Last week, we covered the Basic Needs that form the foundation of Maslow's pyramid. This week, the next step up is to Safety Needs.
Safety Needs encompasses the need for security, stability, and protection. After Basic needs are taken care of in order to survive, it frees a person's mind to think about "higher" order concerns, fears, or anxieties. People generally want some structure, order, and limits in their world. They want predictability and familiarity.
At this level, most adults focus on the four types of safety/security:
1) Their person and/or family/belongings. This is when people put alarm systems on their house or car or when they implement a neighborhood watch system. They might feel the need to carry a firearm or conceal one at their home. You might install motion detection lights outside your front door and password-protect your laptop. Some will keep safes hidden away under tables or behind pictures or will keep a lock box at a bank where they'll put their most precious belongings. People also appreciate grievance procedures developed on many different levels (government, work, church) that are in place to protect an individual from maltreatment.
2) Their financial security. Adults generally seek out jobs that will give them the most security, and if that comes along with making the most money possible, even better. People will save money in savings account, invest in mutual funds, start a ROTH IRA, or horde a nest egg away on their own in a piggy bank masquerading as a book in their library.
3) Their health/well-being. You only get one body, and while you can alter it considerably with surgeries and the like, you better have dang good insurance to do so. In order to protect themselves again the adverse effects of being really ill, or breaking bones, or having cancer, people have to have insurance or some other social program (Obama's health care reform hadn't exactly been envisioned by Maslow at this time) to fall back on.
4) Their future. The argument could be made that all of the above greatly effect a person's future, and you'd be right. People seem to enjoy planning for when the time will come when they won't have to work and can just enjoy their lives doing what they want to do. In order to do this, though, things have to be put in place while they are still working, like having a good retirement plan. Its important to have a safety net (or as Dave Ramsey likes to say, an "emergency fund") for when there might be a major accident or illness that would have negative impacts.
The importance of the two levels we covered last week and today is this: a person can't fully give of themselves to others (in true friendship, romantic love, and intimacy) before these needs are met. It wouldn't make sense for a character to only pines for love when they don't have a basic need or safety need met beforehand.
If you think back to what you've written in previous books or manuscripts, you'll likely see that you've already done this. You probably have heroines/heroes who already have stable jobs and ready access to food (ha! I'm sure most have never put thought to this!) before they look to get romantically involved. :)
But the higher we go on the pyramid, the more interesting the nuances become for writers. Stay tuned!
Q4U: Can you think of any characters from books or movies that bypassed one of the first two levels on the pyramid to seek out romantic love?
One that comes to my mind is Bella Swan from Twilight. Any other takers?