November 8, 2012 by
Categories: Relationships

Belonging is a fundamental need. This finding has been replicated by many researchers across many different disciplines aimed at understanding the motivations behind human behaviors.

What does it mean that belonging is a fundamental need? It means that we can survive without belonging but that we cannot thrive without it. People who feel as if they belong experience greater physical, mental, and overall well-being than individuals who do not. In fact, the absence of that feeling  is one of the most detrimental blows to our well-being.

Have you ever noticed, though, how hard it is to express our need to belong? To tell someone that we need them or even to acknowledge that we are needed by our partners, children, family, and close friends?

I am not exactly sure where this difficulty to express this need came from. Maybe from living in a culture in which independence, success, and strength is so strongly emphasized? Or, maybe from being burned in a relationship one time too many?

Whatever the reason, we need to express our need to belong.

We need to tell our partners, children, family, and close friends how important they are  in our lives. That we are capable of existing without them but that we do no want to because we realize how difficult the alternative would be.

Yes, there is a chance that we will be hurt by the ones that we want to experience that feeling of belonging with. Yes, it takes coming from a vulnerable place to express such an important need. But it is worth it. Think about the moments in your life when you have had that need expressed to you or you have expressed it yourself. How powerful was that moment?

The therapy room is a place where people choose to discuss their relationships and the impact that those relationships have on their lives. I can say that being a therapist and working with clients from all walks of life has shown me the truth behind the fundamental need to belong.

A profession of our need to belong or the acknowledgement of another person’s need is not something that requires a lot of words. Sometimes it only requires a look, a touch, or just simply, “I value you. My life would not be the same without you.”


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