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   Home  > Tips

Relational Needs

We all recognise that we have physical needs such as sleeping and eating, but have you considered that you have relational or emotional needs. These needs can be summed up in a number of different ways. For example four key needs are for to be loved, to be valued, to have autonomy (to make our own choices) and to have a purpose.

Another picture is the top ten relational needs:

When our needs are met we generally feel good, secure, happy. When our relational needs are not met, we feel bad, insecure, sad, angry, anxious.

What do you think are your top three relational needs? How could they be met by your spouse? Do you know what are their top three needs? How could you go about serving those needs for them?

Well thatís all fine when things are going well, but how do we react when our needs arenít being met? Here are three ways that we often respond.

We can behave badly because we are determined to get our needs met NOW. Have you demanded attention like this lately? This is being selfish.

Perhaps we pretend that we donít have any needs. We pretend or even believe that we are self sufficient.

We may even have such a poor view of ourselves that we believe there must be something wrong with us having these needs. We tell ourselves that we must stop being the sort of person who has these needs and become tougher.

One way of understanding our emotional needs is to see ourselves as having a cup inside us. When we experience others love for us and our emotional needs are being met through our relationships, that cup is full of good feelings. When our needs are not met that cup is full of negative feelings.

What is your emotional cup filled with? If itís full of negative emotions, what can you do about it?

  • To remove hurt you need comfort
  • To remove anger you need to forgive
  • To remove guilt you need to say sorry
  • To remove anxiety you need someone to share it with
  • To remove stress you need someone to help you

Picture produced by permission of Intimate Life Ministries UK, Leamington Spa.

While itís unhelpful to demand that our needs are met or to pretend that we donít or shouldnít have them, it can be helpful sometimes to tell our partner what our needs are. For example if we are feeling hurt, we might let our partner know or even ask for a hug. When things are strained between us, it needs one of us to make the first move. It may be hard when all our needs are crying out for attention, but reaching out to give a hug may help the healing process while meeting our own needs.

When our relational needs are met then there are positive outcomes for our relationship, but when they are not painful outcomes can ensue. Can you think of a recent example when your needs were met and there was a positive outcome for your relationship?

This article is based on material from Intimate Life Ministries UK, Leamington Spa.

Tip by Liz Percival


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