In my psychology class we just finished discussing a unit on motivation. Of course, we spent time discussing Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, but specifically we looked at the need for belonging. In simple terms, this includes the need to feel loved and have positive relationships in our lives. That makes sense, right? Obviously humans need the love of friends and a group to which they belong. This whole idea is very real and tangible in my life at the moment, so I decided to share my thoughts with you.
If you’ve been following my blog for very long you probably have gathered that I’m not the most outgoing or sociable person; I very much prefer to keep to myself most of the time. Now don’t get me wrong. I have a few close friends, and without them I would be even more of a mess than I already am! They mean the world to me, even the ones with whom I’m just beginning a friendship. In other words, I understand this “need for belonging”. What I’m writing about here is when this need becomes an obsession.
Although I cherish my alone time and feel awkward in most social settings, I have an (at times) insatiable desire to feel wanted. It’s not that my friends don’t show me enough love and support, because they never let me down. It’s when someone I’m not already close to catches my eye that problems ensue. Have you ever met someone, or maybe only made eye contact a few times and you automatically thought, “That person has to be my friend. I have to get to know them because somehow I know we’re meant to be best friends”? It’s like going back to 6th grade when everyone had those tiny vacillating crushes on each other. Except this time, I can’t change my mind. Something about this person overwhelmed me and now my mind can not seem to let the issue go.
The problem here, in case it isn’t obvious, is that the person doesn’t always have the clarity of prophecy that you do, and they’re not always willing to jump right into a friendship. Maybe the two of you are in that weird situation where you’ve known each other from afar for some time now, but you’ve never had a decent conversation, so of course it would be strange to start now. Or it could be that you just met each other, and she’s not quite as friendly as you, or he isn’t ready to go for it yet. Best friends take time to form, right? It can be difficult to accept this if the desire to feel wanted by this person takes over your every thought.
For me, it’s not always that I’m so fascinated by this person, but more that I feel a strong need to be wanted by them. You know that feeling, right? Sometimes I get to the point where I feel as though I’d do anything if it meant that I’d earn their approval, that they’d want to include me. (I would never actually be like that though. I’m not insane.) Usually when this happens, the other person is “cooler” than me to some degree. We all know I can be very awkward, so it’s a satisfying feeling to be included by someone who would normally look right over you.
My question is, why do we get these feelings? Why such a severe need for belonging? Is it because we want to fit in with the so-called popular people? And is it okay to have such a strong desire to be wanted? From what I gathered in Psychology, it’s natural. In my opinion, as long as you don’t let your emotions get the better of you and your decision making, everything should be fine in the end. I’ve asked my friends for advice, and I always end up hearing something along the lines of, “You just have to let it go eventually. Especially if you can tell it won’t work out”. Maybe they’re right. I can’t help but be ever hopeful though. After all, I just want another good friend. Is that too much to ask? 🙂