In any romantic relationship, open communication acts as the lifeline that sustains love, understanding, and connection. When it comes to expressing our own feelings or needs, many of us hesitate, fearing vulnerability or misunderstanding. However, the importance of communicating our needs cannot be overstated. It’s the foundation upon which a healthy, fulfilling relationship is built.

Why Communicating Needs In A Relationship Is Important

Communicating your relationship needs is your only real ticket to a peaceful relationship that lasts a long time. That kind of peace that comes with getting everything you want simply because you asked for it. It comes with complete openness and vulnerability.

With this kind of magic, there are many ways a relationship benefits from communicating needs openly and regularly. 

Firstly, communicating needs helps prevent resentment. When we don’t express our needs, we often expect our partners to guess them, leading to disappointment and bitterness when those expectations aren’t met. By clearly articulating our needs, we give our partners the opportunity to understand and meet them, fostering a deeper bond.

how to communicate your needs in a relationship

Secondly, it enhances intimacy. Sharing our needs with our partner requires vulnerability, which, in turn, deepens our emotional connection. It’s a way of letting our guard down, showing our true selves, and inviting our partner to truly see us. This level of openness is where true intimacy flourishes.

Moreover, communicating needs is essential for personal growth and self-awareness. It requires us to reflect on what we truly desire and need in a relationship. This introspection not only strengthens our understanding of ourselves but also empowers us to advocate for our well-being within the partnership.

Lastly, it sets the stage for effective communication and problem-solving. When both partners are open about their needs, it becomes easier to navigate conflicts and find compromises that honor both parties. This proactive approach to addressing issues can prevent many arguments and misunderstandings, making the relationship more resilient.

Communicating needs in a relationship is not just about ensuring our happiness but also about nurturing a partnership where both individuals feel seen, heard, and valued

It’s about creating a space where love can grow unencumbered by unspoken expectations and misunderstandings. So, let’s embrace the vulnerability that comes with expressing our needs, for it is the gateway to a more authentic, intimate, and satisfying relationship.

High angle shot of an arguing couple with their backs turned on each other in bed

Signs Of Needs Not Being Met In Relationship

Ever feel like something’s off in your relationship but can’t quite put your finger on it? It might be a sign that your needs aren’t getting the attention they deserve. Here’s a quick rundown of clues that suggest your needs might be on the back burner:

  • Feeling kinda down or resentful a lot? That’s a big red flag your needs might be getting overlooked.
  • Chatting about the weather more than what’s in your heart? Lack of deep talk can be a sign.
  • Ever feel like you’re speaking a different language than your partner? Feeling unheard or misunderstood is a classic symptom.
  • Cuddles and deep talks becoming rare? A dip in intimacy signals something’s missing.
  • Arguing over who forgot to buy milk…again? Small fights can point to bigger issues underneath.
  • Putting your dreams or hobbies on hold for the relationship? You might be neglecting your own growth.
  • More tired than inspired by your partner? Relationships should boost you, not drain you.
  • Finding yourself daydreaming about emotional or physical connections elsewhere? That’s a sign you’re seeking what you’re missing at home.
  • Feeling like you’re solo in your struggles? Support is key, and if it’s missing, it’s a problem.
  • Avoiding date night or deep chats? It might be your way of dodging the discomfort of unmet needs.

Spotting these signs is step one. The next step? Having an honest chat about getting those needs back on the priority list. It’s all about teamwork, healthy communication and wanting the best for each other.

How To Communicate Your Emotional Needs In A Relationship

Talking about your emotional needs can feel like walking a tightrope, right? You want to be open but not overwhelming, honest but not harsh. Here are some communication tips to strike that balance and get your emotions and needs out in the open:

  • Know Your Needs: First up, you’ve got to figure out what you actually need. Is it more quality time, deeper conversations, or maybe more support with your goals? Get clear on that first.
  • Pick the Right Moment: Timing is everything. Choose a calm, distraction-free moment to have this chat, not in the middle of a heated argument or a stressful day.
  • Use “I” Statements: Start sentences with “I feel” or “I need” instead of “You never” or “You always.” It’s less about pointing fingers and more about sharing your perspective.
  • Be Specific: Instead of saying “I need you to be more supportive,” try “I would love it if you could ask me about my day and really listen.” Specifics make action easier.
  • Listen, Too: Effective communication is a two-way street. Be ready to listen to your partner’s needs as well. It’s all about give and take.
  • Follow Up: One chat might not change everything overnight. Keep the conversation going and check in with each other to see how you’re both doing.

Not sure where to start? Try my Values Clarification Workbook to discover your core values, feelings and needs in an intimate relationship.

