What Kind of Lover Are You? What Kind of Love Do You Give? and What Kind of Love Do You Want to Experience?

Abraham Maslow proposed that an individual is basically oriented either toward “deficit and repair” or “growth and maturation.”

Growth-oriented individuals, in contrast with those with a deficiency-orientation (deficit-and-repair orientation), are far more self-sufficient and far less dependent upon their environment for reinforcement or gratification—the determinants that govern them are not social or environmental, but inner; what motivates them are “the laws of their own inner nature, their potentialities and capacities, their talents, their latent resources, their creative impulses, their needs to know themselves and to become more and more integrated and unified, more and more aware of what they really are, of what they really want, of what their call or vocation or fate is to be.” The growth-oriented person is less dependent, less beholden to others, less needful of others’ praise and affection and support, less anxious for honors and prestige and rewards and validation, does not require continual interpersonal need gratification and, in fact, at times may feel hampered by others and prefer periods of solitude. The growth-oriented individual does not relate to others as sources of supply but is able to view them as complex, unique, whole beings (real people).

The person acting out from their deficiency, however, relates to others from the point of view of usefulness. Those aspects of the other that are not related to the perceiver’s needs are either overlooked altogether or regarded as an irritant or a threat. Thus love is transformed into something else and, as Maslow said, resembles our relationships “with cows, horses, and sheep, as well as with waiters, taxicab drivers, porters, policemen, or others whom we use.”

Maslow described two types of love that correspond to a person’s orientation toward either “deficit and repair” or “growth and maturation.” “Deficiency-love” is “selfish love” or “need-love,” whereas “Being-love”—love for the “being” of another person—is “unneeding love” or “unselfish love.” Being-love is not possessive and is admiring rather than needing; thus it is a richer, “higher,” more valuable subjective experience than Deficiency-love. Deficiency-love can be gratified, whereas the concept of “gratification” hardly applies at all to Being-love. Being-love has within it a minimum of fear. Being-lovers are more independent of each other, more autonomous, less jealous or threatened, less needful, more disinterested, but simultaneously more eager to help the other toward self-actualization and self-transcendence, more proud of the other’s triumphs, more altruistic, generous, and fostering. Being-love, in a profound sense, creates the partner, provides self-acceptance and a feeling of love worthiness, which enhances continual growth.

—Irvin D. Yalom (Abraham Maslow in quotes), in “Existential Psychotherapy


About John

I am a married, 46-year old, Midwesterner, with four children. My primary interest is in leading a very examined and decent and Loving life; my interests that are related to this and that feed into this include (and are not limited to) -- psychology, philosophy, poetry, critical thinking, photography, soccer, tennis, chess, bridge.
This entry was posted in "Existential Psychotherapy", Abraham Maslow, Differentiation, Emotional Maturity, Immature Love, Irving D. Yalom, Love, Mature Love and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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