Peter Kane – Relationship Theorist and author "The Monogamy Challenge"

Is It Healthy to Need?

Learning to accept and embrace the validity of what we want or need has long been a central theme of my work. Becoming conscious of how our needs have been ignored, neglected and even shamed, has far reaching effects. Being ashamed for what we need is an aspect of feeling ashamed for being alive or existing. Addressing the validity of our needs can provide a doorway into healing unworthiness and remembering our value. Accepting that we have human needs that are normal and appropriate gives us a starting point to value and validate our importance in the world. Needs are like aspects of ourselves at our most vulnerable and to feel okay about them is to build the knowing that we are okay. Facing the issues of having not gotten our needs met can also help us stop running away from connection. Seeing that we have shut down and withdrawn from recognizing our needs and trying to fulfill them, can give us the ability to truly have “the strength to want.” Addressing our needs can be a helpful way to build intimacy. Needs are building blocks of intimacy.

Here in this blog, I wish to highlight something I have always noticed and tried to address but am feeling even more passionate about right now. I feel there is frequently a prejudice among psycho-spiritual people against needing. Instead of embracing our needs as human, and as necessary as food, sleep and exercise; we favor a preference of independence. We then tell ourselves and each other, that we are supposed to be strong, have good boundaries, and learn to stand on our own two feet.

This is true as are both sides of any issue. It is a good idea to develop our independence and it is a good idea to heal our dependency. But it is valuable to own our own preferences and work with them instead of assuming our preferences to be healthier than other ways of being. It is healthy to embrace our needs and vulnerability, thus developing the strength to want, and the strength to love and voice love.

It is fair to notice that there are times when people operate from an opposite prejudice to this. For example, personal growth circles have often judged withdrawn or aloof energy more that intimate (pleaser) energy. Today, I am calling out the problem with the polarity between independence vs. dependence and suggesting that independence has gained some favor. This could be even more problematic – because we often use a preference for independence to justify running away from our need for connection. Needs can actually be a doorway to the depths of being in real contact with another. Having fear and shame about needing only adds pain and isolation. As we transform on the deepest levels it will be important for us to allow ourselves to need and to embrace our needs as healthy. It may also be necessary to take a stand for what we need and not be driven back into submission of not needing by some ‘boundary’ myth. The myth that it is better to need less can come from wounding just as dependency can.

I have long said that our human desires are both neurotic and divine. This is my playful way of saying that like any topic this is not an either/or issue; things are always both/and. All of our issues, including our desire patterns can be felt and described by many models of relationship. We can talk about them using models ranging from core wounding, to astrology, to life purpose, and all of our insights are important. This means that our needs (and our beloveds) are divine, just as our love is. Both the need for space and the need for connection are valid, human, and nourishing. So, I encourage you to not protect yourself from your hearts desire by judging what you need when you see it in someone else. Embrace them, just as they would benefit from embracing you. This will usually mean that relationships will have a component where one person is embracing the independence and less personal energy of the other, and the other is embracing the vulnerability and desire of the other.

For today I ask if we can let go of unconsciously favoring independence and aloofness, and unconsciously judging neediness or vulnerability? (And what do you need? I will be continuing to share about that, meanwhile I encourage you to look back two blogs where I began this conversation.)

You are important and what you need is important.


  1. This could not be more relevant to my ramblings in my journal today. Thank you so much!

  2. Great article Peter! I do agree that ‘Psycho-Spiritual’ people to have a tendency to snob their needs.. (me included)! 🙂 Thanks for bringing light to this issue! <3

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