Relationships are a complex topic that could easily encompass many volumes of a lengthy encyclopaedia. However I’ve found through my own experience that by simplifying things, it’s much easier to find a good balance.
Just over 6 years ago when I found myself in a failing relationship I decided to study what it takes to make a relationship work. After all I had never learnt how to maintain healthy relationships from school or from my parents. The knowledge I gained from several sources did help me determine that the relationship I was in at the time was not right for me or my ex-partner, and has definitely improved the quality of the intimate and platonic relationships I now enjoy.
In my view relationships all boil down to communication; men and women are very much out of harmony with each other. It is clear that most men are very different from most women. It is not just the way men or women think that’s different, but also the energy we resonate with is completely different - though there are exceptions to every rule.
Men and women have for the most part different methods of communication. Listing all the communication styles people use is beyond the scope of this article, however as a rough example:
It has been statistically proven that most (not all) men are less emotionally and socially aware than most (again not all) women, and most women are not aware of this fact. So when a man does something small to upset his woman that he may not be aware of (and I’m not talking about obvious things like cheating!) – she assumes his emotional/social awareness is on par with her own and that he should already know that whatever it is he did has upset her, when he doesn’t show signs of remorse – she will give subtle hints to let him know she’s upset. Men on the other hand tend to think a bit like robots and need things to be spelt out as that’s how they communicate amongst themselves. So he will ask “What’s wrong honey?” and she will respond “NOTHING I’M FINE!!!!” waiting for him to realise and rectify his mistake – which invariably will lead to an argument rather than a fast and effective solution.
I’ve noticed more recently that people seem to be aligning themselves in romantic relationships that lack the essential ingredients to keep both partners emotionally and mentally satisfied. I’ve seen people spring board in and out of relationships several times in a single year… As such I decided to share some of the basics I learnt through study and personal experience.
Essentially it's all communication. Think of communication as the glue that holds all the various aspects a relationship needs in order to remain healthy, balanced and in harmony. When we break up communication into specific needs – we get the following list:
The need for comfort, security and consistency within the relationship. This basic need relates to knowing exactly where you stand with your partner and knowing you can rely upon them in any given situation.
This is the need for surprise, uncertainty, excitement - that will challenge and exercise your emotional and physical ranges. It is important to experience a variety of emotions – these can be triggered in many different ways, such as; going to a stand-up comedy show, taking a class together, going on holiday, going out dancing, cooking together, being physically intimate, playing games together, doing extreme sports etc.
This is the need to feel important or special within the relationship. Every person needs to feel wanted and worthy of love. Making your partner feel special is both important and easy; the words “I love you” and beyond words – actions such as displays of affection and going out of your way to make them feel special by preparing a surprise dinner (not just on Valentines or their birthday).
Most people don't understand what makes their partners feel loved and don't give love in a way that their partner understands. Everyone needs connection with other people and strives for feelings of understanding and love. Feeling connected to your partner is essential, it’s important to understand and be understood – this is the basis of having a connection.
When we stop growing we die; the relationship needs to be in a state of constant growth - intellectually, emotionally and spiritually. It’s not important how quickly the growth happens, so long as it is happening. Intellectual growth can be encouraged through stimulating discussion and brainstorming to name a few. Emotional growth is all about finding and understanding new depths to your partner and your own emotions; be creative and find new ways to express yourself and to understand your partners emotional expression. Spiritual growth can be achieved in several ways depending upon how open minded you are and what you believe in; for some couples this might be going to church, for others couples, meditation, or going on an Ayahuasca retreat together. There are many options for spiritual growth beyond going to your Sunday service at church.
This is going beyond your own needs and giving to your partner in way that you don't give to others outside the relationship. It’s important to give to your partner in a unique way that differs from how you give to friends. By giving I’m not strictly referring to material gifts. You can give in many different ways; letting your partner eat the last olive even though you really wanted it yourself, or giving your partner a foot massage (unless you work as a masseuse I’m sure you wouldn’t go giving your friends/colleagues a foot massage).
All of the above needs are interdependent – for example by meeting the needs of variety you will also be earning some brownie points in the need for growth. By paying a balanced amount of attention to each of the 6 needs; all of the needs automatically get a boost because of this connectedness.
For a relationship to remain alive the first 4 needs must be regularly met. Most people value 2 needs above all, these 2 primary needs are the driving force behind a person’s behaviour within a relationship. Take a look at the needs once more and select a primary need that's important to you, then a secondary need that you feel is important.
This is where the default wiring of men and women start to show; most men choose significance as their primary need, then followed by variety. Women typically choose Connection/love as their primary need, then Certainty as their secondary need. If the needs you chose don’t fit the above then you are one of the few exceptions.
Relationships have to be managed, nurtured and cared for by both partners. By understanding your own needs and the needs of your partner, it becomes easier to build a long lasting and fruitful relationship.
I believe so long as you and your partner are in alignment at the core of who you are (beliefs) and actively work to meet each other’s needs, then you are more likely to keep the love new and everlasting.
A simple exercise you can do right now is to mark on a scale of 1 to 10 how you think your partner meets your needs, then mark how you think you are meeting your partner’s needs based on this list. It's important to be honest here because you will only be short changing yourself.
Finally you should get your partner to complete the same exercise and then you can both compare notes. Don’t be surprised if your scores differ drastically from your partners’. This exercise isn’t the basis to start an argument, rather it must be used as a pivot to shine the light of understanding on each other’s needs in order to bring you closer together; strengthening your bonds and creating a new adventure that’s going to move you both toward a more balanced, happier relationship oozing with that gooey stuff called Love.
Remember that no relationship is perfect, challenges are designed to inspire us to become more, by learning more. No matter how you get there, all paths lead to the same destination – Love.
PS: Use this list to get to know yourself and what’s important to you. Before you can let anyone else try to understand and love you – you should understand and love who you are. Even if you disregard everything else in this article – this should be the one thing you take note of and immediately go to work on.
PPS: I am not an expert on relationships, but I am a complete expert on something no one else on the plane is – and that is myself! I completely understand myself and humbly present my life experiences in way that I hope you can easily understand and make use of.
This is the second lengthiest article I’ve written for Sifume so far… If you’ve gotten this far – congratulations should our paths cross someday I’ll tell you funny story… seriously though, thank you for taking the time to read this, it’s always an honour to share and be heard.
Until the next time,
Stay positive, stay healthy and stay happy
Your cosmic brother,
6 basic needs courtesy of Anthony Robbins Relationships Seminar