Common Emotional Needs In A Relationship

Now, the big question of what your emotional needs even are. You know that you’re missing something in life, but you can’t quite pin it down into a sentence. That’s where the magic begins! Truly identifying your own needs and desires means that you can help yourself get them met.

supportive couple

Emotional needs can vary from person to person, but here are some universal ones that many of us are nodding our heads to:

  • Feeling Appreciated: Who doesn’t want to feel valued and acknowledged? Whether it’s a simple thank you or recognition of your efforts, it goes a long way.
  • Quality Time: And we’re talking undivided attention here, not just being in the same room scrolling through your phones.
  • To Be Heard: Really listening, not just waiting for your turn to speak. Understanding each other’s viewpoints deepens your connection.
  • Support: From cheering each other on to being there during the tough times, knowing you have a solid support system is key.
  • Physical Affection: Hugs, kisses, or a gentle touch on the back. Physical expressions of love are vital.
  • Respect: This one’s non-negotiable. Mutual respect is the foundation of any healthy relationship.
  • Growth: Encouraging each other to grow individually and as a couple keeps the relationship dynamic and fulfilling.

Remember, it’s totally okay if your needs list looks a bit different. The important part is recognizing them and having the courage to effectively communicate them. After all, getting your emotional needs met is about building a relationship where both of you feel happy, supported, and connected.

How To Express Your Sexual Needs In A Relationship

Use good communication to get what you really want. Gender stereotypes lead to a lot of preconceived notions about sex and relationships and how people think and feel. It’s important to unpack these stereotypes and discuss them, even while recognizing there are often differences between men and women in heterosexual relationships.

Here are some generalizations I hear quite often:

  • Men prefer sex with the lights on, while women prefer sex with the lights off.
  • Men prefer morning sex, while women prefer evening sex.

If pressed, I would add a third item to that list of common beliefs: men want to fuck, and women want to make love.

These statements hold true even without the gender stereotypes. Translated, “men want to fuck, and women want to make love” becomes “some people like to fuck, and some like to make love.” In truth, lots of people like both fucking and making love.

Without the gender stereotypes, we can have a much more exciting conversation. We begin to negotiate, so that everyone gets their sexual needs met. Communication can be so hot, even though it’s challenging. Some people get uncomfortable talking about what they want, or even admitting they don’t even know what they want. Some people feel guilty talking about it in our culture because unless it’s “married, heterosexual intercourse in the missionary position with the purpose of baby-making” we aren’t supposed to be having it or wanting it.

Common Sexual Needs In A Relationship

Assuming people can talk and negotiate, let’s look at solutions for these 3 phrases.

Some prefer sex with the lights on, while some prefer sex with the lights off.

Lots of people are turned on by the sight of their partner. It is exciting to be naked with someone who gets you going! But Not everyone feels that way. Some people might feel a little ashamed or embarrassed by their bodies and they want the lights off. A compromise can be useful. Could the lights be dimmed slightly? How about a blindfold, so the partner who doesn’t want judgment of their body will feel safe.

Some prefer morning sex, while some prefer evening sex.

Communicate why you like sex at these times and why you don’t. Listen to what your partner has to say about their reasons. Some might not want to get their clothes rumpled before they begin their day. Or they have to load more time into their routine to work it all in. Some find sex an energy drain and others feel it’s a boost. Some like to fall asleep afterward. Try weighting your preferences as some of the explanations could be perceived as more determinate than others. Negotiate a schedule based on the conversation you have. Maybe weekend mornings work better for those who work a 9 to 5. Maybe nighttimes work when you don’t have to be up early.

Some people like to fuck, and some like to make love.

This one requires good communication, as well. Sweaty, hot, carnal sex is fun. But so is slow, sensual, taking-your-time sex! Who says you can’t have BOTH? The more items on the menu, the more opportunities to try different things.

Bottom Line: Communication Is Critical.

Healthy communication is the foundation of intimate relationships. If you can effectively communicate, then you can come to a mutual understanding of what each of you feels is a healthy, satisfying relationship.

You may find that you just aren’t compatible with your partner as you cannot resolve the disparity in your relationship needs. Or you may find that you cannot even communicate effectively enough to negotiate such that all parties get satisfaction. And all parties SHOULD be getting satisfaction. Not getting satisfied over and over again builds up resentment. Then, out of nowhere, years down the line someone finally can’t take it anymore. To avoid this issue, clear that shit up early and often. That is the key to making a relationship last.

If you want to learn how to talk about this more or get comfortable doing so, look for Sex Coaches like me. Ask them about their training and background.

dr. lanae st.john

Ask them their thoughts on a topic to get a sense for how they think and make sure it matches with what you’re hoping to get out of working with them. There are coaches who work with many different audiences that do this work. Book a call with me to get started on identifying your needs in a relationship.


The MamaSutra

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About the Author

The MamaSutra

Dr. Lanae St.John is a Diplomate of the American Board of Sexology and certified sex coach with a background in sexology and a passion for helping people improve their sexual health and relationships. She is the author of "Read Me: A Parental Primer for "The Talk"" and the upcoming "You Are the One: How stopping the search and looking inside will lead you to your romantic destiny," and is committed to staying up-to-date on the latest research and trends in the field. Dr. St.John aims to share her knowledge and expertise in a relatable and approachable way through her blog on

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