Feel Free To Ask For What You Need From Your Partner

By Dominica

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Last Updated: February 23, 2021

It’s alright to have wants and needs.  This is something that many people forget about, thinking that they are doing something wrong if they need something.  Or, they’re just afraid to ask for things, feeling like they’re not worthy to receive.

This article pertains more to couples.  One thing that many couples talk about in therapy is not feeling  heard or seen.  There tends to be something that’s lacking in the listening and/or communication skills.

Common complaints may be:

You never hear me!

I feel invisible.

You don’t care.

I’m afraid to even ask you for anything.

You always cut me off.

You have no clue how I feel.

I feel alone in this relationship.

Any of those feel familiar to you?

 

Learning to communicate

Learning to listen attentively and communicate effectively are two things that you want to do in order to enjoy a fruitful relationship. Not everyone learns these skills as they're growing up. In fact, about half of the population grows up in homes where they form insecure attachments with their primary caregivers.

Researchers state that this insecurity is likely to show up in adult relationships. If you're not aware of what's going on underneath the surface, it's likely that you'll find yourself either feeling unseen and unheard by your partner or you may not know how to communicate your wants and needs with your partner.

Let’s look at an example.

James and Rebecca have been in a relationship for two years. Both grew up in homes that weren't all that stable. Addiction, poverty, and mental illness were present. They were cared for all right, but because of the dynamics of the family relationships, they formed insecure attachments to their primary caregivers. In other words, they didn’t feel that safe internally.

James’s family never really communicated with each other authentically. His parents tended to sweep things under the carpet and let the kids fend for themselves while growing up. He was alone a lot and kept things to himself. As a result, he never really learned how to communicate his wants and needs. In fact, he gets very anxious when he has to express his feelings.

Rebecca also grew up in a dysfunctional home atmosphere. She experienced physical abuse for several years before her parents divorced. She also formed an insecure attachment with her primary caregivers, not feeling safe year after year.

She has an easier time communicating, as her mother was quite communicative. In fact, her mother overshared with her and now, Rebecca tends to do the same with James. He gets quite uncomfortable because she can become emotional and he doesn't know how to handle. It makes him tense up and shut down.

Both James and Rebecca have wants and needs in a relationship, but they're not really getting met. This has been causing problems for a while now. Rebecca feels like James doesn't listen to her or care about how she's feeling. James feels fine not having to share intimately with Rebecca. The thought of having to do so creates a lot of anxiety for him. Often, he feels trapped.

A lot of couples have this dynamic going on under the surface. Many of them won't make it, and will break up when things get quite challenging. Others will take this into therapy, which can be quite helpful.

You see, in a healthy relationship, two interdependent people may simply go to each other stating what they want and need.  They don’t have much hidden in the subconscious programming that gets acted out in ways that create conflict in the relationship.

For example, if they’d like to spend some quality time together, they can state this in a mature, healthy way. No games.  No drama. No resentment.

  • “Hey hun. I’m feeling like we haven’t connected in a while. Can we sit and have some time to chat tonight?”

“Sure babe. I’d love to!”

  • “Babe. Let's grab a latte and catch up.  We’ve been so busy I feel like we could use some quality time to connect.”

“Sounds like heaven to me hun. I’ve missed you.”

  • “Hey sweetie. I had a horrible day and am feeling rattled.  Could you come here and hold me for a few minutes?”

“Ah baby, I’m so sorry you had that kind of day and feel so awful.  I’m here for you. I’ve got you.”

You see the authentic communication, stating their needs in a healthy way? And healthy responses?

James and Rebecca may not have the skills just yet to do this.  Rebecca may hold things in till she can’t any longer and then explode in anger. She may scream, “All I’m asking for is for you to spend time with me! Why can’t you do that? I’m so tired of feeling alone!”

James may feel threatened by her need for closeness. This may cause him to isolate. He may also hold his authentic wants and needs in, repress his emotions, and fall into depression.

The underlying dynamics of relationships like this are a good reason to get to a good couples therapist to start diving into the healing work individually and together.

Ask For What You Want and Need

It’s alright to have wants and needs in a relationship.

If you need some quality time, you simply go to your partner in a loving way and ask for it. Partners should want to spend quality time together. As long as you’re coming from a healthy place, ask for what you want and need.

Learn to say, “Hey, I’m missing you. Can I see you tonight?”  or “Baby, I need a hug.” It’s alright to have and speak about these desires.

Giving myself this permission has helped a lot over the years.

Asking for what you need is necessary in a relationship. If it’s a healthy one, needs within reason ought to be able to be met by each partner. There ought to be a willingness for both parties to speak and perform each other’s preferred love language.  If there isn’t, the relationship will likely suffer.

What are your needs?

Are you able to tell your partner what your needs are?

Are your needs within reason?

Is your partner willing to listen to you and at least try to act according to your love language?

(Feel free to read The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman. EXCELLENT BOOK!)

Think about what it is you want and need in your relationship. Maybe it’s as simple as a hug once a day or a passionate kiss once in a while. Perhaps it’s help with the children and housework or quality time away from the kids once every couple of weeks.  Maybe you need a silent retreat once a month or a weekend get-away together.

Maybe you just need to feel seen and heard by your partner.

Whatever it is, speak it.

Here’s your permission to ask for what you want and need in a sweet and genuine way.

If you find yourself struggling, consider reaching out for help from a therapist.

 

Photo by Kate Kozyrka on Unsplash

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