Thinking about your needs in a relationship, what would you rank as number one?
Putting the toilet seat down…communicating often…intimacy? Most likely, honesty and monogamy are pretty high on the list.
It’s probably hard for you to pick just one because there are several needs in relationships and partnerships that most people would consider important. Some of them are as individual as the person. But there are a few—four, in fact—that I would say are universal, and I talk about them often.
But there is a huge one—the biggest, perhaps—to any successful relationship.
What is it?
The Most Important Need in your Relationship
It’s pretty simple. The most important need in a relationship is to feel emotionally safe.
That’s right. If you don’t feel emotionally safe, how could you possibly open your heart to another person?
If you’re building an emotionally safe relationship foundation, bringing your true feelings to the partnership and feeling like you can express them freely is going to be vital to that base. Your feelings and emotions are the essence of who you are as a person, and you need to feel secure enough in the partnership to be able to express them.
The range of emotions we feel—positive, negative, and everything in between—needs to be expressed. If we don’t feel safe enough to let them flow freely and that the other person in the relationship will receive them, then we aren’t feeling emotionally safe. That’s when walls are built, partners are shut out, and the connection breaks down.
Check out this video about the number one partnership need:
Creating the Safe Space you Want
It’s important to take a look at your behavior in the relationship. It’s a given that you want to feel emotional safety from your partner. But you have to ask yourself, “Am I behaving in a way that makes my partner feel emotionally safe?”
Yes, this is going to require some self-reflection, but trust me, it’ll be worth it. If a partnership goes two ways, it’s only fair that behavior is reciprocated as well.
So, take a look at the way you treat your partner and think about whether you’d feel emotionally safe in their shoes. Are you allowing them to feel and express their feelings with you, or are you acting judgmental, critical, or closed off toward them? Do you have the attitude of: “Your emotions are welcome with me?”
If you don’t feel emotionally safe in your current relationship, start by changing what you can—you. Creating a place of emotional security for your partner will allow them to do the same for you. If your partner still isn’t creating that safe space for you, then it’s up to you to determine how much you tolerate.
If you don’t know how to feel emotions, then you’ll want to unlock your emotions and start feeling them. Don’t be like me, and spend decades emotionally constipated. Do the work to start feeling now.
Don’t Ask of your Partner What you Can’t Do for Yourself
Besides taking a look at whether your behavior is creating an emotionally safe space, it’s necessary to take a look at the way you deal with yourself. Do you have the capacity to be comfortable with your own emotional experience?
It’s important to be comfortable being yourself with yourself. Because if you are constantly resisting and fighting feeling your own emotions, there’s no way you’ll feel comfortable expressing them to your partner.
Once you can get to a place where you recognize and accept the way you’re feeling, you can share it comfortably with someone else. But that’s the kicker—you have to accept your feelings, without judgment, and be cool with whatever they are. Then, you’ll be less likely to tolerate someone who won’t.
So, can you do that? Can you own whatever you feel and be with it? If not, then it’s unfair to ask your partner to be with you if you can’t be with you.
Emotional Safety Creates Strength in Relationships
Once you’re able to be comfortable with your own emotions, you’ll be more prepared to determine your emotional security in any partnership and ensure you’re fostering that environment on your side. When you are both in a place where you feel emotionally safe—you can let down your guard and be yourselves—anything is possible.
To help you determine where you are in your relationship, take this free quiz.