When your partner doesn’t meet your needs in a relationship, it’s tough. Even when you’re in a relationship, you can end up feeling isolated and alone. From the hug when you walk in the door to support talking through a family crisis; from sharing the financial load to really listening when you want to open up about your emotions or being willing to go to family functions by your side.
Your needs matter, and when you’re at a point where you feel like they’re being ignored, it can be crunch time.
Here are some tips for navigating the complicated scenario where your partner’s not giving you what you need.
How to know what your needs are
Now, let’s get clear on this first: before you start addressing a partner who doesn’t care about what you need, you need to know exactly what those needs are.
There is a world of difference between what we need and what we want. If we don’t have what we want, it will usually be okay. If we don’t have what we need, we won’t be okay.
Needs are things which you would rather be single than be without.
So, the way to establish what your needs are is to start by writing down a big list of everything you want from a relationship. In an ideal world, what is it you’d get from your partner?
Next, you’re going to review each want and then you’re going to drop below it to what it is that you actually need.
Here are a few questions to help you through from a want to a need.
- Why do I want that?
- What does that provide for me?
- What is the need that this quality fulfills?
Be careful not to over complicate. Just drop through really quickly. Try and trust that your unconscious knows what the underlying need is.
For instance, back when I made a list like this when I was single, one of my wants was that “he’s tall”.
When I did this exercise, I asked myself “Would I rather be single than being with a short man?”
No. So, it’s not a need.
What is it about him being tall that is important to me?
That he’s strong… that I feel small compared to him… – was what came to mind.
Is it really about feeling small compared to him? No, it’s not about that.
What is it? I realized that what I really need is to feel feminine.
One of the ways that might get expressed is through him being tall, but if he’s short and I feel feminine we’re okay.
Does that make sense? I dropped down through to what it was that I actually needed.
If I was in a relationship where there wasn’t room for me to feel feminine, I’d rather be single than being in that relationship. That was the need.
Many of those wants that you have on your list are going to end up being expressions of the same need, and you’ll probably find you get down to about five to eight core needs.
What to do when you know what your needs are
Once you’re clear on your needs, they become a really powerful tool.
If you’re in a relationship and your partner’s providing them, brilliant. Acknowledge them and celebrate that!
If you’re in a relationship and they’re not providing one of those needs, tell them why it is a need for you and they can choose to provide it or not.
You might find having done this process that the original need you were frustrated about not being met has shifted. Now, you know that you’re more in need of physical affection than a hug when you walk in the door. Let that be the start of the conversation with your partner.
If you’re not in a relationship, it’s a brilliant conversation to be having if you’re considering it being a long-term relationship. This is what I need. What do you need?
If they can’t provide what you need
There may be a situation where you recognize that someone can’t provide what you need on the list. You might be in a long-term relationship with someone and feel like you’re looking down the barrel of a gun.
“Holy crap, I know there’s something on this list that they actually can’t provide.”
What then? Allow me to introduce you to the paradox of needs.
The paradox of needs
The paradox of needs is this: You actually don’t need anything from anyone else.
Everything that’s on your list, you could actually provide for yourself. Think about that for a minute.
You don’t need anything from yourself even.
Actually, you don’t need anything at all.
There are things which sustain our body and keep us alive. But the thing about relationship needs is, you actually don’t need the other to provide any of that for you. You can have it all even without them.
But when you choose to be in relationship with somebody, then you can choose to have it as one of your frameworks: “Here’s what would really enhance my life. I would rather be single than not enjoy these things together.”
Can you see how that offers a much more empowering framework? If something happens to your partner and they can no longer provide one of those needs, or they’re not willing to change to meet that need, you could choose to end the relationship. You could choose to go and get that need met somewhere else. You can still choose to be love and keep loving.
Needs are a framework
Needs are a great framework for relationship. But even if you look at them and think, “I’m not getting them met right now!” that doesn’t mean you absolutely have to end the relationship. It means have a conversation.
Recognize with your partner that you need it and have conversations about whether they can provide it or not and is it possible for you to get it from somewhere else? If it is, are you still happy to stay in the relationship? Can you work on that together?
Now we’re getting into conscious creation of relationship. The kind ofrelationships that our spirits want to be enjoying on the planet. And that’s one of the most interesting conversations of all.
How about you?
Have you had an experience of your needs not being met in relationship? How did you navigate it? I’d love to know your story – share it in the comments below.
Our intention is simple. To support professional women to handle the day-to-day so they can unleash the bigger impact they feel called to make in the world.
We believe real leadership is less about skill, and more about having a well of physical, emotional, intellectual and spiritual strength to draw on. Every week we support thousands of grassroots leaders globally with our free articles, videos and online trainings with powerful tools and methodologies created BY women FOR women.
Become One of many™ women creating strong, meaningful connections in our community.