Getting your needs met and meeting the needs of your partner is the ultimate key to creating lasting love. Here’s how to make sure you both feel loved.
We all have deeper needs, often left over from what happened or did not happen to us in childhood.
Or what did or did not happen to us in previous relationships.
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.
Being in touch with these longings allows us to clearly focus on getting our 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!
Read through the list carefully and 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.
● Being accepted.
● Being chosen and wanted as the special one.
● Being made to feel safe.
● Being loved unconditionally.
● Getting hugs and physical affection.
● Being understood.
● Being prized.
● Being told I’m attractive.
● Being treated as if I’m desirable.
● Being told I’m lovable.
● Being told I’m unique and special.
● Being supported when I’m failing or feeling vulnerable.
● Receiving acts of caretaking and service.
● Being treated with respect.
● Being forgiven.
● Being treated fairly.
● Being given to.
● Companionship—shared time together.
● Being protected from frenemies or bullies.
● Getting time and attention.
● Getting what I really need, even if it is a lot.
● Being listened to.
● Being treated as if my wants and needs are very important.
Write down: My top two Nurturance needs are…
Guidance and Envisioning
● Getting a commitment for a shared future.
● Being encouraged to live my dreams.
● Being helped to explore the world and my place in it.
● Getting recognition for my accomplishments.
● Belief in my unique potential and talent.
● Being praised and rewarded for accomplishments.
● Being encouraged to be real.
● Being 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.
Write down: My top two Guidance and Envisioning needs are…
Limit Setting for Personal Growth
● Getting constructive and helpful critiques.
● Being told to “suck it up” when I have to do something difficult or scary.
● 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.
● Being helped to make reparations for destructive acts.
Write down: My top Two Limit Setting needs are…
You now should have a total of six unfulfilled needs, 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.
Let me give you an example of this kind of Soulmate 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:
● Being told I’m unique and loveable. (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 and told him about my need for validation and to be pushed to showcase my talents and 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. I teared up as 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, 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, truthful 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 to me. I was so happy to be able to give back to him, as you can imagine.
When there is this kind of Soulmate communication, things can get into a very favorable “in love” state quickly. Because more positives are manifesting themselves in your daily routine.
So go for it. Make your list and share your needs with your partner. If you’d like extra support, I’m happy to offer you a complimentary coaching session. Go here to connect with me.
You deserve so much!
About Dr. Diana Kirschner
Diana Kirschner, Ph.D. is a relationship advice expert, frequent guest psychologist on The Today Show and the creator of a globally available dating coach and Love Mentor® program. Dr. Diana is also the best-selling author of the acclaimed relationship advice book, “Sealing the Deal: The Love Mentor’s Guide to Lasting Love”, and of the best-selling relationship and dating book, “Love in 90 Days”. Love in 90 Days was the basis of her PBS Special on love. Connect with Dr. Diana through her Dating Tips & Relationship Advice Newsletter.“Diana Kirschner’s work is life-changing, love-affirming and wonderfully effective.”
~Dr. Christiane Northrup, Internationally bestselling author of Women’s Bodies, Women’s Wisdom.