Love and connection are needs that we all have from the day we are born, right up until the day we die. Here are some examples of gaining/expressing/feeling love and connecting with others. Please remember that what is seen as a positive way of achieving love and connection for one, may be considered negative by another. For growth to happen, we each have to go through this process on our own.
Being in a loving relationship
Research on relationships, health, wealth and well-being proves that those who live for a long time and are happy together are those who stay in their relationship for many years. It can be a relationship with another person or with a whole community. Every time we connect with someone else and the communication or connection is positive, we fill up our love tank.
Sympathy through sickness
Gaining sympathy as a way to get attention and love has its basis in our early years when we got a hug and a kiss every time we were hurt. Some people carry this into their adult lives and make it (unconsciously, of course) a way to seek attention. People often do this even if it means they hurt themselves. In a previous post, I mentioned that people will violate their highest values to fulfill a need. In this case, if this need is not fulfilled and sickness is an option, they go for it.
When we honestly ask ourselves which person in our lives means the most to us, we often find that it is those who, instead of giving advice, solutions, or cures, have chosen rather to share our pain and touch our wounds with a warm and tender hand.
– Henri Nouwen
Investing in friendships
Friendships are the relationships of love and connection that allow us to be ourselves. Emerson once said that “the only way to have a friend is to be one” and by that he explained why when we are friends with someone, we are connected to them and to our true self at the same time. Spending time with someone you care for is the ultimate love and connection, regardless of the circumstances.
Occasional sex or infidelity
The need to connect, feel loved, appreciated, and to have a sense of touch is important to everyone. People are willing to do anything it takes to fulfill this need. Sometimes, a lack of love, connection or physical touch will make people search for it outside of their relationships. Remember, judging them will not make the need disappear.
Doing sport in a team
Any team sport (as opposed to running on your own) is a great opportunity to connect with others who share the same love that you have – the love for a particular sport. Love and connection is achieved by the rapport we have with others.
Buying brand names (to fit in with the Jones)
If you go shopping in order to make yourself happy, than this is a great way for you to love yourself. But buying brand names so that others will love, accept or allow you to fit into their “club” is not going to do you any favors. Whether it be an “age club”, where you want to be perceived as old enough or young enough, or a “status club” where you want to be considered as having a higher status, this is not a good idea. Find out the reason why you buy brand names and it will help you discover what are you are giving up for it.
Doing community work
Community work is an opportunity to connect with others and feel that you are part of the community, society or even the world around you. Giving in general is a good way of connecting. If you do it for all the right reasons, it is healthy and positive and has lots of benefits.
Having a victim mentality (to gain attention)
Some people get attention by being the victim. They look for opportunities to tell stories of suffering and misery in order to gain sympathy. The problem with this approach is that after a while of “playing” the victim game, you end up believing you are a victim.
Having faith or religion or following a spiritual path (connection to Nature and/or God)
Any faith, religion or spiritual belief is meant to help us find our place and connect with the world around us. Even though some religions claim ownership of faith and belief, true believers know it is a relationship between themselves and their own God. Rumi is one of my favorite poets and I learned about him from my dad, who was his fan as well. Here is his definition of faith:
You are a volume in the divine book
A mirror to the power that created the universe
Whatever you want, ask it of yourself
Whatever you’re looking for can only be found
Inside of you
Working late to please the boss
The desire to please others is sometimes forced upon us. Compromise is necessary because we cannot always have everything we want, when we want it and the way we want it. But it is important to be careful not to compromise our values in the process. For example, for some people, family is a higher value and being with their kids overrides their desire to please the boss. Make sure your desire to please the boss does not interfere with your children.
Stay in contact with friends and family (birthdays, phone calls, emails or gatherings)
Making an effort to keep in touch with family and friends is a wonderful way to express your desire to be stay connected with them. Forgetting to keep in touch may be perceived as “he/she does not love me enough”. Many of the clients who come to me for relationship coaching have issues with remembering special dates. They seem to think this is the proof of their or their partner’s love. While it is not a good idea to measure love this way, it is best to remember the important dates! With all the new technology and gadgets we have today, no birthday, anniversary or special occasion should be forgotten.
The disease to please
People’s insecurities often create a ‘disease to please’. For example, my mom grew up in a culture where pleasing others was the aim in life. Be they people older than you like your husband or in laws, or people in authority like your boss, this was life’s purpose. For some, this is a cultural thing and for others it is learned. Regardless, it is always in conflict with our desire to connect to ourselves and make our own judgment. The problem with it is that the price is always high. We sacrifice our own needs in order to please others.
