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Different Needs in a Relationship

Understand and navigate different needs or personalities
  • 3 April 2024
  • 4min

It's not uncommon to trust in the loving foundation of the relationship, and yet struggle together at time. Often there is a clear connection to different needs in a relationship and personality.

Which also might lead to different expectations in the relationship. Do you often exclaim "we are too different" when you end up in conflict or misunderstanding? You're not alone! Many conflicts stem from different needs in a relationship.

Studies show that relationships that work well are characterised by the ability to show acceptance and compromise on differences. But that doesn't mean it's easy!

The understanding of how you differ in your needs is key to a satisfying relationship. Understanding how you are different as individuals and what each one of you needs, helps you to do the right kind of loving actions for each other. What your partner appreciates the most may not be the same as what makes you yourself feel loved or cared for. It's not surprising that it's easy to get it wrong!

At the beginning of a relationship, we are often appreciative of each other. We want to understand one another, we try to be the person we believe our partner wants us to be and we also, naturally, respond to our partner's needs as best we can. After some time together, when the relationship has become more established, it is common for these efforts to decrease.

It is also not uncommon for the acts of love that one appreciates the most to change over time. In the beginning, it may have been hugs and kisses that made you feel most appreciated. Later in the relationship, maybe it's taking care of the dishes or just listening attentively when you talk about your day is what you appreciate the most. These changes often reflect different needs in a relationship as it evolves.

“We are too different” - How come we have different needs in the relationship?

How we are as individuals and our different needs in a relationship depends on several factors. Partly, inherent differences in temperament and personality contribute. A person who has always been lively and active is more likely to have a greater need for physical activity and may become restless if there is too little of it.

Differences in what one has experienced in life also play a part. It can be experiences during childhood, such as how one's parents communicated about emotions or regulated their own. A person who has learned that it is important to always speak their mind might have a stronger need for straightforward communication. A person whose parents on the other hand emphasised social adaptation to maintain a pleasant atmosphere may value being empathetic and friendly in their way of expressing themselves.

Experiences later in life may also affect what one need's in a relationship. It can be experiences during school years or in previous romatic relationships. Current circumstances, like having a stressful situation at work, can obviously also affect what you need from your partner.

Since we have different needs in a relationship that also changes over time, we need to keep each other up to date. For example, you cannot assume that your partner, who loved big parties when you met, will always value nightlife and socialising with others. When you are in the midst of the most intense years of having small children, the need for sleep may make the social need significantly lower, and a smoothly run everyday life your partner's first priority. Another common difference, which often becomes particularly obvious during the years of having small children, is differences in sexual desire.

How to increase the understanding of your different personalities and needs

Our best tips

  1. Find a situation where a difference has led to a misunderstanding, conflict, or an uncomfortable feeling
  2. Reflect on your own reaction in that moment. What did you feel then and there? What thoughts ran through your mind? What did you say or do?
  3. Try to take your partner's perspective. Before you start, remind yourself about the fact that deep down, your partner do wants what is best for you. Now, try to see what happned through the eyes of your partner. What might your partner have thought and felt? And how did those thoughts and feelings affect your partner's actions?
  4. Talk to each other about the situation as a team. Maybe you can learn something about each other that will prevent the same thing from happening again.

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