How to Get Your Needs Met in Your Relationship

sign about how to get wants and needs met in your relationship


Learning how to get your needs met in your relationship will make you happier and more satisfied with your partner.

Do you ever feel your partner doesn't “get you” or doesn't care about what’s important to you. The more these thoughts consume you, the more hurt and angrier you become.  If that sounds like you, you'll love this post.  Let's dive right in.


Why this matters

Feeling like your partner isn't showing up for you really hurts.  It can cause a lot of bad feelings in your relationship. It can be even worse if you are the type of person that intentionally looks for ways to show love and appreciation to others. Many women in our society are socialized to take care of those around them and after a while, you start thinking, “What about me?” Well, you also deserve to have others take care of you.

I am grateful to have a partner that not only shows up when I need him, but also encourages me to tell him what I need. He’s made it emotionally safe to be vulnerable, and he enjoys helping me. 

However, we didn’t start out this way.  I struggled to express my needs and I ended up with lots of hurt feelings. We’ve worked especially hard as a couple throughout our 25-year relationship to have clear communication that’s filled with honesty and vulnerability. 

That might seem daunting, but you can also build the same type of relationship.  It won’t happen overnight, and it will take intentional effort.  But the payoff is fabulous!



Why we have conflict in our relationships

The cause of most of the conflict in relationships is not getting your needs met. If you peel back the layers and figure out what you are really fighting about, it boils down to your needs not getting met.  It might seem like you are fighting about something such as one of you being chronically late, or one of you forgetting a special event, but more likely, the real cause is you feeling you aren't valued or don't matter enough to your partner.   

Often, we recycle the same fight over and over again in different versions. You might fight about your partner being on their phone too much or watching too much TV, but the real issue is that they aren't paying attention to you.  Another example is fighting about sex.  One partner might want more sex and feel rejected if the other partner is tired. It seems like the fight is about sex but it really is about both partners not feeling like the other understands their needs. 

Everyone wants to feel seen and heard. When our partners ignore or minimize our feelings or what we want, we end up feeling like we don't matter. 




Why it's hard to ask for what we want

Our needs come in many forms and everyone has a variety of needs – emotional, physical, spiritual, intellectual, and relational.   Unfortunately, most people aren’t good at articulating their needs or asking for what they want.

Many people learn in childhood that they should stop expressing their wants and needs.  Furthermore, many people learn they shouldn’t have them, especially women.

Consequently, because people aren't taught how to ask for what they want, or because it isn’t encouraged, they grow up into adults that don’t know how to ask for what they want. We no longer know how to ask for help.

The irony is that our needs don’t go away, and we become very unhappy when they aren’t met. We become especially upset when the person we love more than anyone in the world doesn’t meet our needs.   

We end up feeling unappreciated and even, unloved. We may feel we don’t matter to them and that they don’t care about us.

"But wait" you say.  “I’ve told them a million times. They should know what I want.”

If this sounds like you, then you may begin to resent your partner if you mistakenly start to believe they are deliberately not meeting your needs.  However, more than likely, your partner doesn’t have any idea what you need. 

This may boil down to a communication gap if you aren’t clearly articulating what you want in language that your partner understands.  The great news is that you can fix this, and you can get your needs met in your relationship.




Many couples engage in a type of magical thinking where they think their partner should somehow know what they need. They expect their partners to be mind-readers, and then they become upset when they don’t magically know what they want them to do. 

If we think about this rationally, we know any type of mind-reading is impossible. However, time and time again, I hear different versions of this from my clients.

“He should have known I wanted to go out Saturday night.”

“I needed her to ask me how my big meeting went.  She knew how stressed I was.”

“He buys me the wrong gifts.  Doesn’t he know me by now?”

“I just want a hug and a kiss.  Is that too much?”

"The credit card bill is ridiculous.  Don't they know how hard I have to work?"

“If I have to ask them to do it for me, then it doesn’t count.”

“They didn’t thank me for making dinner.  Don’t they realize how much work it took?”

Our partners aren’t mind readers, any more than we are.

If you don’t tell your partner what you want and need, then how are they supposed to know what to do for you?  How can you get what you want if you don’t ask for it?


How to short-circuit mind-reading

We can short-circuit mind-reading and the resulting misunderstandings and hurt feelings by telling our partners:

  • what we need
  • what’s important to us
  • what we want

Plus, there’s an added bonus to doing this. Telling your partner what you need and asking them to do something for you communicates that you love and trust them. It communicates how important and special they are to you because you need them.

