Everybody has needs in their relationships, whether the relationship is with a family member, a friend, or a partner. Needs can differ depending on the relationship, and nobody can meet all our needs. Additionally, it is unrealistic to expect that our needs are met at all times or that the other person automatically knows what we need. In fact, it can be difficult for us to recognise our needs, and also to find ways to ask for those needs to be met. Here are some of the more common needs within relationships – how many do you recognise as yours?
- To feel connected. As children we need to be attached or connected to a caregiver. This need continues as we grow older and encourages us to engage in relationships (the opposite is feeling isolated or lonely).
- To be heard. Communication is more than just talking. The listening part of communication is more important and in fact can be harder to do. It is very satisfying to have someone listen, hear, and “hold the space” for us.
- To feel worthwhile. We all like to feel important to somebody – that we are valued and loved unconditionally.
- To enhance our self-esteem. We should feel good within our relationships and feel that the other party is encouraging and has faith in us.
- To feel safe and secure. We all need a safe space to just be. If your relationship or place is not “safe” whether that be physically or emotionally safe, it is important to take steps to change this.
- To receive attention. Similar to needing to feel worthwhile. We all know that children need this right? Adults need it too!
- To have fun! Life sometimes gets too serious. When stress or worries take over, having fun with your friend, family member, or partner is the best antidote! I often suggest people have “date night” on a regular basis to get back to the basics of having fun together. You can have a date night with anyone!
- To be intimate (in a romantic relationship). This does not solely meant sex but the way we express our love to each other.
No-one gets their needs met all the time. But, you are more likely to get your needs met if you express what you need in an assertive manner (check out the earlier blog on communication). Be specific in what you need (to be heard, to have a hug, or to have some time out?). If your needs are never met in a relationship, you may need to re-assess what the relationship means to you and if you want to be in it. On the other hand, you may need to consider if and how you can meet the needs of the other person in your relationship/s. If you are unable to meet their need at the time, reflecting what you have heard them say they need and why you are unable to meet this can be useful for preserving the relationship. You might do this by expressing your own need at the time (e.g. “I understand that you would like to spend time with me…however right now I am feeling tired and need to take some time for myself”). Relationships thrive when needs are met and falter when they are not (Gottman Institute).