Relationships and the Six Human Needs by Teal Swan

Collective Projects, Teal Scott

Humans have six basic needs. Our happiness depends on meeting those needs in healthy ways, autonomously. The inability to meet these needs on our own, in healthy ways, not only determines our attraction to other people, it also prevents us from being able to experience unconditional love as opposed to attachment. The remedy: find ways to meet your needs in healthy ways, autonomously.

No matter what race, sex, or religion we are, no matter where we are born or how we are raised, we, as humans have six basic needs. The word “need” implies the not having of something, so it is not a preferable word to use, but I am using it for the sake of this article because for most humans, the word “desire” means something that is wanted but something that we can do without. But we are not talking about things that can be done without, we are talking about things that are absolutely necessary for a human to live a happy, healthy life; and the word most people associate with necessary is “need”.

Our happiness depends on our ability to rely on ourselves to meet those needs in healthy ways. Our inability to rely on ourselves to meet those needs in healthy ways is what creates the kind of love that we call “attachment”. It is what prevents us from developing a truer form of love, which is unconditional and is free from attachment. The English language limits us because we only have one word to represent and describe a plethora of different states involving our connection to others. That one word is love. But there are many different states that we call love, which do not actually reflect unconditional, universal love. It is important to know up front that not everything you identify as love, is actually love. It is especially important to understand this if you are to understand what is to follow and how the six human needs fits into the picture of love.

In order to understand the six human needs, we need to explore them one by one.

Certainty – This can easily be called the survival need. It is the most primary human need. This need represents our need to be certain that we can avoid pain and gain pleasure. It is the need for safety, stability, comfort and unlimited resources that we can rely on.

Variety – This is the need for change, challenge, excitement and stimulus. Some could argue that it is a paradoxical need to the need for certainty, in that it implies that we need a certain amount of uncertainty in order to be happy with our life.

Significance – This is the need for purpose, importance and meaning. It is the need to be special and worthy of attention. Often, this is called the need for esteem.

Love – This is the need for connection with others. It is the need for a sense of being a part of something. It is the need for a sense of belonging, oneness and the need to be loved as well as to love others. Our need for intimacy falls under this category.

Expansion – This is the need to grow and develop, find fulfillment and self-actualize.

Contribution – This is the need to contribute to that which is beyond you. The need to give and provide something of value outwards towards other people, the world and the universe at large.

We all have different ways of meeting these needs. We meet them in both conscious and subconscious ways. And we feel much more confidant about meeting some of these needs than others. But it is important to understand that we meet these needs (we seek happiness) in both healthy and unhealthy ways. To explain what I mean, let’s look at some healthy and unhealthy ways that we can meet each of these needs.

1. Certainty

Healthy: Creating healthy routines, developing belief systems that serve us, developing consistency, developing beliefs in our own control over our reality, developing a positive identity, engaging in activities we already know we like, gaining information and knowledge, being organized, expecting positive behaviors from yourself, developing an optimistic way of thinking.

Unhealthy: Becoming Obsessive Compulsive, depending on other people to provide it for us, eating disorders, cutting, developing a negative identity, expecting negative behaviors from yourself, becoming controlling of other people and things, obsessive preparation for the worst, rape, murder, war.

2. Variety

Healthy: Learning new things, trying new foods, traveling, finding new hobbies/passions, engaging in stimulating conversations, watching movies we’ve never watched, playing games or sports, reading books we’ve never read, meeting new people, finding new challenges.

Unhealthy: High risk/adrenaline activities, alcohol and drugs, self sabotage, picking fights with significant others when we feel bored, cheating while in monogamous relationships, war.

3. Significance

Healthy: Developing a positive identity, allowing your uniqueness to be expressed to the world, Accomplishing goals, developing a unique sense of style, adopting belief systems that reflect your importance, developing a sense of purpose, seeking out meaning for life and for your own existence, allowing yourself to get notice and distinction in healthy ways.

Unhealthy: Tearing other people down, rescuing others, committing violent acts that get attention, developing a negative identity, attaching to negative diagnosis that you are given, using other people to gain social status, lying in order to seem more impressive to other people, rape, murder, war.

