Why would someone want to be loved other than selfish reasons or to boost their ego?

We could dream up some strange scenario in which I want to be loved by someone - Robin, say - but only because if Robin loves me, this will (somehow!) produce some good result that doesn't benefit me personally. I leave it as an imaginative exercise to construct such a story. But that's presumably not what you have in mind. So let's think about more ordinary cases.

Perhaps I'm wrong, but I read the tone of your question as dismissive - as suggesting there's something neurotic or self-absorbed about wanting to be loved. And no doubt there's a real worry here. Being obsessed with what other people think of us isn't healthy and worrying about whether we're loved can be not just neurotic but also a way of making it less likely that we will be. But wanting to be liked or loved can also be an inevitable part of something that it's not at all neurotic. Friendship, most of us find, is a real human good. So is a healthy romantic relationship. So is a warm bond between parent and child. If I like you and would like to be your friend, then part of what I want more or less by definition is for you to like me too. A one-sided "friendship" is no friendship at all. Notice, though: even if I want us to be friends, that doesn't mean the focus of what I want is on me; it can just as well or better be on us.

Still, if our relationship sours because you come not to care about me, that may be painful for me, and few of us get through life without any of that kind of pain. From some point of view, the fact that we can be pained this way may seem weak or unseemly, but I'd use a different word: I'd call it human. Furthermore, this humanness comes with its own good. If I were indifferent to how you felt about me, it's hard to see how you and I could ever hope to enter into the real human good of friendship. And if I were immune to the hurt that can come when a relationship ends, it might be very hard for me to empathize with, support or comfort my own friends and loved ones when that happens to them.

You have probably noticed that I've simply taken something for granted: friendship and other intimate human relations are a good thing. I have indeed taken it for granted. Friendships and romantic relationships can have a sort of instrumental good, of course. With the help of friends, I can get things done that I couldn't just do myself. And if there were no such thing as romantic love or love of parent for child, the race would likely be in danger. But most of us find that loving and being loved - understood broadly - are also good for their own sake. If someone didn't see that, I'm not sure I'd know what to say.

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