Written by therapist Bria McCalpin

There may be a point in a relationship where you require specific needs, and they are not getting met by the person you want them from. Sometimes, we can be unsatisfied in relationships and find ourselves getting frustrated over time if the issue is not solved. Reflect for a moment about what is upsetting you in a relationship. Is it a lack of appreciation? Emotional support? Intimacy? Trust? These are all examples of some unmet needs that can be repaired by effectively communicating with that individual.

Every so often, it can be difficult to express what you need (and want) from any relationship. It is possible that your needs have been neglected for so long that you put yourself in the backseat, or a person does not know how to fulfill your needs. Here, we will consider how to prioritize your needs, no matter the type of relationship.

Recognize Your Needs

Prior to reaching out to the person you want to understand you more, it is essential for you to identify what areas in your relationship you believe need more attention. Because there are moments where we can deprive ourselves from meeting our own needs, tuning into yourself is a great place to start unpacking what you need. Having a comprehension of what is not being done in your relationship can help guide you in how to communicate those needs. Think of that person’s undesired actions and how they make you feel. For instance, if your friend does not look at you while you are talking. In this scenario, you could feel unimportant to them. You may need your friend to make eye contact with you, nod, ask questions, or give solutions so you feel acknowledged and like they’re listening and engaged in what you have to say.

If you find it helpful, you can journal or write down what you need to have a clear idea about what those needs are and be able to articulate what is bothering you. To start, ask yourself, “What would it look like if you can have anything you want in this relationship—with no restrictions or limitations?” and, “How would this look and what would it feel like?”

Become Comfortable with Expressing Yourself

One of the difficulties of communicating our needs is the worry of being, “needy,” “asking for too much,” or, “wanting to avoid hurting others feelings.” It requires us to be extremely vulnerable to another person when it comes down to naming our needs and expecting a change to occur. However, this is denying yourself and the progression of a relationship. You should never feel shame or guilt in verbalizing your needs. How can things get better if you are holding back? No matter how small or big your needs may seem, you deserve to have your needs met and feel satisfied in a relationship. Remember you have a right to ask, but also understand you may not always get your needs met in the exact way you want. Do not let this deter you though! This is where communication is significant.

Communicate Clearly

Now is the time to express your needs to that person. Having open communication about needs would look like choosing an appropriate time and place, concentrating on how you feel through the use of, “I” statements and clarifying your needs, and requesting or inviting them to problem-solve. When it comes to getting needs met, collaborating is vital. You do not want to enter this conversation blaming or demanding the other person, as this could influence them to become defensive or unwilling to contribute any solutions. If you recognize you are doing this or complaining, stop as soon as possible to communicate effectively.

Additionally, accepting your expectations may not always be what you wanted, but if the other person is willing, you can make an agreement about how to get your needs met in the relationship. With the right intention and execution—this conversation can bring the relationship closer.

Communicating your needs in a relationship is difficult work, but you can have a healthier and satisfying relationship from it. Everyone has needs and acknowledging the importance of them allows you to learn more about yourself and maybe the other person too. It is good to remember you deserve to have your needs met in any relationship. However, if you find that the other person is unwilling to compromise or cooperate with you, or you would like more assistance in communicating, contact Optimum Joy to find a therapist who can support you in this issue. 

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