5 emotional needs in a relationship you should know

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We all have our emotional needs; for instance, the basic survival needs like air, water, shelter and food are needed for us to stay alive. But we need more to give our lives meaning.

You can’t see or touch things such as affection, companionship, appreciation, or security, but they are just as valuable. The same goes for feeling valued or heard.

In a relationship, the strength of your bond goes a long way to determine when or how your desires are met.

Although all relationships are somewhat unique to every couple, these five emotional needs are a great starting point for determining whether you and your partner are both getting what you need from the relationship.

1. Affection

A lot of relationships involve different kinds of affection.

  • Kind gestures
  • Loving words
  • Physical touch
  • Sexual intimacy

Affection helps increase closeness and bond.

Every individual has their own way of showing affection, but partners tend to get used to each other’s unique ways of fulfilling this need.

A partner who doesn’t say ‘I love you,’ might show their affection through their actions and gestures, for instance.

If you feel a sudden change in the level of affection in your relationship, it may cause you to worry.

Many relationship issues arise from a lack of affection, and it’s pretty natural to wonder why a once-affectionate partner suddenly drifts away, becomes distant or avoidant of touch.

A conversation is an excellent place to start if you feel your partner is less affectionate than usual. Remember, you won’t know what’s happening until you ask.

2. acceptance

Knowing that your partner values you as you are can help build a sense of belonging in the relationship.

This emotional need doesn’t just mean that they accept you, but acceptance also means that you fit in with your partner’s loved ones and belong in their life.

You might feel an increase in your sense of belonging when they:

  • Introduce you to their friends and family
  • Plan activities together
  • Share goals and dreams for the future
  • Seek advice when making decisions

When you don’t feel accepted, you might feel as if you’re just in the corner of their life. This is not a comfortable place to be.

Some people have a hard time opening up, and they might have their own reasons for not telling you about some issues or including you in certain parts of their lives. All the same, feelings of not belonging can make it challenging for you to see yourself in the relationship long term.

You can try this strategy if you haven’t before; invite them to meet your family and friends. Use this medium to open a conversation about how you’d love to be more involved in their life.

3. Validation

Even the most loved-up partners don’t always see eye to eye, and that’s definitely fine. When you don’t completely agree on a subject, you still want to know if they’ve heard your complaints and understand where you’re coming from.

You might feel misunderstood when your partner fails to see things from your point of view. And you might feel ignored and disrespected when they dismiss your feelings entirely.

If you always feel validated, but this happens once or twice, then it’s possible that they are going through a rough time or a bad day. It doesn’t hurt to initiate a conversation, nonetheless, to share your feelings.

But if you constantly feel unheard and invalidated, you might begin to build up resentment, so it’s advisable to address the issue sooner rather than later.

4. Autonomy

As you go deeper into a relationship, you often start sharing activities, interests, and other aspects of your daily life with your partner. You might notice that you’re becoming more of a unit as your relationship deepens.

But no matter how tight the bond gets, it’s vital that you maintain your sense of self. While you may share lots of interests, you’re two separate individuals with unique friends, hobbies, values, and goals – and that’s a good thing.

When you start noticing that your identities are merging, take a step back to examine the situation. While this tends to occur naturally as you grow closer, it could also be a result of you wanting to be like them in order to succeed.

In reality, sustaining individual interests can fuel curiosity about each other, which can strengthen your relationship and keep it exciting. If you feel that you’re drifting from your old self because of the relationship, then set aside some time to restart a hobby or reconnect with friends.

5. Security

A healthy relationship comes with a sense of security, but security can mean many things.

When there is a sense of security in your relationship, you tend to notice the following:

  • Your partner respects your boundaries
  • They support your choices
  • You feel physically safe with and around them
  • You feel able and safe to share your feelings

Setting clear boundaries can help you increase your sense of security.

Seek professional help and support if your partner becomes abusive. Physical abuse is usually easy to spot, but emotional abuse is often harder to notice and can make you feel unsafe as well.

Bottom line

Getting your emotional needs met in a relationship takes the collaborative effort of those involved – you and your partner. And there’s no other way to achieve that than good communication.

Initiating a conversation about your wants and needs in a relationship is the best place to begin. If you can’t effectively share your feelings through simple conversations, then you’ll probably find it difficult exploring needs fulfilment together.

There are other feelings to consider in a relationship, and we’ll be discussing it in a follow-up article.

If you find it hard engaging in a productive conversation with your partner, seeking professional can be a good starting point. Talking to a counsellor can offer a safe and judgment-free platform to begin talking through your concerns.

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