How to Express Your Needs in a Relationship

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Some couples find it really difficult to articulate what they want or need from their partner.

Often times something is left unsaid leaving one feeling unheard and the other confused. Just know, your partner is not a mind reader, at least most aren’t. It’s important to clearly communicate your needs in your relationship to avoid feeling neglected, and eventually resentment towards the other partner.  

Here are a few tips that you can use when you try to communicate your needs with your partner. 

For a start understand  we are humans, and all humans have needs. So it’s really normal to have needs. Think and try to understand what your needs are in your relationship and be clear about them. You can only help your partner understand your needs,  when you yourself know what they are. Start the conversation gently. Verbalize your emotions and needs clearly to your partner by being very specific in what they are. Be specific about how you feel about them. Tell them about the intensity of the feeling. Give examples of your needs to paint a clearer picture, in necessary. Be very honest to them during this conversation. Help them understand how long you have you been feeling this way. 

During this time, do not blame your partner or make them feel like it’s their problem. Doing so, will put them on the defense. This won’t solve the problem but could potentially cause a verbal disagreement  and increase the problems. Be present doing this conversation and help your partner feel heard. When conveying your needs and feelings, start the statement with “I”, instead of “You”. Express how you feel, but avoid being critical. Communicate your sadness, loneliness, anger, or neglect. 

When doing all this, keep a few things in your mind: 

  • Be aware of your tone. 
  • Select a time of the day when your partner is not distracted and you have their undivided attention. 
  • Try making small requests at intervals rather than a huge one at a time. 
  • Give your partner the benefit of the doubt, we all have stressful days and events. They may have no intention of being you feel sad sad or neglected.
  • Do some self reflection. How do you communicate? What is your love language? What is your attachment style?
  • Allow your partner time to communicate their feeling or summarize what the other said.
  • Step away, take deep breaths, or table the conversation for a later time if the conversation devolves into a heated argument.

Other important factors include:

  • Avoid the need to defending yourself because defense does not encourage effective communication. 
  • Accept your partner will have a different perspective, so avoid the need to prove who is right or wrong.
  • As previously stated, don’t place blame on your partner. 

If you find communication continues to be a struggle in your relationship, individual and/or couples counseling may be helpful.

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