We humans have a strong tendency to say “need” when all we really mean is “really, really want.” Let’s score a finer line than that.
Need pertains to purpose. When we say a thing is necessary, we must specify “necessary for what?” Does a human organism need love to survive?
Does a human organism need love to survive happily, to thrive and feel purposeful with a fit in the world?
Well, no. Some humans don’t need that at all. But we are social creatures, and probably most do need some, for that. Some level of human connection. Of knowing others and being known by them. Human populations have always produced a variety of temperaments, some loners, and some people persons. There are all kinds of fits available, including solitude – which suits some mightily! But for those who crave connection, solitude can be a trial and a misery.
Still, at the bottom of it all when we say “need” in reference to a human being, to me that means necessary to survive.
Love is not need. In those who “need” it, really it is want. Desire. Satisfaction and fulfillment are what it brings to the table, not survival if you’ve got it or death if you don’t. Sure, a life barren of all satisfaction and fulfillment, a life bereft of love may prove unendurable to some, and they may even end it rather than endure what seems pointless misery. Others though, deprived of one satisfaction they crave, find other satisfactions and pursuits to offset. Life offers many of these, even if for a given individual love is the best.
Now, when you say social necessity, one thing that’s necessary for social anything is humans and human interaction. Given that, I’m always going to find love – of various kinds and character, based on each individual in interaction and what they bring out in me. By this sense, love is not a social necessity. Love is the unavoidable outcome and by-product of all things social. Of human interaction. Where there are people, I always find love. But that’s just me; your mileage may vary.
When you say “physiological need,” I think you’re conflating needs and drives. Humans overall have a strong urge to mate, of which romantic love is but one of its expressions and flourishing. Not all humans have that sex urge strongly or at all. Hard as that may be to believe for someone who has it strongly! Some have it not at all. In some, it expresses as sexual desire but without the romantic trappings. And some want love far more than they want sex.
In any case, drives are not themselves needs. Strong as they may be, they are wants. Desire and urge, and with a purpose: to impel the organism to survive (hunger, thirst, aggression towards or avoidance of threats) or to continue the species (sex). The drive serves the need, but clearly what we personally individually need to survive is very different from what the species “needs” to continue.
Whatever physiological “need” is involved in sex, it is released at orgasm. Technically, no one needs social life or human contact for this.
The other things we need in love, really we just want: belonging. Validation: knowing (and showing the world!) we can attract and keep a desirable mate, someone who knocks our mind’s eyes out with wonder that they’re ours. And we are theirs. Companionship, and a co-conspirator and collaborator for all manner of life hijinks. Or beyond couple ship, all the different love and loves fanning out in social circles like ripples from our thrown stone, people who know us and love us by all degrees, different unique ways, all arising from the combination of who we really are andwho they really are. What we bring out in each other.
It is or can be incredibly rewarding, but to some it’s just “eh.” No need.
Really to all of us: it is not “need.” It is like. It is want. It is love.
Love is what makes life worth living, I’d say. Need is just what makes life possible to live. Need is not the greater, here: it is so much less. It is base. What we want, like and love is greater than what we need. For the sake of what we love we forgot what we need, at times even unto death.
Need is animal. It is our wants that make us human.