Love is often considered a necessary need, ranking third on Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, below self-esteem.
I think it’s time to swap the two.
Humans are social animals, and the “need” that drives one to seek unwarranted love is insecurity and uncertainty of one’s own place in the world. By unwarranted love, I mean the pursuit of love for purposes that exist outside the evolutionary/genetic lens of reproduction. Insecurity comes from a lack of self-understanding. When self-understanding is missing, we seek others to verify and validate ourselves. The increasing trend in my generation is that, more and more confused young people seek unwarranted love as an end in itself, without acknowledging the root of that desire. This is similar to why I think many seek religion for answers they can’t verify themselves. Love is not the answer when there’s nothing to answer – it’s a distraction.
We live in a society where companies have the means to disproportionately sell the perceived utility of unwarranted love by feeding on this uncertainty. From sexual, gender, to orientation ambiguity, companies make us doubt who we are and blur the lines between fantasy and reality. From body to social image, companies make you fearful of your insecurities and offer a superficial solution that is purchasing their product.
Unless you’re a complacent dopamine slave of capitalism, I think it’s time for us to re-prioritize this hierarchy of needs for the 21st century. The pursuit of self-esteem, i.e. understanding who we are, should come before love.