It highlights that they are the only person that can fill that need for you.

What a privilege that is.

Here's a little story to illustrate this.

Jenny loved to dress up and go out for a nice, romantic dinner.  Her spouse didn’t share the same enthusiasm  and the thought of planning a special night out for the two of them never crossed their mind. Jenny saw social media posts from friends about how amazing their partners were, how they surprised them with flowers or a special date night, and saw photos of them out for fancy dinners. 

She felt hurt at first, and then over time, began to resent her spouse for not doing these things for her. She told herself that if her partner really cared about her, they would know how important this was to her and how hurt she was.  She seethed in anger until finally, they had a fight about something else – taking out the trash – and she said, “You never take me out somewhere special.  You know how much I love that!”

Then, she stormed out of the room, and her partner stood there, feeling dumbfounded.  Luckily for Jenny, her best friend was really good at asking for what she wanted, so when an upset Jenny called her, she gave her the following good advice.



6 things to do to get your needs met in your relationship

  1. Figure out what you want. On the surface, this sounds simple and easy, and for some people, it is.  However, if you’ve spent a lifetime stuffing your wants and needs, this can be difficult. Ask yourself – “Is this a want or a need?” They are different.  The needs must be fulfilled in order for you to be happy whereas the wants are icing on the cake.
  2. Dig deep and do some soul-searching to figure out why that’s important to you. Sometimes, you may need to peel back a few layers and be a detective to figure out the real genesis of a specific want or need. Typically, they boil down to wanting to feel like you are valued and that you matter to your partner.
  3. Figure out why it might be hard to ask for what you want or need. What feelings come up for when you think about directly asking for something you want or need?  Are you afraid you are "too much" or that you'll be let down? Knowing why it's hard to ask will give you the insight necessary to get better at asking.
  4. Clearly and calmly articulate what you want and why. Take a deep breath and think before you talk. Try to come from a place of love versus launching an attack. 

Say something like:

“I love spending special time with you and I feel like we are both so busy that we don’t get to do that as much as I need to. I really want to go out for a special dinner date with you once per month and it would make me feel so good if you arranged it.”

Instead of:

“You never take me out anywhere special and I want to go out to a nice dinner once per month.  You need to arrange it because I always feel like I’m the one that has to do these things.”

The first statement is clear and communicates your love for your partner and your desire to spend time with them.  The second statement feels like and attack and will likely put them on the defensive.

5. Ask your partner if this is something they would be willing to do for you? They may have good reasons why they can’t do what you want, and these reasons may have nothing to do with you. For example, in the above example, your partner may feel inadequate choosing the right restaurant or knowing the right night to get a reservation.

They may be gun-shy because past attempts to choose a restaurant you’d like weren’t successful.  This may have caused them to think, “Why bother?”  You and your partner may need to talk this out so you can fully understand their perspective. After all, they also have wants and needs. You both may need to compromise.

6. If your partner can’t meet a specific want or need, is there a way you can meet it for yourself? Sometimes, we expect our partners to fill needs that we can fill for ourselves. Your partner can’t be expected to fill all of those needs for you. Some can be filled through friendships and other relationships. 

It’s important to be realistic about what your partner can and can’t do for you. Otherwise, you may get your feelings hurt if they don’t do something you want, even if it isn’t within their abilities. 


A word of caution

I'd be remiss if I didn't share a word of caution.  I'm describing getting your needs met in an emotionally healthy relationship.  If you don't feel emotionally or physically safe sharing your needs, then this article will feel a bit minimizing, discouraging and even unrealistic to you.

If your partner laughs at you, minimizes you, puts you down, tells you that you're wrong to have needs (aka gaslights you), or in any other way, makes it feel unsafe to be vulnerable and share your wants and needs, then you likely have bigger issues in your relationship that need to be addressed first. 

However, it's important for you to recognize that your wants and needs are valid and you deserve to have the critical ones met in your most important relationship.


Practicing what I preach

Today, I called my partner and asked him to drive 30 minutes to and from my office to bring me a bottle of Aleve and a cold pack.  I recently had back surgery and was in pain. Even though I could have raced home to get these items, I knew if I asked my partner to bring them to me, he would. 

But this never would have happened if I didn't tell him what I needed. 

So what's your takeaway? What's something you can implement in your life so you can get your needs met?

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