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You need others, except when you don’t

960 words

One moment you want to be closer. Then you want to be alone. Something wrong? No, it’s all quite natural.


Nature-based anakelogy illustrates, with this four-quadrant wheel, how we naturally cycle through four types of psychosocial relational needs.

This relational needs cycle mirrors the four seasons relationship cycle. Similar to that cycle, this cycle illustrates your current "dependency" based on which needs dominate at the moment.


Your cycle of psychosocial needs

Your relationships cycle back and forth between closeness and solitude. Between togetherness and aloneness. Your human growth depends on this rhythm.

When your social-needs upstage your solitude, you naturally feel pulled toward others you trust. Your self-sufficiency gives way to what others can do for you.

When your self-needs emerge more focal, you then naturally feel pulled toward more solitude. Your family’s support for following the norms gives way to trying things your own way.

Your interdependency needs

You’re just starting a relationship. Or rebuilding one.

You feel lonely and long for someone’s company. You were recently content to sit alone, but not so much any longer. Your heart tugs at you to seek out others.

At this point, you are both independent and dependent. You are interdependent. You interact with others, but not always sure if they are authentically interacting with you.

You can do plenty on your own, for yourself. But not everything. And it just feels more meaningful to do it with others.

  • Your need for affection longs for deliverance.

  • Your needs for friendship and companionship stand out more.

  • Your need for cooperation expresses itself as a readiness to negotiate more.

As your self-needs become defocal, your social-needs become more prefocal. You are slowly pulled toward greater attention of your dependency needs.

Your dependency needs

Now you’re getting along better. Personal differences don’t seem to matter as much.

You find yourself in the thick of your relationship. You have others around you to support you. You are warm toward them as they are generally warm toward you.

At this point, you are more reliant on others than on yourself. Your independence fades with the increasing demands of others. You need them, and they depend meaningfully on you.

You grow closer with others. You set aside some personal preferences to be with others. You find you can do more with this team than you could ever accomplish on your own.

  • Your need for belonging anchors you to your loved ones.

  • Your needs for inclusion and affirmation compel you to follow rules to receive them.

  • Your need for their support incentivizes you to maintain group cohesion.

Your social-needs dominate and remain focal. Your self-needs slip mostly to the backburner. Where they eventually reemerge, to sprout into your counterdependency needs.

Your counterdependency needs

You find yourself more at odds. Perhaps even fighting at times.

You feel an increasing need to pull away. Others now smother you. You must get away, and stretch out on your own. Others are okay, but you’re itching to be alone.

At this point, your dependence on others turn toward not depending on others as much. You’re caught between two worlds. Needing others and yet needing to get away.

You’ve picked the fruits of your relationship dry. You feel a need to drop what no longer serves. You’re not quite ready to set out on your own. But you know you can’t continue as before.

  • Your need for greater privacy pushes aside any need for intimacy.

  • Your needs for self-sufficiency and resilience overrules your need for support.

  • Your need for self-determination scraps blind obedience to their rules.

As your social-needs become defocal, your underserved self-needs become prefocal. You are slowly pulled to attend more to your independency needs.

Your independency needs

You’re on your own now. Whether you broke up, or just taking a leave of absence.

You find yourself in deep solitude. You think more about who you honestly are, apart from what others demand you to be. You gain a better sense of your individuality.

At this point, you must be able to do things for yourself, with little if any help. You must be inward dependent. You must learn to do more for yourself to face those times when no one is around.

You see more of yourself apart from others. Your identity asks who you really are. You must explore more of those hidden corners of your private self. You must live free.

  • Your need for authenticity takes center stage.

  • Your needs for self-efficacy and initiative ensures you grow lasting purpose in life.

  • Your need for personal freedom looks to sharpen your sense of self-worth.

Your self-needs dominate and remain focal. Your social-needs slip mostly out of view. Where they eventually reemerge, to sprout into your interdependency needs.

Your cycle continues

You get back together. Perhaps even closer this time around.

After this journey of self-discovery, you long to be better understood. Once you know yourself better, you naturally seek to be known better by others. Your relations get stronger.

At this point, you’re again both independent and dependent. Depending on your situation, one more than the other.

If your relationship satisfies your social-needs, but overlooks your self-needs, you’ll likely lean more independent than dependent. You feel you belong, if you don’t expose too much of yourself.

If your relationship satisfies your self-needs, but overlooks your social-needs, you’ll likely lean more dependent than independent. You feel autonomous, if you don’t upset group cohesion.

Ideally, your relationships and their contexts allow you to sufficiently satisfy all your psychosocial needs. In reality, one tends to dominate over the other. Fortunately, either type can be held together by the universal glue of love.


Steph Turner is the founder of anakelogy, the study of need. Also the founder of Value Relating to apply anakelogy to your painful needs, offering a viable alternative to stigmatizing psychotherapy, by inviting you to speak your truth to power. Delve deeper into how unmet psychosocial needs shape your politics by previewing Defusing Polarization: Understanding Divisive Politics, my eCourse available at Udemy.



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Steph is a self-described transspirit, which is a kind of sacred misfit. By transcending conventional limits—gender norms, religious identities, political polarities, and more—Steph experiences a unique connection in life. And suspects others do as well. This blog shares that spirituality, and affirms others of a similar state of being.

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