| April 10, 2013

What is the element that almost guarantees the success and longevity of any relationship? It is fulfilling the emotional needs of our significant other.

When we feel good and fulfilled in any relationship, it is because our emotional needs are being met, and when we feel empty and unfulfilled, it is because our emotional needs are not being met.

READ: Love (and Sex) That Lasts a Lifetime

Stop for a moment and think about your past relationships. Do you see a correlation between your happiness and the fulfillment of your emotional needs?

Have you ever had the experience of finding yourself in the same relationship over and over again, despite how different your partners may have seemed at first glance? If you think about it, you will likely see a pattern that revolves around not getting one or more of your emotional needs met. If you look closer, these are probably the same needs that were left unfulfilled in your childhood. 

Could it be that you have been going from one relationship to the next in search of getting your needs met, yet you keep picking partners who just don't know how to meet your emotional needs? There is nothing wrong with you. The simple reason that we pick partners who do not meet our emotional needs is that we get stuck in a dynamic of trying to get something that we never had, like chasing the carrot on the stick.

It is time to get your emotional needs met and experience your best possible relationship! So, what emotional needs are we talking about?  Emotional needs vary from person to person, but the most common emotional needs are appreciation, understanding, being heard, acknowledgment and respect. All of these needs represent a particular manner in which we show and express love.

READ: How to Keep the Spark Alive in Your Marriage

Mutually meeting emotional needs in any relationship fosters intimacy, trust and a feeling of great satisfaction. On the other hand, the opposite of meeting emotional needs — criticism, undermining, minimizing and disrespect — all cause separation, resentment and a lack of trust. When we understand this dynamic, we are immediately empowered to improve any relationship.

If you find that you are in a relationship where your needs are not being met, the first thing to do is understand those needs yourself. If you are not meeting them yourself, how can you expect anyone else to meet them?

Look at which needs you feel are not being met. Do you often feel unappreciated, unheard, misunderstood or disrespected? You might find that an unmet need appears as a theme in more than one of your relationships. Once you determine which need hasn't been unsatisfied, don't throw a pity party. Instead, celebrate that you are one step closer to emotional fulfillment.

Ask yourself the following questions:

  • What is the emotional need that you would like to have met?
  • In what relationships is this need being met?
  • In what relationships is this need not being met?
  • How does it feel when this need is not met?
  • How does it feel when this need is met?
  • Are you meeting this need in yourself? If so, how?
  • Are you meeting this need in others? (If your need is appreciation, for example, do you regularly appreciate others or do you hold back appreciation?)
  • What can you do in order to fulfill this need in yourself?
  • What are the words you like to hear in order to fulfill this need?
  • What are the actions that you like to experience to fulfill this need? (For example, receiving flowers or a card makes you feel appreciated.)

Once you have better clarity about your emotional needs, sit down with your partner and talk about the importance of meeting your needs in the relationship. It is best to approach the conversation from a perspective of wanting to express and share more love rather than pointing out a problem or complaining about the relationship. Remember, you don't just want to get your emotional needs met, you also want to meet your partner's needs so that you both experience fulfillment.

If you have known this person for a while, you probably can figure out what his/her needs are based on the things they say when you are having arguments. Still, even if you know what your partner's needs are, allow him/her to explain in their own words.

This does not mean that you are responsible for each other's needs. Don't be fooled to think that because someone loves you, they know how to treat you. Love doesn't make you a mind-reader, so ask and share. Ask your partner how he or she wants to be treated and share how you want to be treated in return. The good news is that once you recognize your most important emotional needs and that of your partner, you can create a plan so both of you get your needs met and you both feel fulfilled. After all, everyone just wants to be loved. When we know how to love each other, we create the space for long-lasting, harmonious relationships.