Satisfy Your Love And Belonging Needs

Medically reviewed by Lauren Fawley
Updated February 20, 2024by BetterHelp Editorial Team

Content Warning: Please note that the following content discusses topics related to abuse, child neglect, attachment, and other potentially triggering topics. Read with discretion. 

Many individuals find themselves desiring to feel loved and wanted by those in their life. This desire might be part of what psychologists call "love and belonging needs." Studies show that social connection is essential for mental and physical well-being, and feeling cared for by those in your life can be a part of social connection.

Learn how to satisfy your belonging needs

Why people need love

Compared to most other animals, humans can take more time to mature. During the formative years, we depend on our parents or caregivers to meet our survival needs. Survival needs can include food, shelter, water, sleep, and oxygen. At the end of adolescence, we might start learning to care for our own survival needs. However, caregivers might still support us into early adulthood. 

A safe and healthy caregiver works to keep a child safe. Safety needs are considered the most basic needs, and if they are not met, it may be difficult for someone to reach self-actualization—the result of consistent and stable personal growth. Abraham Maslow created a theory of human motivation structured into a hierarchy of needs to discuss this principle. Maslow's hierarchy of needs has been further debated and tested in modern social psychology, and many psychologists agree that love and belonging are on the pyramid somewhere.  

The Psychological Bulletin claims that love and belonging needs are essential in human motivation. Many scientists believe that these needs arose through the evolutionary process. You may bond with the person who takes care of you to survive. Even as a baby, you might behave in ways that encourage their support and prompt care. 

As you grow, love and belonging can still feel essential. You might cherish your friendships, love your partner, and enjoy spending time with others. Even after you become an adult and can take care of yourself, these needs can continue because they are part of being human. If your caregiver did not meet some of your needs as a child, you might have an insecure attachment style as an adult. 

What happens when love and belonging needs aren't met? 

*Disclaimer: If you are facing or witnessing abuse of any kind, the National Domestic Violence Hotline is available 24/7 for support. Call 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) or text "START" to 88788. You can also use the online chat

In some cases, infant, teen, and children's needs are not met by their caregivers. A parent might fail to show physical affection, love, or emotional support in these cases. They may abandon or physically abuse their child.*

As children age, challenges with social connection might arise. Their peers may reject them at school. A parent or teacher may fail to give them the emotional support they need to feel loved, accepted, and valued. Their performance in school might suffer from not feeling safe at home. A child's needs not being met can also have mental health consequences. For example, an unhealthy family environment can cause a higher risk for depression and other mental health conditions. 

Adults may feel this rejection later in life from their social circle. They might struggle to make friends, have difficulty trusting others, or feel lonely if they do not have contact with their caregivers. In some cases, they may try to reach out to their caregivers for love and be treated similarly to when they were children. 

The results of not having your needs met can vary. Maslow noted that if these social needs were not met, it could lead to illness, especially psychiatric disorders like depression and anxiety. Studies confirm this, as a lack of social connection is correlated with physical health risks.

Benefits of satisfying love and belonging needs

When your basic needs are met, you may avoid risks of mental health concerns or health problems. However, unmet needs are not the only factors in these conditions. Additionally, you may feel less alone and happier and know you have support behind you. Because you have strong connections, meeting your other needs might feel more accessible. Other benefits of support can include: 

  • Feeling loved 
  • Confidence 
  • Ease completing chores and daily tasks
  • A sense of safety 
  • Happiness

Where to find love and belonging

Love and belonging can come from many sources. People may meet these needs through: 

  • Friendships
  • Family time
  • Social activities
  • Romantic relationships
  • Community activities, projects, and events

If your needs aren't met, consider the following ways of increasing love and belonging in your life. 

Build friendships

Meeting people can feel challenging for many individuals, especially if they faced hardships in early-life relationships. Additionally, work, school, and other responsibilities might get in the way of finding new friends as an adult. Here are a few ways you can try to do so: 

  • Volunteer on your off time 
  • Join a social cause 
  • Join a non-profit 
  • Go to an event, such as pride, the fair, or a renaissance event 
  • Try a group activity like e-sports, sports, or LARPing 
  • Join online groups 
  • Find a pen pal 
  • Go to a local meetup 
  • Go to a local bar event 
  • Enroll in university and join a university club 
  • Join a music group like a choir 
  • Join a tabletop gaming campaign 

Nurture romantic relationships

If you're in a romantic relationship and feel your needs haven't been met, consider discussing this with your partner. You might decide to take a love languages test together to learn more about how each of you shows and receives love. 

Expand your social sphere

When you don't feel love and belonging, you might feel stuck with the friends or people in your life currently. It may be beneficial to try to make new types of friends outside of your current circle. 

Spend time with family

Life may get busy, and you might not spend much time with family. Try to spend time with your immediate, extended, or chosen family when you can. Sit down for meals with your household, attend family reunions, and try to get to know your family more profoundly. If your immediate family has been unhealthy for you, you might consider your friends or extended relatives as part of your chosen family. 

Get involved in your community

By getting involved with your community, you might make new friends, help others who live near you and learn about social causes. Consider joining a volunteer organization or helping a non-profit set up for an event. 

Volunteering could be a meaningful way to find acceptance, love, and belonging within your community. Many people volunteer at hospitals, nursing homes, orphanages, or mental health centers. Additionally, studies show that helping others could help you feel better.

Learn how to satisfy your belonging needs

Take a class

Classes can be fun and rewarding. Choose any class that appeals to you, whether it's an academic subject, like psychological science, a creative course, or a fitness class. While there, you can meet other people interested in the subject that caught your eye. 

Join a sports team

Being on a sports team may allow you to work with other people while enjoying exercise, which has mental and physical health benefits. 

Talk to a counselor

Despite the methods of meeting love and belonging needs, many people may struggle to do so. Past adverse experiences, difficulty socializing, anxiety, or difficulty trusting others can cause rifts. Additionally, some individuals might struggle to make friends due to bullying, disabilities, or being "different." In these cases, it might be beneficial to talk to a counselor. 

In a study published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research, the effects of online cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) when treating individuals experiencing depression and anxiety found significant positive results post-treatment. Cognitive-behavioral therapy, whether online or in-person, can work by helping individuals reframe any negative thought patterns that may be underlying unwanted emotions.

If you find socializing with a therapist a scary or difficult concept, you might benefit from the option of live chat sessions with a licensed therapist. You can also choose between phone or video chat sessions if they feel more comfortable. If you're interested in trying online therapy, consider signing up for a platform like BetterHelp for individuals or Regain for couples.  

Takeaway

Making connections can be essential for human health and well-being. However, specific barriers can arise that cause needs not to be met throughout life. You might benefit from reaching out to social organizations or making new friends in these cases. Or, you can try signing up for counseling with an online or in-person therapist to gain further professional insight. 

Receive compassionate guidance in love

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