The Difference Between Wanting Someone And Needing Them

It’s hard to tell the difference between wanting someone because they’ll actually be good for you, and needing someone because you feel like that’s how you’ll be happier.

Lucky for you, there are ways to tell. Don’t do it until you truly just want them, and no longer need them.

Needing Is Desperate, Wanting Is Empowered

woman extending fist to camera
Photo Credit: Brooke Lark / Unsplash
Photo Credit: Brooke Lark / Unsplash

There is a sense of empowerment that comes with knowing that your life doesn’t revolve around looking for that special someone. You’re going on about your best life, working on yourself, your goals, and career, and if someone happens to catch your eye along the way, then great.

Needing them comes from a desperate place where you feel like you can’t be happy or accomplish your goals if you don’t have them.

Needing Someone Is Codependence. Wanting Them Is Love

couple embraces on beach
Photo Credit: Christiana Rivers / Unsplash
Photo Credit: Christiana Rivers / Unsplash

You don’t fall into this neediness as a conscious decision. It’s usually an overlooked outcome of gradual dependence on someone. You slowly intertwine your routine, and one day, you realize you don’t know how to even go about your day without them.

If you only want them from the beginning, you avoid going down the road to codependence. You have a pre-existing notion of the kind of life and everyday that you want to lead with or without them.

Needing Someone Is Needing Validation. Wanting Them Is Knowing You’re Worthy

woman runs finger through her hair
Photo Credit: Caique Silva / Unsplash
Photo Credit: Caique Silva / Unsplash

If you know you’re worthy, you shouldn’t need anyone to prove to you that you’re lovable, or to validate your existence. You need someone when you need a confidence boost, need to be complimented and reassured.

If you already know your self-worth, then it’s a lot easier to only want those who appreciate it and see it.

Needing Is Taking What You Get. Wanting Is Setting Standards

no trespassing signs on rails
Photo Credit: Michael Dziedzic / Unsplash
Photo Credit: Michael Dziedzic / Unsplash

When you need someone, you often find yourself settling. You start compromising on your own standards for the kind of lifestyle you want, the goals you had set for yourself, and even the way you deserve to be treated.

You start to say yes to things you would’ve never wanted or agreed to just to please someone. Before long, you realize what you thought you “needed” doesn’t even make you happy.

Wanting Is Standing Your Ground. Needing Is Caving

man standing atop a mountain
Photo Credit: Sadeq Mousavi / Unsplash
Photo Credit: Sadeq Mousavi / Unsplash

Feeling like you need someone, you may begin to make unhealthy compromises. You start to ignore the red flags on purpose and always find a way to justify their behavior. You find yourself apologizing even when you’re not in the wrong, and you bend over backward to meet their demands.

When you know you want someone, you look for an equal who will respect your wants and needs just as much as you do theirs.

Wanting Is Equally Taking. Needing Is Constantly Giving

woman cupping flower in her hands
Photo Credit: Lina Trochez / Unsplash
Photo Credit: Lina Trochez / Unsplash

A healthy relationship is about equal give and take. When you feel like you need someone, you just give and give because you so badly want to keep them no matter what, even if you’re barely getting anything in return.

When you know what you want, you also know how to ask for it, and you don’t accept anything less.

Needing Is Always Blaming. Wanting Is Taking Action

man pointing finger
Photo Credit: Rodolpho Zanarado / Pexels
Photo Credit: Rodolpho Zanarado / Pexels

Misery loves company. In a needy relationship, we blame all our misery on our partner because can’t understand why else we’re not getting what we thought we “wanted.” In reality, this means that we didn’t know what we wanted in the first place.

We unfairly blame our negative emotions on a partner. When we finally figure out what we want, we find the courage to do something about ourselves.

Needing Constantly Is Suffocating. Wanting Is Liberating

woman enjoying freedom at the beach, looking out to sunset
Photo Credit: Fuu / Unsplash
Photo Credit: Fuu / Unsplash

When you need someone, you put a lot of pressure on them, too, because of your constant need for their time, support, and validation. Eventually, that becomes suffocating.

When the relationship is based on wanting, you find a lot of freedom in being by yourself when they’re not there, and in supporting and validating yourself.

You Forget How To Exist Alone In Neediness

woman sits by the window on chair, looking sad
Photo Credit: Anthony Tran / Unsplash
Photo Credit: Anthony Tran / Unsplash

In a relationship based on need, you lose your independence and agency as a human being. even if that’s not true at first, you eventually become completely reliant on someone else to the point that you lose your ability to complete simple and basic tasks by yourself.

You forget how to even be alone with your thoughts or what life was like before you met them. You become governed by the fear of having to be without them.

