Society sends a lot of conflicting messages about relationships. We’re often told that we’re supposed to be completely independent, and need little from our significant other. Or, we may get the idea that we should be selfless and always put our partner, along with everyone else, first.
The truth is that in a healthy relationship, there’s some of both. It’s appropriate to compromise on some things to keep your partner and your relationship happy. It’s healthy to get needs such as intimacy, support, and affection, met by your partner. You need to realize that having needs is not selfish, weak or being too dependent on your partner. After all, why else would we be in relationships?
However, when we’re giving up too much, within or outside of the relationship, this may cause resentment and conflict over time. There are ways you can prioritize your own needs, while keeping a healthy connection with your partner.
Identify Your Unmet Needs
Consider which of your needs within the relationship aren’t being met. Common things people want and need from their partner include affection, acceptance, emotional support, as well as everyday assistance (such as with childcare, housework, and managing money).
Also examine what needs aren’t being met outside of the relationship but relate to your partner. For example, perhaps you need your own time to reflect or meditate, or to see friends. This may require your partner to give you space or take care of additional responsibilities you’re currently managing.
Finally, identify needs that are ultimately up to you. Perhaps you want to exercise, journal, speak your mind more often, or talk to a counselor. Sometimes these are easy fixes, and don’t depend on your partner at all. Or perhaps you’re giving up some things that are important to you in order to sacrifice for the relationship. Giving up on things you value can eventually cause resentment towards, and negative interactions with your partner.
Express Your Needs to Your Partner
Take responsibility in your own mind for meeting your needs. Your partner may be a factor when it comes to your needs being met, but it’s up to you to set your own expectations and boundaries.
It may seem that your partner should already know what you need, but often that’s not the case. Misunderstandings are common even in long term relationships. Rather than blaming your partner for the past, express what you need going forward, kindly and openly.
Honor Each Other’s Boundaries
Hopefully, your partner can support many of your needs, especially when it comes to closeness in the relationship. On occasion, your partner may not be able to help with your needs in the way you prefer. They may have their own conflicting needs or values in the situation. If this is the case, you may have to get creative and compromise. If appropriate, you might still be able to meet certain emotional needs on your own.
The most important thing is to notice when you begin to feel overwhelmed or resentful. These are clues that you are not being true to yourself and ignoring unmet needs. Make it a priority to take care of yourself. In the long run, this will help your relationship as well.
Counseling Can Help
It can become complicated when you’re trying to deal with the needs and feelings of two people. Often conflict can arise, even when both partners have good intentions. If conflict is interfering with your happiness in the relationship, counseling can help. Contact us today to learn how you can better support each other.
The Relationship Suite
We are a group of skilled therapists specializing in couples/marriage counseling. Since Covid started we have been working with couples providing Online Couples Counseling in New York, New York City including Manhattan, Queens, Brooklyn, Bronx, Staten Island, Long Island, South Hampton, East Hampton, Montauk. Schedule a complimentary consultation by clicking HERE.
Due to Covid we are also providing Virtual Couples Counseling in New Jersey, Hoboken, Jersey City, Princeton, Chatham, Morris, Westfield, Union, Bergen County, Colts Neck, Tenafly. Schedule a complimentary consultation by clicking HERE.