What’s the most important part of a long-lasting relationship? Many say its communication. While communication is important its not the sole answer. Many of my clients want emotional intimacy. It’s a problem or lack for many couples, but again it’s not the sole answer. Really knowing yourself comes closer, it’s important, but it’s not the whole definitive answer either.
How about needs?
The key to a long-term, mutually supportive, loving, intimate relationship is both individual’s needs being met. Realistically that will never happen 100% of the time. Some of your needs are individual, some are relational, and some overlap. If you don’t know what your needs are, as well as your partner’s needs, there will be conflict. That’s an inevitable, guaranteed, sure thing that leads to loads of arguments and hurt feelings.
Have you ever thought about your physical, environmental, biological, mental, emotional, spiritual, sexual, social, psychological, and relational needs? What are they? Your needs are based on your values, your beliefs, your boundaries – really knowing who and what you are.
Actual needs are not expectations or assumptions. They’re also not selfish. Needs are concrete, specific, and measurable things you need to feel safe and secure. What then are your needs in order to build and maintain a loving, mutually-supportive, and intimate relationship?
Happiness is a need, but it’s always your responsibility and never your partner’s. Communication is a need. So is emotional intimacy. Respect is another. All three require a second person to help fulfill them, but there’s a catch. A man once told me, “I’ll respect anyone who respects me the way I expect to be respected.” He was talking about a specific need – respect – but he couldn’t put that need into words either for himself or for anyone else.
In varying degrees each of us has the need to feel:
- accepted, acknowledged, admired, appreciated, approved of, capable, challenged, clear (not confused), competent, forgiven, forgiving, free, fulfilled, heard, helped, helpful, important, in control, included, listened to, loved, needed, noticed, productive/useful, reassured, recognized, respected, safe / secure, treated fairly, understanding, understood, valued, worthy
Be Specific & Focus on Yourself
These are all good – but they’re just words. To be valid you have to add concrete and specific elements to each one. What does it mean, to you, to be noticed or needed? What are you really looking for to have that need fulfilled? If you can’t put these needs into words for yourself no one will ever be able to fulfill them.
In terms of relationships we often need:
- Companionship and quality time with our partner.
Respect and appreciation from our partner.
Open and honest communication from our partner.
Our partner to be accountable, dependable, and reliable.
Emotional intimacy from our partner.
To have a satisfying and physically intimate sexual life with our partner.
To feel loved by our partner.
Our partner to understand and respect our personal privacy and boundaries.
Our partner to respect and protect our relational privacy and boundaries.
Encouragement, open-mindedness and support from our partner for our own hopes, dreams, and goals in life.
And our partner to actively work to support and grow our relationship.
Notice these are all outwardly focused, none apply to you. If you’re waiting for someone to show them to you, before you show the same, you may be waiting an awfully long time. If its a need for you, try to fill it for your partner first.
And while these examples are better, what do they really mean for you? What actions or words will tell you these needs are being met? What are you really looking for to have your needs fulfilled? If you can’t put them into words for yourself no one else will be able to fulfill them either. That’s a certainty. You’ll end up blaming your partner or other people when perhaps you should be looking in a mirror and doing some more work on yourself.
Struggling with an unsatisfying relationship? Looking for some guidance? I can help. Give me a call or send me an email. Be happy to help you figure out some answers.