It’s very easy to confuse what are our wants and needs in relationships. We make a list of all the relationship needs and wants that are the most important traits we want in a partner, with very little concept of what we really need in our relationships. The list of relationship needs and wants often include items about physical appearance, the level of income or career, and may end with a general statement like “they make me feel happy.” I hate to break it to you, but you are the one that is responsible for insuring that you are happy and your needs get met. It is up to you to understand what you need in a relationship versus what you want, and it is your responsibility to effectively communicate those things. Let’s take a look at what constitutes a need. But first.
What Defines a Relationship?
Relationship is defined as an intimate association that provides emotional fulfillment that humans need as social animals. A relationship is the opportunity to satisfy the innate need:
- To feel loved
- Important to someone else,
- Satisfies our need to give to others emotionally
For a relationship to be successful, you need to have:
- Freedom to speak for yourself
- Freedom to follow your heart
- Freedom to make your own choices
What is a Need in a Relationship?
Webster’s defines a need as “something that a person must have: something that is needed in order to live, or succeed, or be happy.” A need is something that is essential and very important to live a healthy and satisfied life. For years psychology has been trying to determine what these essential needs really are. Some of you might be familiar with Maslow’s attempt to distinguish the order and importance of needs in his popular hierarchy as seen below.
What is a Want in a Relationship?
Webster’s dictionary defines a want as a desire or a wish for something. A want is something we might like to have rather than a requirement for healthy living. . The car that my partner drives has very little impact on the emotional and psychological support they invest in the relationship. Most of you are probably agreeing with me thinking, “Obviously, you can’t chose a man based on the car he drives!” You are right. But often times the differences between our needs and are wants are not as pronounced as this example. They walk a fine line and I dare say they even change from couple to couple.
What Do You Expect in a Relationship
I believe that we confuse relationship needs and wants so easily is because our culture teaches us to be impulsive and listens to our urges. Advertising consistently teaches us to enjoy the moment. Advertising, marketing and music are constantly trying to reveal areas where we are deficient so that we believe that we need their product. Relationships are not immune to the messages relayed in music, marketing and other forms of advertising. Propaganda does a great deal to affect how we view wants and needs in a relationship. Advertising messages give the message that we need to be having more sex, be flawless looking for our partners, and wonder why we are left with an aching feeling that we will never be enough.
Beliefs and Expectations in a Relationship
We all have certain beliefs and expectations about what we need and want in what kind of relationship we have. Our relationship needs are crafted by the media and relationships we have observed, whether in real life or on the television screen. Beyond that, we are also taught to just listen to our feelings, thoughts and impulses, which are often misleading. Our impulses, or wants in our relationships guide us in the moment, which may not always be helpful when trying to determine what do you want in a relationship.
A Relationship Needs and Wants List
Here are some critical thinking questions that can help you reality check whether your desire or impulse is a relationship need or a want. Here is how you determine your list or wants and needs in a relationship. Ask yourself the following questions when you are making your relationship needs and wants list:
- Is this item something that I need in my relationship in order to be satisfied?
- Is this item something that I can live without in my relationship?
- If I don’t get this thing what will be the result in my relationship>
- Is this a requirement for a healthy relationship?
- Is this an impulsive relationship act?
- Am I comparing my relationship to other’s relationships?
- Does this work in a real life relationship?
- What tells me or shows me that I need this in my relationship?
Determining the Wants and Needs in a Relationship
Lastly, do some research to understand both what do you expect in a relationship . Are you someone that tends to be either more anxious or more avoidant in relationships, and each have a unique set of needs that are essential for the relationship to thrive. There are many different types of relationships. Take time and do some serious soul searching to see what needs are absolutely essential to the satisfaction of your relationship also known as your needs, and what things are extra, better known as, what are the things that you want out of your relationship.