Every relationship is different. But there are some fundamental emotional needs that all humans share in common, needs that must be met in order to feel fulfilled by a romantic partner. Here are five emotional needs that couples should be aware of, and work to accomplish for each other.
1) The need to be heard
To feel appreciated and important to your partner, you need to feel heard. Obviously you don’t need to need to agree with everything your partner says, but you do have to listen. And you do have to respect his or her opinion. This means actively listening to your partner, reflecting on what you’ve heard, and implementing a solution or using this information constructively in the relationship going forward.
2) The need to belong and feel accepted
Each partner needs to feel like they are accepted by their partner for who they are, regardless of flaws, imperfections, or insecurities. Members of a couple should feel that they are a part of something bigger than themselves. Each partner needs to feel at home in their relationship, and comfortable enough to share what they think and feel, without judgment or rejection.
3) The need for safety/trust
Similarly, each partner needs to feel that they can trust the person they are romantically involved in, and that they are safe in their relationship. This can mean many things to every person, but might involve feeling secure in your relationship, safe to share whatever you please, including all thoughts and feelings. We all know that trust is essential to any relationship, romantic or otherwise; therefore, each member of a couple needs to be secure in their faith in and trust that the other will protect them, and make them feel loved.
4) The need to be valued and prioritized
It is of the utmost importance for any individual to feel that they are important to their partner, and that they come before other people, other commitments, and other aspects of their partner’s life, within reason. This is not to say that an individual should not have a sense of independence, or friends, or a life outside of their relationship, but each partner should feel valued by the other, and know that if they need the other, they will be prioritized.
5) The need to feel desired
Finally, it is important for the members of romantic couples to feel desired by their partner, or to feel a level of intimacy with their partner. This does not necessarily have to involve sex. Intimacy can simply mean closeness, or closeness in a private way. Something as small as a hug or kiss can be intimate, or even a glance shared across a crowded room. It is an important part of any healthy relationship for a partner to feel desired on an intimate level.
Konstantin Lukin, Ph.D., is a licensed clinical psychologist in Ridgewood and Hoboken, NJ. He has extensive clinical and research experience spanning individuals of all ages, in both inpatient and outpatient settings. He specializes in men’s issues, couple’s counseling, and relationship problems. His therapeutic approach focuses on providing support and practical feedback to help patients effectively address personal challenges. He integrates complementary modalities and techniques to offer a personalized approach tailored to each patient. He has been trained in cognitive-behavioral, dialectical behavior, schema-focused, and emotionally focused therapy, and has also been involved with research projects throughout his career, including two National Institute of Mental Health-funded studies. He is a member of the Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies, New Jersey Psychological Association, Northeast Counties Association of Psychologists, New York State Psychological Association, The International Centre for Excellence in Emotionally Focused Therapy, The New York Center for Emotionally Focused Therapy, the International OCD Foundation, the Association for Contextual Behavioral Science (ACSB) and a regular contributor to Psychology Today.