Acts of kindness
Any act of kindness, towards those you know and even those you do not know, gives a sense of belonging to the world around you. Research shows people who are kind to others are happier and healthier. As part of my coaching program, I encourage my clients to do acts of kindness in order for them to learn to love themselves. It works 100% of the time. If you need ideas, check www.randomactsofkindness.org.
Joining a gang (to fit in)
Joining any kind of group fulfills our desire to have a sense of belonging. This need is so high that some people will join any group that is willing to accept them, even if they know it is not a healthy group to associate with. This is often the case with children who join gangs or start associating with other children who take drugs or steal. If you want to fix it, try not to judge. Remember that the best way to get them back onto the right path is to try to fulfill their need for love and connection in a different way.
Being a good team player
Being in a group that requires collaboration is a good way to practice our rapport skills. Those who are better team players will be more loved and others will seek their friendship and attention. Team playing skills are required in the family, at work, at school and in many group interactions.
Getting tattoos or piercings (“everyone else does”)
Many people today use tattoos and piercing to fit in and be accepted, or to be perceived as “cool”, “part of the group”, “old enough”, “with the right attitude”. It is not exactly a modern phenomenon. I remember when I was 8 years old, and I wanted to be like everyone else. I was willing to let my neighbor pierce my ears using a needle, just so I could fit in. It was pretty painful, and I knew it was going to be, but the desire to be like everyone else was much stronger. Again, do not judge. We all do these types of things from time to time. Address the need and see if it can be fulfilled in another way.
I suppose leadership at one time meant muscles; but today it means getting along with people.
– Mahatma Gandhi
Being a leader
Leadership is a very powerful way to connect with others. It requires a level of rapport, responsibility and caring for the followers and no one can be a leader without having followers. You can be a leader in the community, at work or even in your own home. Leading your kids towards a happy, healthy, loving and caring lifestyle, can assure them of lots of love and connection in the future.
Attractive at all costs (Make up, diet, waxing, hair extensions, plastic surgery)
Fitting in is part of our desire to be accepted in the community. As we are bombarded by magazines, TV, movies and commercials that promote a particular standard for beauty, some people are trapped in this desire to fit in. There is nothing problematic in trying to be attractive by using make up, going on a diet, changing hair color or having extensions. Not even having plastic surgery to change something you do not like. After all, we do not choose our body features and it is Ok to prefer to look differently. The problem is in doing it at all costs or being obsessive about it.
Hug and kiss friends and family
Physical touch is a wonderful way to connect with others, to show or receive love. Hugging and kissing is a give and take act: when you give, you receive. It is free and does not consume a lot of energy. Research on physical touch found out that it has a direct connection to health and well-being. A lack of it can easily lead to depression.
Physical violence or force
Physical connection is so important to us that some people will try and “take” it violently. People who do not get enough physical touch will take it by force, even if the only way they know how is to hit someone else. It is not always bad. Kids in the playground get this touch through play, by being a bit more physical or bumping into each other. This is considered a healthier way to receive touch.
Giving gifts is one of the ways in which people express love (known as a love language). Remember that the connection here is in the giving, not in the gifts itself. You do not even have to buy a gift. Sometimes your presence is the gift.
Attempted suicide (to gain attention or voice pain)
Attempted suicides are often a cry for help. The person making the attempt cannot find a way out of their situation and they are trying to get attention. It is definitely not healthy and the biggest problem is if they succeed, it may be too late to help them.
Pursue group hobbies
Any hobby done in a group contributes to “love and connection”. A group of people who share a common love for something spend time together and develop rapport skills.
Use treats and bullying to test love
Buying someone’s love or testing it by bullying them are very problematic ways of gaining love and connection. The person being manipulated will reach a point where they are aware of the manipulation. Instead of their love growing over time, their resentment grows.
Having a pet
Pets are a wonderful way to show love and receive love. Research on elders with pets discovered that it helped them feel less lonely and even extended their lives.
There are good ways and not so good ways of showing love and connecting to others. Whatever ways we choose to use, they must be in constant balance with our need to be special and ‘different’ or unique. We each determine our own, individual balance. Only we can know how special or loved we need to feel.
Join me next week for the last 2 emotional needs: Growth and Contribution. These two needs are not in conflict with any other need. I will give examples on ways we can all grow.
Until next time, love a lot!
This post is part of the series Six Human Needs: