How Do You Know If He or She Loves You
Or Just Needs You?

By Yangki Christine Akiteng, Love Doctor 


Picture this: You meet this person who seems to meet your every need and the relationship flourishes for a while but suddenly and out of nowhere he or she needs some time to think and figure things out or has so many doubts about him or herself, you or the relationship, or he or she just stops calling and rarely returns your calls. You are left stunned and confused over his or her sudden change in behavior: What happened? What did I do?

What you did is that you developed an attachment (based on need) to that person and got it confused with love.

So many men and women often use the word "love" when they really mean "need". I have many of my clients who come to me with a broken heart, "I really love him/her" but when we analyze what he or she really means, the person realizes that what they really meant was, "I really need him/her"

What's the difference?

Have you had crush on or "fallen in love" with a woman who seems so gorgeous and wonderful and one month or year later look at the person and see butt ugly and "has serious emotional problems". Or have a great sexual relationship with a man you are not compatible with and although it is so obvious that your relationship is just a "booty call" in which you feel used, you are still willing to put yourself out there to be used, misused, abused and reused again and again...

That is attraction based on need and not love. When you are driven by an unfulfilled psychological need for validation, obsessed about the romantic stuff or pushy about getting into a relationship you'll typically develop an affinity to a member of the opposite sex who seemingly meets whatever need it is. Your emotional state (fear, anxiety, low self esteem, desperate, drunk, superficial, unrealistic, broke or struggling financially, angry, lonely etc) at the time you meet makes the person appear more attractive and desirable than he or she actually is. In a way that person temporally alleviates those "feelings" by providing temporary comfort making you feel good about yourself.

The same applies to when someone is attracted to you because they think or have convinced themselves that you will make them feel good.

How can we determine whether what we feel is love or attachment based on need?

1. Love based on need is often based on unrealistic expectations of perfection: "We had very much in common. In fact, he/she is perfect!' The irony is that our object of unrealistic expectations is often also looking for the perfect man or woman. Go figure!

2. Love based on need is often based on opinions like good looks, status, material possessions, race (including "loving" someone just because he or she is of a different race), etc. which may be quite irrelevant or even obstacles for being able to live happily together with the person.

3. In love based on need, your feelings are a "little" exaggerated in that you are caught up in uncontrolled and overwhelming emotions which run from one extreme to another - from feeling deeply in love and being loved to feeling uncertain and even depressed.


4. When you need rather than love someone, you feel fear, anxiety, worry or jealousy especially when separated from him or her. This kind of "love" often leads to possessiveness and possessiveness leads to FEAR of losing, fake affection out of fear, overprotection, craving or even the feeling: I can't live without her/him.

5. There is a sense of "owing to" in the relationship. In love based on need, how much each person "loves" is measured by and dependant on how much the other person fulfills a need or indulges a desire. We often close our eyes to the negative qualities.

6. Being in "love" based on need feels very exciting but it is also mixed with a fair amount of "pain" and the feeling that you are somehow "suffering" or not being appreciated and valued - enough.

It can be a sobering experience when one deeply reflects on what we normally describe as "love". Try this experiment. Ask the man or woman you are dating in person or online ?what kind of person they are looking for/interested in". If someone's is driven by need, they'll say something like "I want a man/woman who looks like... or makes me feel... or who does this or that for ME." They'll run you a list of their "NEEDS" (often very unaware) and the kind of person who they believe will fulfill those needs (read between the lines, you'll not miss it!). Better yet, go online and pull up a profile of a potential mate and you'll see what I mean by "looking for a person to fill a need".

A person driven by REAL LOVE on the other hand may something along the lines "I am interested in a man/woman, I can do this and that FOR" or "I can do this or that WITH". They send the message that they feel they have something about themselves that is VALUABLE and want to share it with a DESERVING person.

So if you have a crush on someone or have been dating him or her, the potential for something very special could be there... but you must be willing to take the risk of finding out what the person thinks and wants and needs in another person and in the relationship (what makes him or her tick). Doing that may be risking rejection, but knowing is much better than just guessing or creating bonds that may turn very unpleasant!