to express oneself

  • Competence and Mastery:

  • Opportunities for personal growth and learning

  • Feeling competent in one's endeavors

  • Challenging and meaningful tasks

  • Meaning and Purpose:

  • A sense of purpose and direction in life

  • Contributions to a more significant cause or community

  • Fulfillment through meaningful activities

  • Adventure and Novelty:

  • Variety and excitement in life

  • Novel experiences and exploration

  • Creativity and the opportunity for new challenges

  • Stimulation and Learning:

  • Intellectual stimulation and curiosity

  • Opportunities for ongoing learning and development

  • Exposure to new ideas and perspectives

  • Appreciation:

  • Feeling acknowledged and appreciated

  • Positive feedback and affirmation from others

  • Equity and Fairness:

  • Fair treatment and justice in personal and societal interactions

  • Equality and non-discrimination

  • A sense of fairness in relationships and communities

  • Freedom and Independence:

  • Autonomy and the ability to make choices independently

  • Freedom from oppressive influences or constraints

  • Living in a judgment-free zone

  • Closeness and Intimacy:

  • Emotional closeness and connection with others

  • Intimate relationships that provide emotional support

  • Trust and vulnerability in relationships


Have you wondered why things appear good but feel like you are struggling? It could be the result of an unmet need. Switching from working outside the home to being a stay-at-home parent can trigger the need for competency and mastery you weren’t anticipating. Likewise, a confident, secure person could appear insecure because they crave appreciation and recognition no

longer received from the workplace. 


After years of togetherness and hyper-focusing on the needs of the children, it’s easy for couples to lose the adventure and novelty that once existed in their relationship. Instead of recognizing the need and finding activities to do together, some couples fill these voids independently, which can begin the growing apart phase.



It's important to note that while these needs are interconnected, their significance may vary for each individual. Just because you don't need freedom and independence doesn't mean your partner doesn't need it. Understanding and addressing unmet needs can contribute to personal growth, improved well-being, and stronger relationships. Seeking support from friends, family, or professionals can also help address these needs. To improve your relationship, identify your top 5 needs and tell your partner how you feel when unmet or met. Sometimes, merely expressing our needs can be enough to help our partner fulfill them; other times, a deeper understanding of the impact on your life helps them get a clearer sense of what’s needed. They may not have realized how important it was for us, especially if it was not necessary for them.


You can also have these conversations with your parents, siblings, or close friends. 


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