4. Love

Healthy: Sharing, Intimacy, openness, becoming a part of organizations, teams and groups that are healthy, developing compassion, spending time in nature understanding, cultivating an understanding and recognition of oneness, healthy sex, healthy physical affection, exchanging gifts, expressing words of love towards yourself and others, “filling up your own cup”, performing acts of service, spending quality time with others, caring for pets, connecting with yourself, developing spirituality.

Unhealthy: Self-sacrificing, joining gangs, unhealthy sexual interactions, seeking out pity by being sick or having problems consistently, becoming accident prone so others will pay attention to us, people pleasing, rescuing others, causing others to feel as if they need us, rape, murder, joining one side or another during a war.

5. Expansion

Healthy: Healthy challenges, learning, improving upon your current situation, following your bliss, changing, developing new ways to approach problems so that they benefit your growth, listening to other people’s thoughts and taking what serves you from what they say.

Unhealthy: Pushing yourself too hard, never taking the path of least resistance, unhealthy challenges, only learning things the hard way, being unable to listen to other people, letting things get to the breaking point before you improve them, war.

6. Contribution

Healthy: Random acts of kindness, becoming a part of things you believe in, letting your gifts express themselves to this world, helping others when it feels good to do so, carrying out your inspired vision for improvement of this world, giving just because it brings you joy to give, focusing on the solution, joining causes which carry out a solution.

Unhealthy: Becoming the contrast that inspires other people’s expansion into a better place (like Hitler did for world peace) by acting in unhealthy ways towards yourself and the world, focusing on the problem, joining causes which perpetuate the problem, self sacrificing, war.

These are just some ways that we meet our six needs. Everything you ever do, whether it is ultimately beneficial or detrimental, you do for only one reason; because you think it will meet one or more of these six needs. Meeting these needs is what gives rise to the sensation of happiness. So this is why we can also say that the only reason anyone does anything is because they think it will add to their happiness.

Notice that some things we do, meet more than one need. For example, waging war or joining a war is an unhealthy way that we can potentially meet every one of these needs. It is no longer such a mystery why the human race has not been able to stop waging war for thousands of years when we recognize that for many, it meets several of the essential human needs.

It is crucial to our happiness that we meet every one of these six needs. The goal (contrary to popular opinion) is not to rid ourselves of these needs. It is to find out how to provide those needs for ourselves in healthy ways. It is a travesty that humans try to force themselves to not need what they need. Indeed the basis of many world religions is the individual quest to reach a state where we no longer have desires or needs. We come up with this idea that desires and needs are the root of suffering only when we feel incapable of meeting those desires and needs.

But now, I will present the most crucial part of information regarding the six human needs as it applies to relationships.

What most of us call love, is in fact not love. Instead, it is attachment. It is the feeling of needing someone. This thing that we are calling love is the result of the subconscious recognition that another person or thing provides us with a need that we do not feel capable of meeting ourselves, without the presence of that person or thing.

This is what gives rise to the intense biochemical reaction, which we associate with falling in love. It is what forces our positive focus towards them for a time. We, as humans, are in the perpetual search for wholeness. The key to being and feeling complete is to meet these needs in healthy ways on our own. When we are not meeting our needs, we feel incomplete and when we find someone who meets those needs for us, we feel more complete, which is why we so often say we feel more “complete” when we are with the person we are in love with.

And so it must be said that all relationships are co-dependent to some degree until we are able to meet every one of our needs autonomously.

Your happiness seems to depend on them not because you love the other person unconditionally, but because they meet one or more of your needs that you do not feel capable of meeting without them. You are dependent on each other. This is the real reason why “opposites attract”. People with opposing personalities, often have opposing deficiencies and strengths when it comes to meeting their own needs. A person, who feels incapable of creating variety for themselves, will often be attracted to an unpredictable mate because the unpredictable nature of their mate creates that sense of variety and excitement for them. And an unpredictable person will often be attracted to a predictable mate because the predictable nature of their mate creates a sense of certainty and comfort for them, which they feel incapable of creating for themselves. So instead of saying opposites attract, it is more accurate to say that needs attract.

