Difference Between Need and Desire

Need vs Desire

Need and desire are concepts that are similar in nature and meaning. There are our needs, and there are our desires with both overlapping each other. Often, we feel that what we need is what we desire and what we desire is what we need. This is the confusion in the minds of many people as they feel that needs and desires are synonyms and can be used interchangeably. However, the two concepts are totally different which will be clear after reading this article.


We have certain needs that we feel we cannot live without them. The most basic needs are hunger, clothing, and shelter. Love that we receive from our family and friends may not appear as our need, but it is also our basic need as otherwise we feel neglected and unwanted. Satisfying our needs is very important for us as they are essential for our very existence. We have to eat when we are hungry and need to excrete or urinate when it becomes necessary. We have to fulfill the basic needs to survive. We do not think of mineral water or a cola when we are very thirsty, and all we need is water to quench our thirst.


Desire is something we want for ourselves. This desire could be weak or very strong. If we feel a strong desire for something, we work hard to achieve it for ourselves. Desire is not basic and essential for our existence, and it is not that we cannot live without things we desire. Another important thing to remember is that desires are endless, and we are never satisfied fully.

Desires have been condemned as a source of constant trouble for human beings in many religions as desires are never ending and keep popping up one after another all our lives.

What is the difference between Need and Desire?

• Needs are basic and must be met for our survival. The same cannot be said about our desires.

• If we are hungry, food is all we need to satisfy our need, but if it is a specific food that we want, it is called our desire.

• Desire is something that we want and work to achieve it.

• Desire is not necessary for our survival.

• Desire can be weak or strong, and it can be triggered by certain stimuli.

• Need is absolute and has to be met for our survival.

• Desire gets triggered when we see something that we want.

• Pushing desires away is the only way to avoid desperation.

• Desires are sources of sorrow for human beings.