The secret to having a long-term healthy, happy relationship with your spouse, as well as your business partner, family and friends, is to understand your personal and emotional needs and learn how to fulfill them in healthy ways. This also happens to be the best way to avoid toxic, energy-draining people and relationships. It all boils down to getting crystal clear on what your emotional needs are, how specifically you want those needs to be satisfied, and then putting in place firm and clear personal boundaries to protect you from those toxic relationships—the people who won’t respect your boundaries and have no interest in fulfilling your personal and emotional needs.
Easier said than done, true, but also not rocket science either. The first obvious step is to get some real clarity around your personal and emotional needs.
The late psychologist and researcher Abraham Maslow came up with a handy pyramid of personal growth.
At the base of the pyramid is our survival needs. And in a crisis, we revert right back to survival, stockpiling essentials to weather the storm. This is normal behavior as our need for safety, food and shelter will always come first. Once we’ve gotten survival under control, we scout around for our emotional needs, which include the emotional needs to be loved, cherished, appreciated, heard, understood, included, accepted, as well as the personal needs for balance, peace, order, control, to be right, independence, freedom, to be touched, held fondly, and so on.
There are over 100 different personal and emotional needs and about 21 that are very common.
Can you clearly articulate your top four personal and emotional needs?
Most of us realize that we have some version of the need to be loved, but other than that, we can be pretty clueless even about our own needs. Yet, we enter love relationships fully expecting our partner to not only intuitively know what our own emotional needs are but also to fully satisfy them. Not really fair given most of us can’t articulate what we actually need. You can begin to see why relationships break down and fail over time. In the initial stages of love, both bend over backwards to accommodate and please their partner. However, over the years, you might feel a burden of having to fulfill all your partner’s various needs, especially since you don’t even know the expectations.