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.

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

  1. Kelly says:

    https://polldaddy.com/js/rating/rating.jsCan a growth oriented person still receive kind support if they have fallen? Or should they always be able to give it to themselves?? I spoke to a friend of mine about a problem I am experiencing a couple of days ago and she reached out to me tonight just to tell me she believes in me and trusts I will make the right decision.

    • John says:

      Hello Kelly, thank you for reading and for your comment and question.

      Growth-orientedness and deficit-and repair-orientedness are two opposite extremes or ends of the same spectrum.

      Another spectrum to consider, and not to confuse with the above spectrum, is what Bowen theorized as a person’s level of differentiation. At the one end of the spectrum, typically conceptualized as the lower end of the spectrum) or at lower levels of differentiation, people tend to need a lot of support — typically emotional support, i.e., validation, acceptance, okayness (people pleasing) — it’s just the way they are hard-wired. People at this level tend to be more susceptible to stress and anxiety, thus why they need other’s support and validation and help. Their decisions and actions tend to be based on Instinct, gut, emotions, feelings, the necessity of the moment, as opposed to thinking ahead, careful decision-making and weighing of various variables, and applying well thought-out and sound life principles. In other words, people at the lower end of the differentiation of self scale tend to have less of a well-defined core or solid self, and instead tend to have much more pseudo or flexible or adapted self, and vest end to need emotional support, what David Schnarch calls “borrowed functioning.”

      It probably stands to reason that the more well differentiated a person is, meaning the more solid self a person has, then the more growth-oriented a person will tend to be. But I still tend to suspect that these two spectrum’s, the growth oriented one, and the differentiation of self one, are not identical or one in the same.

      I tend to suspect that a person can be fairly poorly differentiated, yet still growth-oriented, and by that, I mean not just have a huge appetite for new experiences, but have appetite for those experiences that will help him or her grow, mature, even differentiate. It’s just that in such a person, that kernel of growth-orientedness may be fairly week and easily susceptible to being overrun by emotions and anxiety.

      Also, a person who is not very well differentiated and who thus needs a large amount of emotional support and validation, May, if they are very growth-oriented, be very picky or choosy or discerning about the type of emotional support and validation they seek and accept. So instead of a deficit and repair persons orientation of any port in a storm, for a growth-oriented person, even one who is not very well differentiated yet, that person will be picky about what port they choose in the storm.

      Does this help? If not, feel free to share more, or to ask any follow-up questions you may have.

      Kindest regards,


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