We all have needs. Needs are the elements we require to keep us safe, healthy, and happy. They span from the physical, like food and water, to the emotional, like feeling loved and having a sense of individuality or autonomy.
To fulfill basic needs, people may naturally turn to others around them for support. Your significant other, family, and friends can provide acceptance, affection, connection, empathy, trust, respect, security, and much more, all of which help you thrive in life.
In a successful and healthy relationship, the individuals in that relationship feel that their needs are for the most part being met. But needs are highly individual. That’s why communicating your needs — whether you feel they’re currently being met or not — is sometimes essential.
The psychotherapy team at Psychology Beverly Hills can help. We offer relationship counseling to help you understand your unique needs and communicate them effectively in any relationship: romantic, familial, or platonic.
Identify your needs
Your needs are just that: yours. They’re unique to you, and while many of your needs might be obvious, others aren’t so clear. Before engaging someone in a conversation about your relationship needs, start by identifying those needs.
Maybe you wish your significant other would show more physical affection when you’re out with friends. Or perhaps you need your parent to respect your space and give you more autonomy.
Strive to identify the need itself and how it makes you feel. If you have difficulty identifying what’s bothering you, talking to a psychotherapist can give you the tools to understand those needs more clearly and deeply.
Explain your needs clearly
Once you know what you need, you can then engage the other person in a conversation. Sometimes these conversations may come up spontaneously and other times, it could be helpful to agree on a time to talk so you both feel comfortable and fully present.
Use “I” statements to explain your need. “I” statements are about you and your feelings based on your own experience. Try to state how you feel and explain the reasons you feel that way.
It’s normal for this process to sometimes be anxiety provoking. If you’re worried about starting a conversation about your relationship needs, we’re here to help. In therapy, we help you navigate your feelings and build your communication skills to have more productive conversations.
Have an open discussion
After you share your needs, it’s time to open the conversation. Create a space free of judgment, and focus on communicating with each other to reach a solution.
Listen to the other person when they talk about their needs and feelings. Once you’ve both been heard and understand the other person, start working to find a compromise that better meets both your needs.
Remember that everyone’s needs are different. Some people might need more or less of certain things, and those needs may change over the course of their relationships. Over the course of long relationships, expect to have multiple conversations about what may be important to you.
You’ve shared your needs and listened to the other person’s. Now is the time to follow through, do your part to meet each other’s needs, and build trust in your relationship.
Some needs are flexible, but others may be non-negotiable. Identifying those ‘deal breaker’ needs and communicating them to the other person helps them learn what you need and establishes healthy boundaries.
Sometimes, people don’t meet your needs even after communicating with them clearly. Whether it’s because they can’t, or they’ve chosen not to, it’s important to recognize the situation in context so you can then decide how to navigate the relationship in a way that will be most productive and beneficial.
For more communication tips and relationship advice, book an appointment with our Beverly Hills psychology team. Call us at 424-331-1570 or request a session online now.