Emotional Needs: What People in Relationships Want from Each Other

All of us have basic needs, like food, air, water, and safety. Without fulfilling these needs, we wouldn’t be alive so they are the most important. However, it’s impossible to enjoy a fulfilling life by only satisfying these basic needs. These are physical needs, and people’s lives aren’t limited to physical activity and well-being. Our thoughts and emotional comfort are also impossible to ignore.

For example, appreciation, affection, and friendship are invisible things that are no less valuable to us than material things. When we are in a relationship with someone, we want to be heard and to fulfill our emotional needs. Although all relationships are unique, all couples share some common emotional needs.

When couples start relationship therapy to deal with a relationship crisis, one of the most common complaints is that someone’s partner doesn’t hear them. Quite often, people in relationships feel like their partners don’t listen to them or don’t understand their needs. If you feel like you’re unimportant to your partner, this is one of the common signs your needs aren’t being met.

In this article, we’re going to take a closer look at the couples’ emotional needs, examples of these needs, and share some tips on how to make your relationship more fulfilling and emotionally comfortable.

What Are Emotional Needs?

Couples’ complaints about their relationships are always related to unfulfilled emotional needs so relationship therapists and counselors are well-aware of the things most people are looking for in a relationship. Generally, an emotional need is a need that makes you feel happy and content when fulfilled. When such needs are unfulfilled, a person may feel frustrated and unhappy.

It would be difficult to make a complete list of emotional needs in a relationship because everyone has unique priorities and preferences. It’s possible, however, to highlight some of the most common needs among couples. For example, psychologist Dr. Willard F. Harley, Jr. identified the 10 needs he most often dealt with in his practice. Here they are:

  1. Affection: hugs, holding hands, words of love, “love you” notes, etc.
  2. Family commitment: sharing responsibilities regarding children, spending quality time with them;
  3. Intimacy: having intimate conversations about each other’s interests, problems, and aspirations;
  4. Physical attractiveness: the partner’s hygiene, weight, clothing style, etc.
  5. Financial support: maintaining a certain lifestyle, agreeing on the family budget;
  6. Appreciation: saying words of appreciation and admiration, complimenting the partner, avoiding unnecessary criticism;
  7. Companionship: enjoying various recreational activities together;
  8. Honesty: openness about partners’ past and current life events and plans for the future;
  9. Domestic support: helping each other clean the house, do laundry, wash dishes, take care of pets, etc.
  10.  Sexual closeness: mutually satisfying sex life.

Obviously, this is an incomplete list of couples’ emotional needs, and needs that have the top priority for one person may also have the lowest priority for someone else. In fact, many couples that experience relationship problems have the same problem: emotional needs that are considered the most important by one of the partners are also the least important for the other partner.

There are 5 love languages, and people who “speak” the physical touch love language may prioritize sexual closeness and affection, while those with the quality time love language may particularly appreciate companionship and family commitment. Therefore, it’s important to listen to your partner to understand what is important to them. Here are some tips that will help you fulfill your partner’s emotional needs in a relationship.

  How to Fulfill Your Partner’s Emotional Needs in a Relationship

Even though all relationships are different, there are some tips that can help everyone, at least to a certain extent. Following these simple tips in your everyday life might help you improve your relationships with your loved one, but don’t hesitate to talk to a licensed counselor to better understand your partner’s specific needs so that you can work on specific issues.

  •   Show your affection

Partners can demonstrate affection in different ways, including sexual intimacy, touches, words of love, or gestures that can demonstrate one’s feelings. By expressing your affection, you can get closer to your partner and build a strong bond.

Everyone shows affection differently, and partners can get used to each other’s way of showing it. Besides, the emotional needs of a man often differ from those of a woman, so heterosexual couples may face some difficulties related to gender stereotypes and societal expectations when looking for common ground.

Quite often, partners start to worry when the level of affection in their relationship changes. Many common relationship problems are rooted in a lack of affection. In this case, it’s important to maintain effective communication. Don’t blame your partner for not satisfying your needs but focus on communicating your feelings and desires.

  •   Build trust

A lack of trust is one of the most common signs of toxic relationships. It’s impossible to feel comfortable and safe in a relationship if there’s not enough trust because this way, partners create a lot of room for suspicions and doubts. At the same time, building trust takes a lot of time and effort.

When a breach of trust occurs, it’s important to address the problem right away. Besides, don’t hesitate to ask a licensed counselor or therapist for help so that you and your partner can communicate effectively, without escalating the problem.

  •   Make your partner feel secure

Healthy relationships are impossible without a feeling of security. However, people may understand security in different ways. For some of us, security is all about emotional safety, while others may emphasize personal boundaries, support, or the ability to securely share their feelings. When it comes to security, establishing healthy boundaries is crucial. Communication, however, is no less important.

  •   Provide validation

No matter how close partners are, couples rarely agree on everything. There’s no need to always agree with your partner, but even if you don’t agree on something, you can still let them know that you understand their position. If you don’t try to at least understand your partner’s perspective and don’t look for some space for a compromise, your partner may feel disrespected, misunderstood, and rejected.

  •   Show acceptance

When partners accept each other as they are, they can feel a sense of belonging. Acceptance, however, is not only about accepting each other but also accepting yourself as a partner who deserves love, support, and respect.

To show acceptance, the two of you may enjoy some activities together, share goals for the future, ask each other’s opinions when making decisions, or get to know each other’s friends. At the same time, it’s important not to forget about personal boundaries.

  •   Practice empathy

Simply put, empathy means imagining and understanding how someone else feels. This is a very important ability for couples because it enables people to bond and understand each other.

Many emotional needs examples from the list above are closely connected to empathy because empathy allows partners to recognize each other’s needs and respect each other’s feelings. To strengthen your empathy, try to consider your partner’s perspective. Imagine if you two switched places. What would you feel? What would you expect from your partner?

  •   Maintain autonomy

As relationships evolve, partners get closer to each other and start to share some parts of their lives with each other. As partners share each other’s interests, enjoy some activities together, and start to participate in different areas of each other’s lives, the couple becomes stronger as a unit. However, no matter how close you are, you are still two individuals with unique values, interests, and goals. 

Respecting each other’s boundaries not only enables couples to create a safe environment but also allows them to save their identities. It’s also important to keep personal interests because this way, you two will be able to stay curious about each other.

  Final Thoughts

Although all people share some common basic needs, all of us have unique emotional needs. To build a strong and healthy relationship, partners should communicate and acknowledge each other’s needs, which isn’t always an easy task. So, if you and your partner need some help with understanding each other, don’t hesitate to ask for professional help.

A licensed counselor can help you two figure out what you are looking for in a relationship and provide the necessary support for both of you. If your work schedule is too busy and you don’t have much time for in-person sessions, you can use online counseling platforms. Platforms like Calmerry provide a more flexible solution, enabling clients to get the necessary help without leaving the comfort of their homes.

On online platforms, you can not only get relationship advice but also talk to a therapist to better understand your own needs and desires. Learn more about the benefits of therapy to know what you can expect from online sessions.

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