Thursday, April 7, 2011

The 5 Needs Of Every Relationship

Post written by Sherri Kruger. 

We’ve all had relationships that were easy, simple and seemingly effortless. You might even still be in one. I’m sure we’ve all had our fair share of relationships that tricky, awkward and downright difficult as well.
Positivity, encouragement and love are all things we need as people, as human beings. These positive feelings when expressed and projected on to others will help to form and maintain deep and meaningful relationships. Conversely, negativity detracts from this and creates a hostile environment in which relationships struggle and misunderstandings flourish.
This isn’t to say that if you are an overly positive, happy little ray of sunshine you’ll never encounter relationship issues. Even the best relationships have their ups and downs. No one is perfect and quite frankly it’s difficult to live with another individual with their own personality, unique history and life experience.
Here are five very basic needs when it comes to forming relationships with other people. If you find yourself in a relationship that is easy and effortless see how many of these needs you are both currently meeting. I’m willing to guess all if not a large majority of them. Similarly, if you are currently in a difficult relationship, which of these needs are not being met by your partner?  Which needs are you not meeting yourself?

5 things we all need in a relationship

1. To be heard. We all want to be heard. It’s what makes us feel validated and important. Think about the last time you spoke with someone and they were clearly uninterested. Maybe they were looking around the room, checking the clock, or constantly glancing at their computer screen. Whatever it was they were doing, it appeared to you as if they hadn’t heard a word you said and didn’t really care about what you were saying. It’s not a nice feeling. When you’re at home having a conversation be it with your spouse, partner or kids give them you’re undivided attention when possible. Get involved in the conversation show them you are really listening and that they are being heard.
2. To be valued. It’s difficult to get excited about being in a relationship with someone when you don’t feel you are being valued. If there is a lack of respect or little regard for your contribution to the relationship it can’t flourish. Are you valuing the person you are in a relationship with? Do you include them in decision making or planning for the future? Do you recognize their contributions to the family or home? Are you open minded and willing to accept a different point of view or idea even if it’s not your own? If not, your partner is likely feeling devalued and like their opinions don’t matter.   Try being more inclusive, show appreciation for the other person. A simple “thank you” when delivered in a sincere heart felt manner can go a long way.
3. To be an equal. This really ties into the need to be valued. As you enter into a relationship it’s clear that you are both individuals and bring a unique set of abilities, skills and talents to the table. A relationship without equality usually has one person trying to control the other. Equality in a relationship goes beyond splitting chores and other household responsibilities. It also includes:
  • making decisions together as a team
  • no one person being “the boss”
  • having and showing respect for the other person
  • giving space to the other person when they need it
  • asking – not telling or barking orders
4. To be understood. To truly understand someone we must be able to empathize, be willing to take a step back, separate ourselves from our own viewpoint and try walking in the other person’s shoes.  Truly listen when they are speaking and avoid getting defensive or becoming distracted by thinking of what you’re going to say in return. Spend time figuring out what makes them tick and understand why this relationship is important to them and to you. By trying to understand who you are building this relationship with you will be better equipped to make it work.
5. To feel safe. Safety in a relationship includes feeling physically safe as well as emotionally safe. Relationships don’t have to be about living in varying degrees of stress, apprehension or anxiety. Let people know that you will protect them, watch out for them and keep their best interests at heart – tell them. Let them know that you welcome them, imperfections and all and create a warm, secure place where you can just BE without judgement.
There are all sorts of relationships – marriage, parent-child, neighbors, employer-employee etc. and in each one the participants have these same basic needs.  If you have a strong relationship keep doing what you’re doing, don’t stop working at it since it’s all that hard work that made it so strong in the first place. Take a minute to think of the relationships in your life. Are there any that need to be mended? Are there some basic needs that aren’t being met, either by you or someone else?
Elsewhere: Cultivating a Life of Kindness With Your Kids – Guest post at Simple Mom.