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Need, Want, Love, Respect – What’s the Difference?

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In our lives, we often interchange the ideas of needing, wanting, loving, and respecting someone. Does this mean that they’re actually interchangeable?

Over my life, I’ve been in quite a few different relationships. Some were good, and some were bad – but they all offered valuable experiences for me. I learned with every relationship, and learned to sift through the many sentiments that we express to our significant others.

Often times, we use those sentiments interchangeably. This comes from the stance that most of the time, you’ll feel all of them for the same woman if the relationship is serious. However, for those who are less experienced in their relationships, it may be important to note that they’re not the same thing.


I need you

This means that you depend on the person. While sometimes this is an exaggeration, it typically deals with things you couldn’t do for yourself.

For example, if you are financially dependent on your partner, you may need them. Sometimes this is just a case of you being in a position currently that makes it difficult for you to support yourself. However, there are some cases when “needing” someone isn’t a matter of them helping you out, it’s a matter of them holding you back.

Sometimes, in manipulative and controlling relationships, the partner who is in control may make it difficult (or impossible) for the other partner to do the things they need to do. For example, if your partner demands that you stay home and take care of the house, it may be difficult for you to find a job if you were to be separated from your partner.

If you feel that your partner is controlling your finances, it’s important to know that this need doesn’t have to be permanent. While it’s definitely harder to apply for jobs without work history, there are always jobs that can be performed without experience, as well as ways to spin “homemaker” into a resume-worthy experience.

Another situation where you may feel that you need your partner exists when we are emotionally attached to our partner at a level that we feel we could literally die if we were to be separated from them. Obviously, broken hearts are no joke – but if you’re only staying with your partner because it’ll hurt to leave, you’re not in it for the right reasons and it’s best to move on before the attachment gets more severe.

The moral of the story: Needing someone isn’t a bad thing. But if you’re only staying because of the need, you may need to re-evaluate your relationship.


I want you

This is a statement of choice. Whether you mean to say that you want your partner to stay in your life, or it means that you want to be physically intimate with them, the overall leaning is the same. You choose this person, and they make you happy.

Generally speaking, wanting someone is better than needing someone. With “need”, there’s a sense of obligation, which can lead us to feeling trapped.

However, with “want”, we are confirming that it is a desire of ours that this person be a part of whatever we want them to be a part of.

It’s best if you want your partner physically and emotionally, although there are really no “wrong” answers in a relationship as long as the people involved are all happy. Other people’s opinions of our private lives can be factored into the decision, but as long as you’re happy – who else really matters?

The moral of the story: Wanting someone and being wanted by the same person is a wonderful feeling, and usually one of the prerequisites for a relationship to proceed. However, there are still other factors to consider.


I love you

This is much deeper, but it doesn’t always mean that the relationship will last. When you love someone, you invite them to stay in your life, despite their flaws and their shortcomings. Think of your family, for example. If you love a family member, you are willing to look past the things they’ve done – even if these things are directly against you.

I have a few family members who have stolen things from me – jewellery, money, even a few girlfriends. (Not all the same family member, by the way.) Would I trust them with that part of my life again? No chance in hell! But I still love them because they are a part of who I am.

It’s the same in your relationships. Loving someone is helpful to a healthy relationship, but it doesn’t always guarantee that the relationship is healthy.

The actions within the relationship will dictate how the relationship plays out.

The moral of the story: It’s pretty much guaranteed that you’re going to love someone you’re serious about – but that still doesn’t mean they’re right for you.


I respect you

This is the most powerful of all the statements that can be made by a partner. However, unlike the other statements, it doesn’t get its value from literally saying the words – it gets through by your actions in the relationship.

If you respect your partner, you think of them when you are making your decisions. If there’s something to do that you enjoy, that they don’t like you doing – you don’t do it. It’s not about them controlling you, it’s about wanting to make them happy. When you respect your partner, their desires become just as important as yours.

Respecting your partner also means that you treat them right. You don’t have to be perfect, but respect entails that you give it an effort. If she knows you respect and value her, she knows she has a good thing going.

Respect also deals with your partner’s actions toward you. For example, if she buys you gifts, you let her know that you appreciate the gesture. Feeling appreciated in your relationship is one of the most freeing things you can feel. Often, that’s what we really want most – someone who takes us as seriously as we take ourselves.

The moral of the story: Of all the sentiments you can express in your relationship, it’s most important that you let your lady know you respect and appreciate her, and that she is priceless to you.


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Author
Barbara is a 26-year-old lesbian living in California with her partner (and their “fur babies” - an adorably chubby puppy named Porkchop and a ball python named Ru). In the spare time she pretends to have, she enjoys horror movies, music of all varieties, reading, and complaining about the weather.

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