All of my girlfriends know that I’m a sucker for words of affirmation. Nothing makes me feel more appreciated than when my guy says just the right thing. His words will stay with me for days—if not weeks.
But just because all my girlfriends know this about me doesn’t mean my guy automatically will, too.
Sometimes women expect guys to “just know” or pick up on their emotional needs the way their girlfriends do. We fear that letting the man we are with know what we need is, well, needy and that it will ruin the romance to boot. But this couldn’t be further from the truth.
Guys really appreciate it when women tell them about their emotional needs. As Justin shared with Verily, interpreting emotional cues from women can be a constant source of struggle. Not only that, Dr. John Gray, author of Men Are From Mars, Women are From Venus, argues that, “Men are motivated when they feel needed while women are motivated when they feel cherished.”
Neediness is only ever a thing when you suffer silently or stay with a guy who refuses to give you the attention you need. If you haven’t spoken up, it’s time to clue your guy in while feeling confident that the romance will remain firmly intact.
Here are four important things to keep in mind.
01. Asking for what you need builds intimacy.
Approaching your guy about your needs isn’t easy, but it’s imperative that you don’t withhold your feelings from him—for your sake and the sake of the relationship. When you let go of any insecurities about sharing your feelings and needs with him, you’re on your way to building a deeper connection.
As Dr. Brené Brown reminds us in her book, The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You're Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are, “Staying vulnerable is a risk we have to take if we want to experience connection.” Being vulnerable by sharing your emotional needs moves the relationship forward and will ultimately make you both feel more understood.
02. Keeping it positive will ensure success.
Remember, if this is the first time you are telling your man what you need, it’s not his fault. Staying positive yourself is a good way of making sure he doesn’t feel like he is in the dog house unnecessarily.
To start the conversation, talk about the positive feelings and attitudes you have about him and the relationship. You can do this by first acknowledging the things your partner does for you, even if they don’t speak to your primary love language. For example, maybe he is generous with gift or does little acts of service, call these out even if you wish he was whispering sweet nothings. This place of positivity will help you to proceed with the conversation with a loving and generous outlook on your partner.
03. Talking about your desires for the relationship will take the focus off of you.
Another key element to expressing your needs well in a relationship is to highlight the benefits your particular need brings to the relationship. The fear women have about speaking up about their needs is because, to us, it often sounds all about me, me, me. But the truth is, when you feel loved and emotionally fulfilled, it helps build intimacy, connection, and trust. That's something your S.O. should want for the relationship too! So express your needs, but also talk about what you both stand to gain. Things such as greater trust, deeper connection, and more fun are always worthy goals.
04. Remember to complain, not blame.
At first, you might think that complaining is the epitome of needy behavior, but actually a complaint is just an expression of discontent, which is what this conversation is all about. The key though, is to make sure complaint doesn’t turn into a critical blaming conversation, one of the behaviors of unhealthy relationships identified by marriage expert Dr. John Gottman. Criticism attacks the character of a person. Things like “ you always” or “you never” are examples of critical language and can make your partner feel like his character is under attack. Instead, turn criticism into complaints by expressing your needs using I statements. For example, talk about what your needs are specifically, and how it makes you feel when they are and are not fulfilled.
Expressing your emotional needs is a helpful way to move the relationship forward. So kick your fear of neediness to the curb and get closer than ever!
Photo Credit: Elissa Voss Photography