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What are relationship needs?

We all have different ideas of what we want our relationships to look like. These are called relationship needs or expectations. We have many needs, and often our relationships cannot fully meet all our needs. In friendships, we might have different needs and different relationships to fill those needs. Some people for example might have friends to talk about their emotional needs with, friends to have fun with, and friends to have career or professional development discussions with. Some friends might fill multiple needs, but few might fill all those needs. It’s the same idea in romantic relationships. We might find ourselves compromising with partners to meet our needs or even changing our relationship agreements.  For instance, many couples may decide to have a non-monogamous agreement because some of their needs were not with a previous or different agreement. However you decide to meet your needs, the main importance is that you make sure to get on the same page as your partner(s).

Why should I discuss my relationship needs with partners?

Discussing relationship needs with partners is very important for several reasons. First, it is important to let your partner know what you ideally want out of a relationship. You have the right to a relationship that makes you feel happy and fulfilled, but this can only happen when you tell your partner what you want (partners can’t read our minds!). Second, when we are honest about our needs in relationships, we can avoid misunderstandings and hurt feelings in relationships. These can lead to things like resentment, broken agreements, and even breakups. Finally, it’s important to understand your needs because needs tend to change over time, and we should be able to communicate these needs to partners (or anyone else impacted by them).

How can I discuss relationship needs with partners?

The first thing to do when discussing needs with a partner is reflect on your needs. Before we can communicate needs to our partners, we need to know what our needs are and why they are important to us. Next, setting a time to discuss needs with partners can make it easier to bring up the conversation. Many couples find it useful to have check-in conversations frequently to ensure they’re still on the same page. Third, some couples find it useful to put together a relationship agreement to facilitate this conversation. Lastly, couples therapy can be very helpful to work through relationship needs and agreements.

This page is also part of the Roamers Therapy Glossary; a collection of mental-health related definitions that are written by our therapists.

While our offices are currently located at the South Loop neighborhood of Downtown Chicago, Illinois, we also welcome and serve clients for online therapy from anywhere in Illinois and Washington, D.C. Clients from the Chicagoland area may choose in-office or online therapy and usually commute from surrounding areas such as River North, West Loop, Gold Coast, Old Town, Lincoln Park, Lake View, Rogers Park, Logan Square, Pilsen, Bridgeport, Little Village, Bronzeville, South Shore, Hyde Park, Back of the Yards, Wicker Park, Bucktown and many more. You can visit our contact page to access detailed information on our office location.