Everyone experiences a strong desire for something now and then, but only in certain cases are we driven to avoid losing what we have once we have it. In many cases, people take for granted what they have, and they lose appreciation for what they have acquired.

The same principle applies to relationships. So whilst the failure to appreciate material possessions may be acceptable to a certain degree, it really isn’t ok when a person begins to take the people they love for granted.

Taking someone you once desired for granted can mean one of two things. Either: 1) the desire for that person was merely lust, and the relationship has turned out to be of little or no value to you in the longer-term. It could also be that you are selfish by nature, and you don’t know how to truly invest in someone else, and consider their needs before your own; or 2) you genuinely do love that person you initially desired, but have somehow lost your way in the hustle and bustle of daily life.

It is not realistic for two people who genuinely love each other to show appreciation for one another every single day, but the central issue of this article concerns those of you who are worried that your partner who you once thought you meant the world to, was never really into you for the longer term. So, here I talk about the difference between a relationship that is based on someone’s mere desire for you (and one which may not last much longer), versus a relationship that is based on someone’s genuine need and love for you.

Fighting for success

When you are in a relationship, you should never take the other partner for granted. More importantly, you should fear losing your special someone, as that worry is the driving factor that stops you from taking your partner for granted. Without those worries, it is possible that you have less need for your partner than you may have thought. Of course, it is also essential that the other partner in your relationship has a fear of losing you too, and if that is not the case, the love your partner feels for you may be more based on desire than need. If you are with someone who is not willing to fight for you, it is probably advisable to start thinking about where you are heading with this person.

Discovering the difference between need and desire

It may seem difficult in the early stages of a relationship to spot the differences between a partner who desires you and one who truly needs you. Someone who just desires you is absorbed in themselves and in their own wants and desires. To win you over in the first place, someone of this type will frequently go to extreme lengths to create an illusion that you are more important than anything, and this is very likely to impress you. Perhaps this may include showering you with a spectacular birthday present or a romantic and unique gift on any occasion. On the other hand, if your partner genuinely needs you, they will do everything they can to make certain you're happy, including all the little important gestures like popping in to the store to buy milk – things that may not be costly but are meaningful nonetheless. You can read more about the type of partner you should forever hold onto in this article for further insight.

Listening and hearing

DESIRE: In relationships based on desire, conversation isn't all that meaningful or bonding. You partner may barely put any effort into talking to you and you may never really enjoy a conversation. Conversations will always be minimised to a basic level because your partner has no true interest in anything you say.

NEED: Your significant other will always want to converse with you and listen to anything you say. They find you fascinating, wanting to understand you better and know everything from the music you like best to your favourite food, your routine and your lifestyle. The reason they want to know more about you is because they want to learn everything they need to know to keep you happy and satisfied.

Making time to see your partner

DESIRE: In a relationship based on desire, your partner decides where and when to see you, as convenient for them. They will only contact you if they feel like doing so, choosing the date and time themselves. Often, you may find yourself alone, including important occasions when you had hoped to have your partner by your side (eg, a friend’s engagement party). Your needs, your occasions, and your schedules are rarely considered.

NEED: In a relationship based on need, a partner will choose to spend time with you at every opportunity, simply to become closer to you. They want to be with you as often as they can, irrespective of what you are doing and where you are going. If having them by your side at an occasion they would otherwise be disinterested in is important to you, then it will be important to them. They will often re-arrange their own schedules to fit in with yours.

Love for your partner

DESIRE: If someone is in love (or they think they are), they never scrutinise their partner. Ok, so you know your partner wants you, but is there genuine love there? You may find they are dissatisfied with some aspects about you; maybe the clothes you wear, the way you look, how you speak, what you talk about, and other elements of your personality, and this is because they cannot accept you as yourself. The danger here is that if you cannot conform to your partner's ideal, they will not remain interested in you for long. If you are always trying to change yourself to be the person your partner wants you to be, you will become anxious, self-doubting, sad and insecure.

NEED: A partner who genuinely loves you will cherish all aspects of you, and accept your failings and faults. They take time to get to know you before they even declare that they love you, only because they respect you and don’t want to scare you off. They enjoy spending time with you and can't wait to be with you no matter what you plan to do or where you go.

If you are looking for more insight into whether or not your partner truly loves you, you can check out my article here for more signs of genuine love. Although this article was initially written for men, it contains some universal principles that apply to both men and women.

Planning for the future

DESIRE: Your partner always tries to avoid making future plans. They will never aim to plan a holiday in a year's time, or even in a month's time. They won't discuss the future because they don't know how long they will be with you. Avoiding promises to you is all about avoiding commitment to you.

NEED: Your partner has no problems with discussing the future and your ongoing relationship together. They in fact look for signs of a long-term commitment, and are more than happy to make plans with you, as this is reassuring to them that you are unlikely to part ways any time soon.


It can be extremely difficult to come to terms with a relationship that seemed to start out so well, and which you held out so many hopes for, only to feel instinctively that something isn’t quite right. On the one hand, you are overwhelmed by how much this person has spoiled you with extravagant dinners, outings and gifts, and yet on the other hand, you feel unsettled about the way they couldn’t be bothered to check up on you each day when you had a bad flu. At the end of the day, the monetary contributions to your relationship from your partner are really of little value. You have a right to set the standards high for yourself, and if you are looking for more clarification about the true value of what you currently have, you can read about how to achieve a happy relationship at this link, and what two people need to be expressing and demonstrating equally to make the relationship work.

I would love to hear your comments or answer any questions you might have about this post.

Yours sincerely,   

Dr. Carissa Coulston, Clinical Psychologist

BSc(Hons), MPsychol(Clinical), PhD, MAPS