Getting your needs met and meeting the needs of your partner
Getting your needs met and satisfying those of your partner are keys to a lasting relationship. Unfortunately, many of us to our beloved with many unmet needs from the past. Maybe we suffered with being unwanted, dumped, or rejected. Or being invisible and ignored. Maybe we had little or no affection. Or no encouragement, useful guidance, or advice. Too much or too little discipline or limit-setting.
These experiences leave us with inner wounds that need healing, as well as cravings for certain kinds of loving input.
The TTLC Needs
This section is excerpted from my newly revised and expanded dating advice book, Love in 90 Days. Being in touch with these longings allows you to clearly focus on getting your needs met. We can then ask for what we need from others and especially from our Beloved. I call these longings Tough or Tender Loving Care (TTLC) needs, and they can be divided into three categories: Nurturance, Guidance and Envisioning, and Limit Setting.
Every person deserves to experience nurturance, guidance, and limit setting for personal growth. They are the cornerstones to building a solid and loving human being. Yet sadly most of us have missed out on one or more of these basic inputs. And because we’ve missed out on one or more of these building blocks, it’s much more difficult to create a lasting and healthy intimate relationship.
Identifying your TTLC needs is a critical first step in getting your needs met. And the following exercise helps you do just that. As you choose items from the TTLC needs list, you are beginning a process of learning how to love yourself, which is necessary in order to have a healthy loving relationship. And you’ll be able to start getting your needs met!
The TTLC Journaling Process
Read through the list carefully and in your Love in 90 journal, jot down the top two items that jump out at you from each category. Choose the ones that you intuitively feel would be helpful to you right now. While it is easiest to identify needs for nurturance, look for items in all three categories, because usually, much as we might hate to admit it, we also need guidance and confrontation as well.
Chosen and wanted as the special one.
Made to feel safe.
Getting hugs and physical affection.
Told I’m attractive.
Treated as if I’m desirable.
Supported when I’m failing or feeling vulnerable.
Receiving acts of caretaking and service.
Treated with respect.
Being forgiven for mistakes.
Companionship—shared time together.
Getting time and attention.
Receiving what I really need, even if it is a lot at times.
Being listened to.
Treated as if my wants and needs are very important.
Getting Your Needs Met: Exercise 1
In your Journal, Write down: My top two Nurturance needs are:
Guidance and Envisioning
Getting a commitment for a shared future.
Being encouraged to live my dreams.
Getting helped to explore the world and my place in it.
Gaining recognition for my accomplishments.
Belief in my unique potential and talent.
Encouraged to be real.
Encouraged to play, to find my bliss.
Being taught, guided, or advised.
Getting symbolic and thoughtful gifts.
Belief in and validation of my ideal self.
Getting Your Needs Met: Exercise 2
Write down: My top two Guidance and Envisioning needs are:
Limit Setting for Personal Growth
A “swift kick in the butt” to help me get motivated.
Being confronted when I’m out of line.
Getting constructive limits on my behavior.
Receiving reasonable consequences for abusive or destructive behavior.
Helped to make reparations for destructive acts.
Getting Your Needs Met: Exercise 3
Write down: My top Two Limit Setting needs are:
You now should have a total of six unfulfilled needs that you want met, two from each category. I know you may want to list twenty items from Nurturance alone. And maybe even more. But trust me on this; you need more guidance and limit setting than you think. We all do. Just ask friends who really know you. Or, especially, your partner.
Sharing with Your Partner
The six unfulfilled needs you listed are the ones that I want you to communicate about with your Beloved. During this week, when the time is right, take the list out and have loving straight talk about them with your partner.
Please imagine that you are talking about an innocent and deserving being (that would be you at your core). Describe how you came to have these particular needs and what it would mean to have them fulfilled. Describe what it might feel like, look like, and sound like to have one of those needs fulfilled. Ask your partner to specifically take action in a way that would have the most meaning to you.
After your discussion, ask your partner about his or her TTLC needs. Ask him or her to do the same kind of sharing that you just did.
How I Got My Needs Met
Let me give you an example of getting your needs met type of communicating. As the fifth of five daughters born into a Sicilian family who only valued boys, I rarely had my talents prized or showcased by the family (I remember only one time when I was about five years old and had a recital in dance school). In fact the clearest memory I have is being yelled at by my father and told that I was useless and “couldn’t even hammer in a nail.” This was particularly crushing since he worked in construction building houses.
When I was first married to my husband, Sam, I was shy about sharing with him the kind of results I was getting with my therapy patients. At that time I was insecure about my abilities as a therapist, even though my clients were doing great. Such is the power of an inner-child wound. In thinking about what I needed and didn’t get as a child, three TTLC needs popped out for me:
My Big Three TTLC Needs
Needing to be told I’m unique and lovable. (Nurturance)
Belief in my unique potential and talent. (Guidance and Envisioning)
Being told I have to “suck it up” when I have something scary to do. (Limit Setting)
At that time Sam was competitive with me, or so it seemed. Nevertheless, one day I screwed up all my courage. I told him about my need for validation and to be pushed to showcase my talents. And that I wanted him to speak up about the quality of my work to other therapists. I remember it clearly. I was actually embarrassed and ashamed to ask for what I needed. As I teared up, I told him that I needed to discuss my work and have him find something “brilliant” in it. That I needed him to say that to me. Even if I stupidly argued with him whenever he did say it.
To my shock, Sam followed through to help me get my needs met
And it truly touched my heart. As the years went on, he actually began making training videos (with the permission of my clients) of my therapy sessions, and he used them to teach other therapists all over the world. For years, when we co-led training workshops Sam would showcase these videos. “This is how you really help people transform,” he would say. “Watch closely and see what Diana does next!” I felt so validated and loved, and I felt loving toward him. He became my champion. But it never would have happened if I had not summoned the courage for straight talk about what I really needed from him.
Sam and I also did the reverse process where we looked at his TTLC needs and he communicated what he needed. I was so happy to be able to give back to him, as you can imagine.
When there is this type of “getting your needs met” talk, relationships rapidly improve. Because more positives are manifesting themselves in your daily routine.
So go for it. Make your list and share your needs with your partner. To learn how happy couples support each other go the happy couple page.