Getting your essential needs met, and compromising in other ways to make your partner happy, is the secret to long-lasting love and happiness in a relationship. In other words, it’s a healthy balance of self-love and partner-love.
(For a refresh on where this soul-searching adventure began, click here to reread PART 1.)
After identifying that necessary balance, I looked around and found that we all have essential needs, and we all need each other. Somehow, having needs had turned into being needy – which has gotten a bad rap.
It became clear that if I didn’t speak up about my needs, my relationship would fall apart. From this new perspective, I found the courage to request what I needed from my boyfriend.
Here ‘s what I said to him, and you’ll never guess his response…
It had been 4 months since I’d seen or spoken to my boyfriend. I had broken things off because I had been unhappy. Luckily for me, he doesn’t give up and he reached out to say hi.
To my own surprise, I was delighted and excited.
The next day, I found myself sitting at his kitchen table talking about what hadn’t worked for me in the past. Putting aside my feelings of being selfish and undeserving, I told him about one of my essential needs: I had been feeling suffocated by his desire to be together all the time. I needed time with friends and family as well as time with him.
His response? “What took you so long to tell me this?”
Um… uh… ahem. Point well taken.
His next question? “What else haven’t you told me?”
Hmmmm… When I thought about that question, I discovered a few more things, er, well… actually 7 more needs I had suppressed. I wanted to vocalize them, and I was concerned about how my guy would take it all. I didn’t want to hurt him in the process.
We set a date a few days later to discuss what each of our essential needs were.
I was intent on communicating in a kind and loving way. I didn’t want to be accusatory. You know, those “YOU always blah blah blah” statements that invariably cause defensiveness? That type of conversation would go nowhere.
I started each point with an “I statement” about what I needed. I followed that with how it made me feel when I didn’t get that need met, and how it made me feel when I did. Additionally, I acknowledged my guy for being the loving, caring, amazing man that he is. Here’s a sample:
I had been feeling suffocated by his desire to be together all the time.
THE “I” STATEMENT:
I told him that it is important to me to spend time with friends and family in addition to being with him. I need and want a big life full of friends, family, and a wide variety of conversations, new connections and range of experiences. This is how I grow and expand all the parts of me.
When we have too much togetherness, I feel stifled, restless and small.
When there’s a balance, I feel excited, alive, passionate and energized.
I went on to underscore my feelings for him by telling him that I love him. He is so much fun to be with. I admire his extraordinary stand for partnership and the grace with which he does it, and his openness, commitment and courage.
I felt our bond deepen through this intentional, open, warm-hearted exchange. It elicited more honor and respect for one another.
I discovered that expressing my needs to my partner and feeling heard was liberating and empowering.
Plus, what seemed like an enormous request was met with, “Sure, I can do that.”
What stops you from expressing your essential needs? Drop me a note in the comment box below.