The Need To Love

All of us have an intense desire to be loved and nurtured. The need to be loved, as Bowlby’s and others’ experiments have shown, could be considered one of our most basic and fundamental needs.

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One of the forms that the need to be loved love takes is contact comfort—the desire to be held and touched. Findings show that babies who are deprived contact comfort, particularly during the first six months after they are born, grow up to be psychologically damaged.

Given the importance of the need to be loved, it isn’t surprising that most of us believe that a significant determinant of our happiness is whether we feel loved and cared for. In the surveys that have been conducted, people rate “having healthy relationships” as one of their top goals—on par with the goal of “leading a happy and fulfilling life.”

In our pursuit of the need to be loved, however, most of us fail to recognise that we have a parallel need: the need to love and care for others. This desire, it turns out, is just as strong as the need to be loved and nurtured.

We know that the desire to love and care for others is a hard-wired and deep-seated because fulfillment of this desire enhances our happiness levels. In other words, expressing love or compassion for others benefits not just the recipient of affection, but also its perpetrator.