6 Ways to Meet Your Partner’s Needs
Even in the happiest relationships there will be disagreements and conflict. It’s completely natural and normal, and can be completely healthy if handled in a way that addresses your needs and your partner’s needs. Too often when there is conflict, you just want to win. You want to be right. You want your own needs met and you don’t think about meeting the other person’s. But, even if you “win” the fight, you’re just setting yourself up for another one. Recognizing and learning to meet your partner’s needs isn’t only a good way to treat the person you love, it’s also a good way to bring happiness to your relationship and, in turn, to you.
Here are six of your partner’s most fundamental needs:
1. Respect, respect, respect
If your relationship were a house, respect would be the foundation the house sits on. Without it, a relationship cannot be emotionally healthy. Boundaries are frequently crossed when there isn’t respect between partners, and not acknowledging a person’s boundaries causes long-lasting resentment and anger. One way to show that you respect your partner is by practicing empathy. By regularly listening to his or her thoughts and feelings, and validating them, you’ll help to build closeness and a regard for their individuality.
2. Time and attention
Good relationships don’t happen by accident. For the vast majority of us, achieving a happy, healthy relationship involves learning many new skills and putting in a lot of hard work. One of the best ways to make your partner happy is by giving him or her time and attention. By focusing on your partner while they are talking or while you’re enjoying an activity together, you will make them feel important, nurtured, seen, and accepted for who they are.
Affection is usually a part of passionate foreplay and sex, but simple affection should also have a place in your relationship. Hugging, kissing, and holding hands are all examples of physical ways you can show affection for your partner. Saying “I love you” and expressing words of gratitude and caring are verbal displays of affection that are important, too.
As a child, you sought approval from your parents and caretakers. Whether or not your parents met this desire, you continue to want approval and support from the people you love and whose opinion you value. It doesn’t take a lot of effort to show your partner you approve, simple compliments are a good place to start.
5. Security, predictability, and consistency
Life will throw many challenges at you and change is inevitable, whether it’s a new job or the loss of a parent or another life-altering event. Your relationship with your partner should offer you both a secure base while you move through life. Predictability and consistency offers this type of security. You want your partner to always be there for you and be reliable, so you need to be reliable to them, too.
6. Autonomy and engagement
In a healthy relationship, two complete human beings walk through life hand in hand, not share one person’s life. To be happy with your partner you need to not only be deeply engaged with each other, you also need to be deeply engaged with yourself. No matter how close you are, you both need to maintain separate identities and senses of self. You can take care of your partner and love him or her with all of your heart while loving and taking care of yourself at the same time. You will sometimes have priorities that take precedence over your partner, like an important presentation to prepare for or a night out with your friends, and it’s essential to understand and accept that from time to time your partner will have priorities outside of your relationship, too.
Now that you know what the six most basic emotional needs are in a relationship, you can put it to use. Take this list and find a quiet place where you can be alone for at least fifteen minutes. Write down ways you think you can meet your partner’s needs. Once you have them written down, you can organize it into a plan. As you work on meeting your partner’s needs, you can check back on your plan to see how you’re doing. Then, share with your partner how he or she can meet your own needs in order to make you feel emotionally safe. Your relationship will thank you for it.
Dr. Andrea Brandt , PhD, MFT, brings over 30 years of clinical experience to the role of psychotherapist, speaker, and author. She is a recognized expert in treating a full range of emotional issues, including anger, passive-aggressiveness, anxiety, work-life balance, and women’s issues. Within her practice, Dr. Brandt reveals positive paths to emotional health that teaches people how to reinvent and empower themselves. In her book 8 Keys to Eliminating Passive-Aggressiveness , she examines strategies for overcoming a common yet debilitating response mechanism. In Mindful Anger: A Pathway To Emotional Freedom , she explores methods to better understand and manage the powerful emotion of anger. Please visit abrandtherapy.com for more information and connect with Dr. Brandt on Facebook and Twitter .