For a number of reasons I’ve been thinking about motivation quite a lot recently. As noted and explained within many journals before, human scientists have studied three particular motivators in greater detail than any others. These are the motivation for power, achievement, and affiliation.
Individuals motivated by power want to direct and influence others. Individuals motivated by achievement want to accomplish tasks, to get things done, to achieve. Finally, individuals motivated by affiliation want to be part of a group, they want to be liked and respected.
In some previous articles, other authors wrote about noticing the motivational pattern of a partner or potential partner. Experience tells us that dramatic differences in motivational patterns causes friction and too much friction leads to a relationship ending. In other words, someone motivated by power may be a good match only if you have similar motivation or are comfortable with being directed.
Looking at personal motivation a little closer reveals that the need for affiliation has two sub-components and one of them predicts successful adjustment over time.
The sub-components of affiliation are 1) fear of rejection and 2) seeking intimacy. It turns out that some people wanted to be liked by avoiding conflict and dissension, because they are afraid of rejection. Others want to be liked because they are seeking intimacy. So, the need for affiliation is a mixture of a need for acceptance by others (not to be thrown out of the group) and a need for intimacy.
Numerous studies have also shown that the need for intimacy is a better predictor of successful adjustment (satisfaction, happiness, etc.) over time, than the overall need for affiliation (fear of rejection) or the need for power.
Now how can you possibly tell if someone is avoiding rejection or seeking intimacy? This seems pretty easy because those seeking intimacy tend to:
a) Feel highly connected with others even when separated
b) View interpersonal relationships as a source of positive feelings and seek relationships for the feelings alone (not for wanting to get something done together, or wanting to have a successful relationship, or to avoid being alone, or to increase status),
c) Are able to accept others as they are.
d) Feel an overwhelming sense of commitment and concern for others that is not motivated by obligation or guilt, and
e) Feel in harmony and at peace with others
Furthermore, individuals who are motivated to seek personal intimacy are viewed by others as natural and not straining to be intimate, warm, sincere, honest, appreciative, and loving. They are also not seen as dominant and self-centered.
Perhaps needless to say, people who seek intimacy make better partners than those motivated by power, achievement, or not being rejected. Look for the characteristics of an intimacy seeker in a partner or potential partner and you certainly cannot go wrong.
Finally, a person’s capacity for intimacy is highly evident in the quality of all of his or her relationships. It is more a matter of attitude than technique. In addition and especially when this affinity for personal intimacy is inherent, an observer will be easily attracted to this type of human being.