Everybody has needs
Whether you’re in a romantic relationship or a close friendship, everyone has wants and needs that are unique to them as an individual. You may feel that having children is essential to you, but your partner doesn’t want to have kids. Those needs could conflict. Perhaps, your partner likes to go for hikes, and you’re not an outdoor person, but you understand that this is their need, so you either compromise with them or give them the space to spend time outdoors. Being in a relationship is about compromise. It’s a matter of understanding your needs and your partners and figuring out how to balance and prioritize those needs.
Consider what’s important to you and determine your needs
You might be sitting there thinking, “what are my needs? I’m not sure what’s important to me.” It’s understandable to be unclear about what is essential in your life. Something that can help is to make a list. What are the things that matter to you? Maybe, you’re creative, and you require the time to be on your own to work on your art, music, or writing. Perhaps what matters to you is fulfilling your needs to donate to or volunteer with charitable organizations. These are your passions, and they might be a part of your needs in life. There are also needs and wants that we have, which relate specifically to romantic relationships. Some people like to express their emotions to their partner; they need to be heard and have their partner paraphrase what they said. Other people might feel more comfortable writing their feelings down on paper and might find it more helpful to share their feelings that way. You need to know what you want so that you can express it clearly to your partner.
Listening to your partner’s needs
Just like you, your partner has needs. It’s important to remember that you don’t need to compromise all of your needs to appease someone else. In a relationship, you may have to compromise, but that doesn’t mean being self-sacrificial. It means being considerate of your partner and balancing their needs with yours. Maybe, your partner is an introvert, but you’re an extrovert. You might want them to go to parties or social gatherings with you, and they may feel that they need more alone time than you do. In this scenario, you can compromise by going out to the events that you want to go to and acknowledge that they’ll go with you sometimes, but other times, they’ll stay home and get the alone time that they require to rest and recharge. It’s imperative in a relationship that you have a dialogue with your partner about what is important to you and that you ask what is meaningful to them as well. Having that open-ended conversation is crucial in making you feel that you’re being heard.
When your needs aren’t being respected
Sometimes, there are relationships where no matter how transparent you are about your needs, you won’t feel that your partner is respecting them. You can speak to them using “I” messages and tell them that you don’t feel respected or heard. An “I” message is when you say, “I feel ___ when you ___.” for example, you can say, “I feel sad when you don’t listen to my feelings.” That way, you’re taking it upon yourself to own how you feel rather than blaming. If you feel like you’re hitting a rough spot and don’t know how to express how you feel to your partner or you feel that there’s any other communication barrier in your partnership, one thing that can help is therapy.
Couples therapy is an excellent place to discuss your individual needs and what you need in a relationship. A couples counselor is someone who is an expert at navigating complex relationship problems and can help you figure out what’s going to work for you and your partner. Don’t be afraid to reach out for help and express what you need. Everyone involved in a relationship must get their needs met because it’ll make the relationship happier, healthier, and more likely to last.