“I Can’t Live Without You” Vs. “I Can Live Without You, But I Choose Not To”

man and woman in field kiss
Photo Credit: Allef Vinicius / Unsplash
Photo Credit: Allef Vinicius / Unsplash

These words can make or break a relationship. Love should be out of choice, not out of need. You choose to be with someone because they are the best possible fit for your life. You choose to leave them when you realize you chose wrong.

Needing Is To Complete You. Wanting Is To Complement You

man and woman cook together in the kitchen
Photo Credit: Becca Tapert / Unsplash
Photo Credit: Becca Tapert / Unsplash

Wanting someone means you have already created a life for yourself in which you are happy and wish for someone to add on to it. Needing someone means you feel a void in your life and believe and adding someone to it would fill it.

Spoiler alert: it doesn’t.

Needing Turns Toxic. Wanting Sets Boundaries

woman in the foreground giving
Photo Credit: Vera Arsic / Pexels
Photo Credit: Vera Arsic / Pexels

You compromise as someone in a needy relationship, and ironically, your needs become a target for someone to take advantage of you. You set unhealthy expectations and the relationship that often turns toxic and unbalanced quickly.

When you know what you want, you set boundaries to protect yourself and your desires.

Needing Gets You Stuck. Wanting Makes It Easier To Walk Away

man walks up an empty street in rural setting
Photo Credit: Tegan Mierle / Unsplash
Photo Credit: Tegan Mierle / Unsplash

Needing someone binds you to them even when you know they’re not good for you or for your happiness. You end up feeling stuck in your routine and feel too afraid to walk away.

Walking away is still hard when you want them, but much easier.

Needing Is Putting Up A Front. Wanting Is Really Being Yourself

woman in field holds a mirror blocking her face and reflecting the field
Photo Credit: Noah Busher / Unsplash
Photo Credit: Noah Busher / Unsplash

You say all the right of the things and present yourself in the way that you think they’d like best because you’re afraid that they’ll leave you if you don’t.

When you just want them, you’re not afraid to be completely yourself, and if they want you, then great

Needing Leads To Possessiveness. Wanting Makes It Easier To Trust

close up of two people holding hands
Photo Credit: Roman Kraft / Unsplash
Photo Credit: Roman Kraft / Unsplash

When you need them, you end up obsessing over them a lit bit. You constantly doubt yourself, them, and the relationship. This creates trust issues which lead to possessiveness. It’s a vicious cycle.

When you know what you want, you take a risk to get it and know you’d be fine without it. It’s a lot easier to trust that way.

Needing Rushes. Wanting Takes Its Time

older man kisses his wife on the cheek
Photo Credit: Esther Ann / Unsplash
Photo Credit: Esther Ann / Unsplash

You get caught up too quickly in a needy relationship. You rush into the first person you think fulfills your needs.

Knowing what you want and figuring out if the right person fits those wants takes time. This makes a relationship move more steadily and usually ends up with healthier and longer-lasting results.

Needing Is Getting Caught In A Fantasy. Wanting Is Work

illustration of woman underwater in wedding dress
Photo Credit: Alice Alinari / Unsplash
Photo Credit: Alice Alinari / Unsplash

When you base a relationship on needs, you fit the wrong person into your life and build a fantasy in your head about the potential of how it could work out. This is usually far from reality and results in great disappointment when it doesn’t work.

Wanting it means you’re willing to put in the work and effort to make it work.

Needing Is Empty Promises. Wanting Is Reliable

man kisses a promise
Photo Credit: Katrina Holmgren / Unsplash
Photo Credit: Katrina Holmgren / Unsplash

When you need someone, you often lash out at them with empty threats and make empty promises, all in an attempt to keep them bound to you because you can’t bear losing them.

When it’s based on want, you only make promises you know you can follow through on, mostly because you already want and know what you’re working towards. You’re reliable in your emotions, delivery, and behavior.

Needing Is Doubt. Wanting Is Certainty

woman leans into her hands in thought
Photo Credit: Ben White / Unsplash
Photo Credit: Ben White / Unsplash

Needing means constantly doubting yourself, your partner, and your choices. Even with simple tasks like deciding what to watch on Netflix, you feel like your opinion doesn’t matter anyway because you don’t trust or believe in yourself.

Wanting is being certain of what is okay for you, what you’re looking for, and what you at the very least want to watch on TV.

Needing Means You’re Not Ready. Wanting Shows You Are

woman grabs man 's face to kiss him
Photo Credit: Cassie Lopez / Unsplash
Photo Credit: Cassie Lopez / Unsplash

It turns out, the lesson here is that unless you already know what you want, don’t date someone in hopes of figuring it out. It’s more loss than it’s worth. You will end up further from your goal than where you started.

You need to figure out what you want without the influence of a partner and with your own support and confidence. One day, you’ll be ready, and since you won’t be settling for anything less than what you actually want, you will choose someone who is actually good for you.