Some forms of this dependency are more obvious and extreme than others. The more extreme forms of dependency are what we traditionally call co-dependent relationships. A traditionally recognized co-dependent relationship is nothing more than a relationship between two people who feel so incapable of meeting their own needs in healthy ways that they are completely dependent on the other person to meet those needs for them. And from the outside, it appears as if the relationship itself is more important to the two people involved than they are to themselves. This is a gross misunderstanding. It isn’t actually possible for anyone to prioritize someone else more than themselves. It only appears this way when we are missing what the person is actually getting as a result of acting as if the other person is the priority. For example: It appears as if people who self sacrifice prioritize other people, but they do not. Their most basic need is the need for love and they are convinced that by self-sacrificing, they are going to get love in return. It is an unhealthy way of meeting that need that they have.

Now it is time to go even deeper.

Our happiness is not the only thing that is dependent upon our ability to meet those needs autonomously. Our ability to truly love unconditionally is in fact dependent upon our ability to meet those needs in healthy ways, autonomously. Most people fear that if we meet all of our own needs, there will be no purpose for relationships. We fear that we will end up alone and no longer love other people. When the truth is exactly the opposite. Our attachment to them will cease to exist because our happiness will not be dependent on them and what they do or don’t do, which means that we will be free to love them and ourselves unconditionally. Only then will we experience what true, universal love is.

Nothing causes our personal and universal expansion more than relationships. The reason is that as we go from relationship to relationship, looking for a sense of completeness, they inevitably point us back to ourselves. The answer they are all pointing to remains the same. And the answer is: you. You are what you are looking for in other people. Need implies a sense of lacking something you desire intensely, something you cannot do without. And so, no matter how many relationships you develop, as long as you still need something from them, they must fall short. It is universal law that they can only reflect back that same sense of lack to you. And so you will search for other people to fill that need and every one of them will fall short until you stop and begin to provide that need for yourself in healthy ways.

It is not your job to deny yourself of your six needs. Even the most enlightened being in existence has these same needs. The enlightened being has simply perfected the art of meeting those needs for himself or herself in healthy ways. And now it is your turn to determine how you are currently meeting those needs. It is your turn to replace the unhealthy ways that you are meeting those needs with healthy ways of meeting those same needs. When you do this, you will no longer feel a sense of lack. And your relationships will be a source of joy instead of pain.

Teal Swan ,”The Spiritual Catalyst” is a well known Esoteric,  Extrasensory who writes and speaks publicly about spirituality, the meaning of life, God, The Higher Self and the road to health and happiness. Teal is part of the first 1980s wave of indigo children.Teal has become a spiritual leader, utilizing her extrasensory abilities to educate people about the united, energetic nature of this universe and to teach people how to find both health and bliss in the midst of even the most extreme circumstances. Her book, The Sculptor in the Sky, is available on Amazon, and at most major book retailers.

To find out more about Teal’s life, workshops, teachings, and extrasensory abilities, visit

Or visit her YouTube channel:


8 thoughts on “Relationships and the Six Human Needs by Teal Swan

  1. Reblogged this on My Universe Within and commented:
    There’s so much I could say on this topic but Teal does an amazing job at explaining the important of accepting sole responsibility for your happiness and how important it is to be whole BEFORE you get involved in a relationship.
    Thank you, Chakra Centre for sharing this one!

  2. hi everyone – i am trying to find out what the route cause of irritation is? does anyone know? i have periods of time where i feel intense irritation with everything and everyone. is it hormones? or is there another reason?

  3. Hi Yolande. I’d say yes hormones are probably involved, and yes, there is another reason. Irritation at everything and everyone, generally rather than anything specific, suggests an underlying malaise somewhere between dissatisfaction and anger. Maybe pushing yourself too hard in areas that don’t bring you fulfillment in return…work? relationship? Family? Friends? Something or someone(s) asking too much of you, more than you’re comfortable giving? If so, this could feel worse at times of your cycle where hormonal stress is greater.

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