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Wantvs.Need

Kara Loewentheil, J.D.
Kara Loewentheil, J.D. Master Certified Coach
9mo New York, NY, United States Story
Want vs. Need

Today I want to teach you one of my favorite tools for revolutionizing your love life. This strategy works whether you’re on a first date or have been married for 20 years. In fact, it works well for non-dating relationships, too. I call it want vs. need.

The current self-help-y, empowerment literature is full of the idea that people should meet each other’s needs. In this line of thinking, telling other people what your needs are and how they should meet them is supposed to be empowering.

I think this is exactly backwards, y’all.

What this framework does is tell you the way to feel good is to tell everyone what you want them to do, and then give them the power to determine your emotional state based on how much they do it. Except you call it a “need” so they are at fault if they don’t do it.

Here’s the problem: How does it feel when you tell yourself that you need someone else to act in a certain way? Does it feel amazing and empowering?

Not so much.

This is what feeling “needy” is. When you say you feel “needy,” it’s because you’re telling yourself that someone else must act a certain way for you to feel ok—so you’re feeling disempowered and desperate for them to do it.

When you’re feeling anxious or unhappy about someone else’s behavior, the solution is not to figure out exactly what you want them to do differently so you can try to force them to do it. You only want them to act differently so you can think and feel differently anyway—and you can decide to think differently no matter how they act.

Here’s what I think is the most backwards part of all this:

We’re told making other people meet our needs is how we build intimacy. We tell them how we want them to behave, then if they behave that way, we can feel close to them.

This is bonkers! When you try to manipulate how other people act, you aren’t creating intimacy or closeness, and you’re not relating to the person for who they are. You’re using them as an emotional vending machine. It’s all about you, not about them.

If you want to truly experience intimacy and the joy of connection, meet your own needs. Create your own validation. When you do that, you can just enjoy other people for who they are. If you don’t feel connection and love, it’s not because someone else isn’t meeting your needs. It’s because you aren’t meeting your own needs or managing your mind. You aren’t creating that loving relationship with yourself.

Now here’s the most common objection I get when I teach this:

“But then people can just treat me however they want, and I’ll be a doormat!”

First, people can already treat you however they want, and they do, because they have free will, same as you. And yet you often stick around anyway. Why?

Because you want them to meet your needs! You have told yourself you can only feel ok if they do what you want. So you end up trying to chase down validation from people who obviously aren’t that interested in you.

If you know you can feel how you want no matter what, there’s no reason to chase down validation. You don’t get sucked in. If you’re providing and creating validation for yourself, you’ll find you’re much less interested in hanging around with people who aren’t into the same kind of vibe you are. Why bother? That’s why if you meet your own needs, you get more discerning about your relationships, not less.

So that’s the crash course in how to never feel needy again. Your needs aren’t needs, they are just wants. And they don’t control your feelings.

Meet your own emotional needs and enjoy other people for who they truly are. You’ll get so much better at selecting for quality and attracting the right people than you are now!


6 replies

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  • Bethany Heinrich
    Bethany Heinrich Mogul Influencer
    9mo ago New York, NY, United States

    @Elizabeth Stone I thought this was such an interesting perspective on relationships. Do you find the above to be true as well? Thank you so much for sharing @Kara Loewentheil, J.D.!

    @Elizabeth Stone I thought this was such an interesting perspective on relationships. Do you find the above to be true as well? Thank you so much for sharing @Kara Loewentheil, J.D.!

    • Elizabeth Stone
      Elizabeth Stone Founder and CEO of AttractTheOne.com
      9mo ago

      She's spot on. 


      We really only NEED food and water. The more people think about whether their partner is meeting their "needs" the more they upset themselves.

      She's spot on. 


      We really only NEED food and water. The more people think about whether their partner is meeting their "needs" the more they upset themselves.

      • Kara Loewentheil, J.D.
        Kara Loewentheil, J.D. Master Certified Coach
        9mo ago New York, NY, United States

        Lol yup! I also include shelter in places where it snows. :) 

        Lol yup! I also include shelter in places where it snows. :) 

        • Elizabeth Stone
          Elizabeth Stone Founder and CEO of AttractTheOne.com
          9mo ago

          haha. I KNOW I was forgetting something. :)

          haha. I KNOW I was forgetting something. :)

  • Elizabeth Stone
    Elizabeth Stone Founder and CEO of AttractTheOne.com
    9mo ago

    This is awesome, @Kara Loewentheil, J.D.! I would love to republish it at my site, AttractTheOne.com-- with your author bio and links back here. Let me know what you think, I know my audience would benefit. 

    This is awesome, @Kara Loewentheil, J.D.! I would love to republish it at my site, AttractTheOne.com-- with your author bio and links back here. Let me know what you think, I know my audience would benefit. 


Kara Loewentheil, J.D.
Master Certified Coach

I'm a former lawyer and now a Master Certified Coach. I work with high-achieving women who believe in empowerment, but don't always feel empowered. I teach my clients how to overcome social conditioning and their own self-critical thoughts so that they can create more confidence and get what they [...]

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