What's Your Conflict Style?

Feeling Unsatisfied In A Relationship? - Emotional Needs In A Relationship

communication conflict relationships tools Aug 03, 2022

Feeling Unsatisfied In A Relationship?

If one of my clients says they are feeling unsatisfied in a relationship, I encourage them to explore if their emotional needs in a relationship are being met. Often unmet emotional needs can generate anxiety which in turn can create a host of issues and relationship patterns that cause problems. Consider that anxiety can come from one or more locations:

Body- this includes genetic predisposition, trauma and intergenerational trauma from your family of origin. This is often too complex or pre-verbal for it to be explored and understood directly.

Mind - this is the more typical way we understand anxiety, it's our anxious, fear-based thoughts worrying about the future, trying to predict what will happen. An alternate example is the inner critic which pushes and demands of us - these thoughts generate anxiety.

Emotions - our feelings can be a source of anxiety insofar as they are a clue to our needs not being met.

Emotional Needs In A Relationship

If you imagine being lost in a forest in the middle of the night, you will feel fear and perhaps a sense of panic. These feelings are rooted in anxiety, which in turn come from an unmet emotional needs of safety and shelter.

Signs Your Needs Aren't Being Met

You might not know what needs are not being met in your relationship, but one of the signs your needs aren't being met might be as simple as a pervasive sense of anxiety, or worry. This could be channeled into more bickering or fighting, perhaps one of you has triangulated in a third person to vent to, and sometimes this anxiety is turned into addiction or substance use.  These are all potentially signs your needs aren't being met

Tapping into the feelings and thoughts underneath that anxiety is going to be very important to shifting the dynamic in your relationship. A lot of my work as a couples therapist in West Hollywood, CA is having partners identify and then express their needs to each other. This is not to say that the other partner has to meet them or fill them, but the verbalizing or articulation of needs is sometimes enough to take the edge off the anxiety. 

Relationship Needs Checklist

One of the foundational solutions I offer couples is the Check-In, Check-List, a weekly structured exercise that guides couples through 10 questions to improve communication and lower tension. The Check-List is rooted in gratitude and positivity, forcing couples to shift their mindset around the relationship to one of growth and abundance 


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