Improve your relationship by understanding your needs

We seek relationships to meet our needs. If our partners are unwilling to meet our needs, the relationship cannot thrive. Some people, however, might not have awareness about their needs, hence, having difficulty communicating them to their partner. 

Feelings When Needs Are Satisfied

The reason it’s important to satisfy our needs is because we feel emotional pain when they’re not met. You may feel pain and at the same time not know why or which needs are not being fulfilled. When our needs are met, we feel happy, grateful, safe, loved, playful, alert, and calm.

Feelings When Needs Are Not Satisfied:

How to distinguish which needs are most important to you?

You probably know about Maslow’s hierarchy of needs – physiological, safety, social, esteem and self-actualization. 

I personally like basic six human needs model, identified by Tony Robbins. I found it very helpful to recognize my two main needs that drive my behaviour. Also identifying other person’s predominant need will help you to improve the relationship with that person. 

Not only our happiness is based off whether these needs are being fulfilled, but our whole behaviour and way of thinking is driven by those needs.  

These needs are: 

  1. Certainty/comfort
  2. Uncertainty/Variety
  3. Significance
  4. Love/Connection
  5. Growth
  6. Contribution 

In order to better understand how these six human needs can be met within a relationship, we need to first explore these needs and what they mean.

Certainty and Comfort

Certainty is a predominant need for a human being because it ensures our safety, security, so we can avoid pain and gain pleasure.  People that seek certainty in faith and religion; have fixed set of rituals and traditions and feel most comfortable and at ease in a predictable, consistent environment, have certainty as their main need. Certainty plays a large role in person’s comfort levels.  


Need for uncertainty is a complete opposite of the fist, surprise, challenge, joy, excitement.  It involves the need to be spontaneous and adventurous. We crave the ability to surprise ourselves and have new experiences. The same activities everyday (i.e. routine) may cause a person to feel a sense of eagerness. It is important for humans to experience change and variety. 


The need to feel unique, to feel special, needed, acknowledged for our effort. We are all unique beings; it’s important to acknowledge this. When you hear from your partner complains like “Do even you need me?” “You don’t appreciate me” “Do you like what I’ve done?” –  it means you are not meeting their need for significance.

Love and Connection 

As humans, we like knowing that we are loved and cared for. We are social beings, so the connections we make throughout our lives are highly significant to us. We want to feel as though we belong, and this can be achieved through the connections we make. 


This is the need to grow and develop as a person. Growth means not only developing, but finding yourself. 


Similar to self-actualization, this need is about contributing and giving back to this world. 

Below is an extended list of need that will allow you to explore yourself beyond basic needs. Go through the list and pick anywhere between 3 and 20 needs you would like to fulfill in your relationship.


List of needs

celebration of lifeequalitynurturingspontaneity
choicegrowthpeaceto matter
companionshipindependencequality timewarmth

Once you have better clarity about your emotional needs, sit down with your partner and talk about the importance of meeting your needs in the relationship. It is best to approach the conversation from a perspective of wanting to express and share more love rather than pointing out a problem or complaining about the relationship.

If you feel as though your needs are not being met or you are not meeting your partner’s needs, it is time to sit down and communicate. Express which needs are being neglected and how this can be resolved. Ask your partner what their top two needs are; then express your top two needs. Come up with a plan in order to fulfill all of the needs mentioned. Once this is accomplished, you have already touched on a human need without trying; growth. By taking this step to work out your needs, you have grown and developed together. 

If you are not currently in the relationship it is still important to identify your needs based on your past experiences. Ask yourself the following questions:

  • What is the emotional need that I would like to have met?
  • In what relationships is this need being met?
  • In what relationships this need was not met?
  • How does it feel when this need is not met?
  • How does it feel when this need is met?
  • Am I meeting this need in myself? If so, how?
  • Am I meeting this need in others? (If your need is appreciation, for example, do you regularly appreciate others or do you hold back appreciation?)
  • What can I do in order to fulfill this need in myself?
  • What are the words I like to hear in order to fulfill this need?
  • What are the actions that I like to experience to fulfill this need? (For example, receiving flowers or a card makes you feel appreciated.)

The more we know ourselves and take responsibility for meeting our needs, the healthier and stronger our relationships.

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