What are Relational needs?
They are our emotional necessities that are met through social connections.
Being socially connected is the experience of feeling close to and connected to others. This is one of the most fundamental aspects of human life. It involves feeling loved, cared for, valued and appreciated. This is different from the need for survival and physical safety which Maslow bases his hierarchy of human needs on.
We all have a desire to belong. Our lives revolve around social interactions and the maintenance of our interpersonal relationships. We experience these needs from cradle to grave, often out of awareness. Being in a relationship with others offers security, attachment, guidance, validation and reassurance of worth. How we connect to others and how we are accepted by those whose opinions we value significantly impact our emotions, self-beliefs and underlies fundamental behaviours, which play an important part in both our physical and psychological well-being and mental health.
Problems occur when our relational needs are not currently being met, or if they were not adequately met in our early development stages. The consequence of this can be reflected as feelings of emptiness, longing, loneliness, frustration, anger, aggression, depression, loss of energy and hope. As a way of explaining our inner distress we develop self-beliefs that become entrenched internally, such as ”There’s nobody there for me, there’s no use trying, or nobody can be trusted.”. In every human culture studied we see the pain of banishment and isolation as the most severe form of punishment. Solitary confinement in correctional institutions is an example
Relational needs include;
Feeling secure in our relationships, feeling accepted so we can express ourselves without being ridiculed or shamed.
Feeling appreciated and respected not just for what we can do but for who we are, rather than feeling dismissed or devalued
.Feeling like we are able to affect another in some way and have the impact acknowledged
Feeling accepted by a dependable and protective other, either from a parent, mentor or peer, for encouragement guidance and support.
Feelings of mutuality, to be with someone who is similar or alike in some way, someone who understands us because they have been in a similar situation.
Self-definition to feel unique and have the others accept and respect that uniqueness.
We like to feel that whoever we are in a relationship with can initiate contact and express care, love and affection, so it doesn’t always feel one way.
Studies now report that a significant number of people in developed countries are lonely and feel isolated which is a significant cause of depression and unhappiness. Loneliness is higher among those aged under 25 and over 65, 10% report feeling lonely all or most of the time. This raises questions about our social structures and how self-perception/ identity has changed over the years. It high- lights how necessary it is to reach out to others and stay connected. If this topic resonates or impacts you in any way, I would love to hear your experience and how it has affected you.
Be well, Be kind and connect with others Pip x