How To Get Your Needs Met By Focusing On Your Partner's Needs

It can be a common experience for couples to think and feel ‘‘my needs aren’t being met so why would I go out of my way to meet my partner’s needs?” This thought process highlights one of the major challenges of relationships: managing the needs of both partners to promote mutual satisfaction.   We tend to seek out and engage in relationships in order to fulfill specific needs we have, which tend to be made up of emotional, physical, spiritual, and social aspects of our lives.  When we find our relationships to be rewarding, it is generally because we are benefitting from them in some way, which tends to mean that one or more needs we have are being met. 

Along the same lines, we start to question our relationships when we feel less satisfied as a result of our needs not being met.  When this happens, we tend to express more complaints and place more demands on our partners, which often promotes emotional and physical disconnection and therefore creates the opposite effect of what we are seeking in our relationships.   It can often turn into the mindset of “which came first, the chicken or the egg” in which we think, “I would be willing to put in effort to meet my partner’s needs if they meet my needs first.”  This type of thinking can put barriers between partners rather than motivate partners to accommodate one another.

When we feel understood and cared for by those we are close with we tend to be more open to reciprocating that same process to others, even if it means that we may have to go outside of our comfort zones to do so.  So try applying this line of thinking to your relationship: whenever you are feeling like your needs are not being met by your partner, instead of nagging or making demands for your partner to do more of what you want, consider that your partner may be feeling similar.  Then challenge yourself to identify one or two specific needs that are important to your partner and make an effort to meet them.  For example, if quality time is important to your partner, arrange your schedule to spend uninterrupted one-on-one time together.  This action will send the message to your partner that you care about them because you understand what they need from you.  And like I previously stated, your partner will likely reciprocate by focusing on meeting your needs as a result of feeling understood and cared for by you. 

So the next time you are feeling unhappy, frustrated, or even resentful of your partner because your needs are not being met, consider refraining from acting on any urges to complain about it to them and instead make a genuine grand gesture by directing your attention and effort to meeting one of your partner’s needs.  Not only will you feel positive about doing something thoughtful for your partner, but you will also create opportunities for your partner to focus on how they can meet your needs.

~ Cory Stege, M.S., LMFT